Almanac 2021

Dead World Round-Up
By Jesse Jarnow with Gary Lambert And David Stanford

Grateful Dead

The Grateful Dead circa 1980. Photo: Larry Hulst/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

We are well into the age of golden anniversaries here in Grateful Dead-land, and this issue of the Grateful Dead Almanac marks its own kind of 50th birthday. Last year, we celebrated the releases of Workingman’s Dead and American Beauty. Next year marks Europe ’72, of course. But not only does 2021 mark the birth of the album some of us call Skull and Roses, it also marks the beginning of the Dead Heads.

Dead Freaks Unite! read a note in the gatefold to Skull and Roses. Who are you? Where are you? How are you?

Strangers had already been stopping strangers at Dead shows for a half-decade by then, making friends with one another through the Dead, and spreading the word. But the official Dead Heads newsletter, launched in early spring 1972, began to pull the Dead Heads together -- in part by giving them a proper name. Like everything else in the Dead cosmos, it evolved somewhat accidentally.

According to Jerry Garcia’s note in the debut issue, the original plan for the Dead Heads project was to collate “rough lists of members of the Grateful Dead weirdness scene... and have them get together in their own town and put on some trips... to provide a communication system of some sort.” But even if these grand plans didn’t manifest, just offering a direct line of communication and a non-condescending encouragement for direct correspondence was a fairly revolutionary step for a rock band.

This edition of the Grateful Dead Almanac joins the 50th anniversary fun. Communication systems are both simpler and more complicated these days. You can’t let go and you can’t hold on, as Robert Hunter wrote. Despite the many wondrous (and sometimes dystopian) news platforms that have emerged since then, there are still Dead Heads and--50 years later--still plenty of things to report to them.

Most importantly, the members of the Dead have returned to the stage. As we go to press, both Dead & Co. and Phil Lesh are preparing to sow rainbow havoc among the nation’s stadiums, amphitheaters, arenas, theaters, and bars. You might even be preparing to see them at this very second. See below for detailed updates from the various coves, sub-universes, and hideaways of the Grateful Dead universe.

The Dead had a pretty large garage sale this fall, with some extremely fascinating items uncovered in the band’s warehouse by Big Steve Parish, now en route to new hands by way of Sotheby’s. Included in the auction were tons of the road cases, gear, amps, cabinets, guitars, keyboards, and other items not still in use by any of the guys in the band. If you want to see Pigpen’s B3, find your way to a Dead & Co. show.

Some of that gear can be heard in action on the range of archival releases served up over the past year by archivist David Lemieux, headlined by an expanded 50th anniversary edition of Skull and Roses (featuring a good chunk of the Dead’s last show at the Fillmore West) and the even newer Listen To The River: St. Louis ’71 ’72 ’73 box set.

As co-host of the Good Ol’ Grateful Deadcast along with Rich Mahan, we’ve had the delightful privilege of digging into the stories behind the music. To follow-up our dives into Workingman’s Dead and American Beauty, Rich and I have made multi-part audio documentaries about the 1971 tours that produced Skull and Roses and the band’s incredibly deep history with St. Louis, uncovering stories from the people who were there, untold folklore, rare archival interviews, and never-heard sessions.

We talked to Judy Collins about the strange and psychedelic origins of “Me and My Uncle,” got on the bus with tour manager Sam Cutler, discussed the ESP experiments at the Capitol Theater with Dr. Stanley Krippner, hung out with Jerry Garcia and Mountain Girl for a stoned Sunday rap circa 1971, heard how Dead lighting director Candace Brightman met the band, went backstage at the Fillmore East with stage crew member Allan Arkush, explored the artisanal world of Alembic with Rick Turner and Rosie McGee, and learned tie-dye history from pioneer Courtenay Pollack. And we explored topics that included a Robert Hunter 80th birthday celebration, Jerry Garcia’s 1971 solo debut, the very first live Grateful Dead tape, and a two-part special about the history and craft of Playing Dead music featuring Oteil Burbridge, Trey Anastasio, members of the first ever Dead cover band, and more. And did you ever hear about the time the Dead crashed a bar mitzvah in St. Louis? Check out the Good Ol’ Grateful Deadcast from your nearest local podcast distributor.

DEAD & COMPANY

Grateful Dead

Dead and Company, Summer Tour Opener, Raleigh, NC, August 16, 2021. Photo: Jay Blakesberg

The phrase “a long, strange trip” - devised by the late Robert Hunter to describe the life of a touring band in the Grateful Dead’s autobiographical anthem “Truckin'” - has been applied countless times in countless contexts since the song made its debut more than five decades ago. But it has seldom seemed more apt than it has in the context of the trip we’ve been through together over these past two years.

Like virtually everyone on the planet, Dead & Company, along with Dead Heads everywhere, entered the year 2021 in a state of deep uncertainty about the future that was unlike anything we'd experienced before. Since early 2020, the world had been at the mercy of a deadly pandemic that devastated innumerable lives and livelihoods, confined people to their homes and transformed such commonplace human activities as travel and public assemblage into potentially lethal risks not worth taking. One field of endeavor that felt the impact of the pandemic and its attendant quarantines and lockdowns especially keenly was the live music industry. Many other businesses were able to adapt to some extent. For example, stores, restaurants, and other service-based entities could survive through home delivery; companies that usually operated out of centralized offices adopted work-from-home policies, made possible through internet access. But of course, there can be no such workaround when it comes to concert presentation, which by its very nature requires that a safe, healthy space be provided in which people can gather – often in very close proximity to one another – to celebrate a shared love for music. It was clear that such gatherings could not happen for as long as any sizable public event held the threat of becoming a Coronavirus superspreader. And so, all scheduled tours and festivals were cancelled or postponed until some indeterminate future date; bands were pulled off the road; venues shuttered (with some in peril of permanent closure); and the thousands upon thousands of dedicated support workers who help make live music happen – from stagehands and truck drivers to ushers and box office personnel – found themselves out of work until further notice, with no one quite clear on when such notice would come. All we could do was wait while the scientific and medical community worked tirelessly to find solutions.

As 2021 began, there were finally signs of progress and reasons for cautious hope, as vaccines to protect against Covid-19 began to become widely available, first to the most vulnerable citizens and more gradually to a broader portion of the public. In areas where the percentage of people getting vaccinated was the highest and there was a greater degree of compliance with common-sense masking and social-distancing practices, the rate of serious or fatal infections decreased most dramatically. In those places that tried to get back to business-as-usual too quickly and carelessly, and where there was the most resistance to and/or outright defiance of vaccine, masking and distancing mandates and guidelines, spikes in new and more severe infections were far more common. Against this background, the people working together to get live music up and running again – artists and their managements, concert promoters, venue operators and more – were keeping an eye on all the data and guidelines coming from the Centers for Disease Control and other such agencies and trying to arrive some sense of when and how it might be feasible to start scheduling shows, and how best to implement the precautions necessary to safeguard the well-being of audiences, artists and music workers alike. As the middle of the year drew nearer, there was speculation that full-on touring might not resume until early 2022. But in mid-May, several major bands announced almost simultaneously that they indeed had plans to tour this summer or fall – and one of them was Dead & Company, who would embark on what might be looked at either as one long tour or two in rapid succession – an 18-show leg running from mid-August to mid-September, a break of about three weeks, then 13 more shows commencing in early October and culminating in a Halloween celebration at the Hollywood Bowl.

Even with that eagerly awaited and joyously received news came some cause for apprehension – the rise of variants to the original strain of Covid-19 not only increased the chances of severe infection in the unvaccinated, but also raised the specter of so-called breakthrough infections that could affect even those who had already gotten their shots (although such infections were almost invariably far less serious and comparatively infrequent – the greater danger of transmitting or contracting the most dangerous infections still predominated among the unvaccinated by an overwhelming margin) .

After assessing all the risks and considering the best available ways to minimize them, Dead & Company and their management announced a comprehensive policy to protect the safety and health of those attending the shows to the greatest extent possible. Proof of either full vaccination or of a negative Covid test within 48 hours of the event would be required for admission to venues (with onsite testing areas made available, and the additional safeguard that proof of vaccination, and not just a negative test, was necessary to enter the general admission pit, where fans were most likely to be in the closest proximity to one another).

Audience members wouldn’t be the only ones observing strict rules. The Dead & Co. touring party would be operating within the most infection-proof bubble that could be devised, with only the most essential working personnel allowed backstage at any time - no mingling with friends and family before the show or during set break, no late-night hangs at the hotel afterwards. Everything was focused on making the shows happen under the safest conditions possible, for band and fans alike. This tour could not have been more in keeping with a core philosophy long expressed by Grateful Dead roadies: “The situation is the boss.”

And so, with said situation firmly established and all precautions in place, things were able to commence as scheduled on August 16th in Raleigh, NC (albeit briefly delayed by the first of several episodes of threatening weather - one of those things that makes the summer concert season extra fun! - that would crop up during the tour).

Whatever apprehensions and tensions may have been lingering on opening night quickly moved into the background the instant the band took the stage and the audience greeted them with that massive outpouring of love we’ve all been missing so much since early 2020. And the joy increased by another magnitude with the first notes of the perfectly chosen tour opener - Jerry Garcia and Robert Hunter’s revered ode to optimism in the face of hard times, “Touch Of Grey.” Also quickly dispelled were any worries that the band might be a bit rusty after the longest layoff in its six-year history. The playing was inspired, purposeful, bursting with imagination and fresh ideas, and would only get better, it seemed, with each succeeding tour date. Every show seemed to have new surprises in store. Sometimes they came in the ways the sets were structured, with some old-school Grateful Dead customs gleefully subverted. A familiar song that was almost invariably heard in the first set back in the day might not turn up until deep in the most improv-intensive regions of the second half - perhaps even in the no-turning-back territory of the post-Drums-and-Space portion of the proceedings - and through that placement, those songs would open up in ways they never had during five decades in the repertoire. And the songs more expected in the second set would also be transformed, with the band creating within the jams what our friend Bruce Hornsby likes to call “new compositional moments,” with each player helping to guide the conversation in unpredictable new directions. And even when the band delivering some of the cornerstone selections in the songbook in fairly straightforward fashion, those songs seemed to take on added emotional resonance in light of the life challenges we’ve all been through in recent history. In particular, those songs dealing with the passage of time, impermanence and loss - originals like “Stella Blue,” “Days Between,” “Black Muddy River,” or covers like “Morning Dew” or Reverend Gary Davis’s “Death Don’t Have No Mercy” - seemed to go deeper than ever.

Grateful Dead

Dead and Company during “He’s Gone," Wrigley Field, September 18, 2021. Photo: Jay Blakesberg

Indeed, the band was delivering the music with such consistent excellence that we’re reluctant to try to identify a single highlight to extoll over all the others.

Uh… but that said, we’re gonna go ahead and identify a single highlight to extoll over all the others!

There was widespread agreement that the most inspired and best-received bit of setlist programming took place during the fifth show of the tour, at Bethel Woods Center for the Arts, located in the Catskill Mountains of upstate New York – more specifically on land formerly owned by a kindly dairy farmer named Max Yasgur, who in 1969 thought it would be nice to let a few kids attend a little music festival on his spread. You might have read a few things about that shindig (inexplicably named after a town some 70 miles away). Quite a few fondly remembered performances took place on that weekend 52 summers ago, but the Grateful Dead alumni who were there would be quick to tell you that theirs was one best forgotten. The Dead, playing before the largest audience they (or anyone else) had ever faced to that point, suffered through a set delayed by bad weather, interrupted a few songs in by a lengthy break to deal with technical difficulties (including, to add injury to insult, potent electric shocks experienced by band members) and not made any more pleasant by erroneous warnings that the stage was about to collapse To be fair: when long-unheard and unissued recordings from Woodstock finally surfaced many years after the fact, they revealed that the Dead hadn’t really played all that badly. The set was just a struggle from start to finish, mostly due to circumstances beyond their (or anyone else’s) control, preventing the band from building any momentum or delivering the freewheeling improvisational brilliance characteristic of so much of their work in that period. They left the stage that night perhaps somewhat thankful to have not been electrocuted, but with a sense of a big opportunity blown.

Clearly, some sort of redemption was in order. And so, when Dead & Company took the stage for the second set at Bethel Woods, Bobby Weir stepped up to the mic with a wry smile and said:

“Now, fifty-some years ago, right here, we tried this next little sequence, and it didn’t work so well for us. So, we’re gonna try it again.”

Seconds later, the band launched into the unmistakable introduction to “St Stephen, - causing the crowd to go every bit as nuts as you’d expect, and then some – and from there went on to play the songs – in markedly improved fashion - that had comprised that ill-fated set back in ’69, in the same order (for the record: “St. Stephen>Mama Tried>Dark Star>High Time>Turn On Your Lovelight”) before delivering the rest of a spectacular set that ran nearly an additional hour beyond the Woodstock sequence. Oh, and to everyone’s great relief, the microphone was not commandeered, as it had been the first time around, by a never-to-be-identified loon who launched into an indecipherable rant about the Great Lakes while the band tried to play “Lovelight.” So… redemption accomplished? Oh, yes indeed (it was even suggested that “exorcism” wasn’t too strong a term).

•••

Those who couldn’t make it to the shows - or to as many shows as they would have liked - didn’t have to miss out entirely, either. As had been the case since 2016, the next best thing to seeing Dead & Company in person in 2021 was to partake of the offerings of nugs.net, which once again was beaming visually and aurally stunning livestreams of every tour date directly to viewers who could enjoy them on everything from smartphones to jumbo-screen HD and 4K TV sets. This year a new wrinkle was added to enhance the entertainment factor. During the set break of each livestream - where in previous years, viewers saw an onscreen graphic inviting them to stay tuned - there now appeared a nightly segment called “Dead Air With Lambert & Gans” (they being Gary Lambert & David Gans, tie-dyed-in-the-wool Dead Heads and co-hosts of the long-running “Tales From The Golden Road” on SiriusXM Radio’s Grateful Dead Channel). Each night the pair welcomed a different guest with diverse connections to the worlds of the Dead. Family members and friends, journalists and scholars, fellow musicians, representatives of some of the worthy non-profit organizations supported by the band and more. As we approached our Almanac publication date, many more guests were waiting in the wings for the second leg of the tour.

Grateful Dead

Dead & Company, Red Rocks, 10/19/21. Photo: Bob Minkin

And speaking of waiting in the wings… as of this writing the band was taking a few well deserved weeks off before undertaking the latter part of the trek, and if the level of quality and audience response in the first half holds true, there will be a lot more good times and great music to be had. Thanks are due to everyone who made this tour possible under extraordinary and challenging conditions. First and foremost, of course, Bob, Billy, Mickey, John, Oteil and Jeff; the Dead & Company management team, crew and support staff; the local promoters and venue operators who took such a huge hit in this crisis but somehow endured; and of course, the Dead Heads who have been so patient in waiting this thing out, so generous in their support and unabashed enthusiasm. Here’s to more joyous times in 2022!

Jerry Garcia

The world around Jerry Garcia continues to push towards the future or, depending how you look at it, revealing how Garcia was already there all along. This year saw the release of An Odd Little Place: The Digital Works of Jerry Garcia (1992-1995), a collection of NFTs centered around Garcia’s exploratory late period digital art. Seen in 1991 on the cover of Infrared Roses and in several printed collections, it was a strangely perfect case use for limited edition digital collectibles. “These early digital art making tools enabled a visionary like my father to share the scenes from his mind,” says Trixie Garcia. “He was telling stories in a new medium and it’s beautiful.”

With the art displayed at the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland, the NFT sales included three never-seen works from August 1995 found in a folder titled “Last 48 Hours,” benefitting the Wilderness Society, Rex Foundation, and First In Last Out Festival, along with their respective beneficiaries, For Humanity and Sweet Relief.

Another modern iteration of Jerry Garcia’s legacy was the second annual Daze Between, held between the anniversaries of his birth and death, from August 1st through August 9th, raising some $75,000 for the Rex Foundation. Filled with music and storytelling, online and off, events included performances by Bob Weir & Wolf Bros., Melvin Seals, Warren Haynes, Grace Potter, Peter Rowan, Dark Star Orchestra, Bill Nershi, Lettuce, Steve Kimock, Marc Brownstein, Matt Butler, Mikaela Davis, and more, alongside Jerry Garcia nights hosted by the Cincinnati Reds, San Francisco Giants, and Boston Red Sox.

JERRY GARCIA

Jerry Garcia, Speedway Meadow, Golden Gate Park, April 1967. Photo: © Cadillac Ron /Retro Photo Archive

There were, are, and will be all manners of delightful solo Garcia releases, too. Since we’ve last communicated, those have included GarciaLive Volume 15: May 21st, 1971 Keystone Corner, a never-circulated performance by the rare trio of Garcia, drummer Bill Vitt, and organist Merl Saunders playing organ and bass pedals, filling in for an absent John Kahn. The recording features the earliest live collaboration by Jerry Garcia and saxophonist Martin Fierro, as well the only known version of Garcia singing David Crosby’s “The Wall Song.” GarciaLive Volume 16: November 15th, 1991 Madison Square Garden caught the band in a very different period of their career, making their debut at the Dead’s New York home, and discovering that their mild-mannered California bar band works in arenas, too.

From right in the middle, out November 12th, comes GarciaLive Volume 17: NorCal ’76, featuring the classic Garcia Band lineup with Keith and Donna Godchaux and drummer Ron Tutt. Can’t wait. Coming soon, too, features the first ever vinyl edition of the Jerry Garcia Band’s self-titled double live album recorded in 1991, with new liner notes by Bill Walton and Steven Hyden, presented in a gold foil-stamped clamshell box.

Some never-heard recordings of Jerry Garcia have turned up in other guises over this past year, too. From the glory days of the Planet Earth Rock and Roll Orchestra comes a 50th anniversary reissue of David Crosby’s immortal If I Could Remember My Name featuring unreleased demos and alternate session takes featuring Garcia, plus liner notes by Steve Silberman. Check out Steve and Croz’s podcast, Freak Flag Flying for plenty of deep storytelling about this period (as well as the Deadcast’s “Attics Of My Life” episode).

David Grisman has been quietly releasing a number of alternate takes from his many sessions with Jerry Garcia, most lately an expanded edition of Been All Around This World, but has also put out a complete alternate version of their 1991 debut. and deluxe versions of Not For Kids Only, Shady Grove, and The Pizza Tapes, all with previously unreleased music. Garcia’s 1994 sessions with guitarist Sanjay Mishra for Mishra’s Blue Incantation have been released by Jerry Garcia Music Arts in stripped back form on Front Street Outtakes.

Needless to say, we’re confident in suggesting that any/all of the above pairs just-exactly-perfectly with Garcia Hand Picked cannabis, whose Super Lemon Haze received first place in the High Times NorCal Cannabis Cup for Sativa Flower category, and second place in the Emerald Cup for Licensed Cultivator Flower, Indoor. Roll up!

BOB WEIR

At this point, there’s no way to keep Bobby Weir down, and we really don’t recommend trying. His workout routine continues to be inspiring, analyzed recently by Men’s Health, and something Dead Heads should celebrate. “At my age, if you let it go, it ain’t coming back,” Weir told Men’s Health. “I have a lot of stuff I want to get to. And I gotta fuckin’ live to do it.” For more breaking news and exercise tips from Weir-world, be sure to keep up with Bobby’s TikTok.

Most immediately on the schedule, besides Dead & Co. dates, are Weir’s upcoming performances with the National Symphony Orchestra at the Kennedy Center over four nights in February, featuring Bobby and his Wolf Bros. colleagues Don Was, Jay Lane, Jeff Chimenti, along with the expanded Wolf Pack, featuring orchestrations by Giancarlo Acquilanti. The performance continues work begun with Acquilanti that began with 2011’s First Fusion, A New Renaissance program performed with the Marin Symphony.

BOB WEIR

Bob Weir and Wolf Brothers, Greek Theatre, Berkeley, CA, July 24, 2021. Photo: Jay Blakesberg

One of the most delightful new emergences in the Dead universe is the expanded version of the Wolf Bros., debuting over four streamed performances from TRI Studios with pedal steel guitarist Greg Leisz and an expanded horn section, bringing new dimensions to the Dead songbook, and taking to the stage in California and Colorado and hopefully beyond. Bobby and the Wolf Bros. also appeared along with Bettye LaVette on saxophonist Dave McMurray’s jazz album of Dead tunes on Blue Note, Grateful Deadication.

PHIL LESH

After an 80th birthday year spent off the stage, Phil Lesh once again fired up the spaceship known as Terrapin Crossroads for regular outdoor performances, sometimes featuring old pals like Bobby Weir and Jackie Greene alongside the Terrapin Family regulars. Phil also hit the road unannounced, joining Grahame Lesh’s Midnight North for stealth sit-ins during a half-dozen shows on their late spring tour. Last week, Phil returned to the beloved Capitol Theater in Port Chester with the band known as the Quintet, beginning a series of shows with different collaborators, new and old.

PHIL LESH

Phil Lesh with grandson Levon, Terrapin Crossroads. Photo: Bob Minkin

BILL KREUTZMANN

BILL KREUTZMANN

Billy and The Kids, Anini Beach, Kauai with Billy Strings, May 3, 2021. Photo: Jay Blakesberg

A cosmic 75th to Bill the Drummer! Before Bill returned to service with Dead & Co. for their summer tour, he celebrated his birthday in May at home in Hawaii with three streamed performances featuring a new lineup of Billy and the Kids. With guitarist Billy Strings and saxophonist James Casey, plus special guest Kid Carlos Santana, along with an acoustic hang featuring Bill Nershi, it was about as jam-filled as a birthday shindig could be. In July, Billy and the Kids manifested at Red Rocks to continue with a few more nights of high altitude fun, available for blasting from Nugs.net.

MICKEY HART

Mickey Hart has continued his mission of vibrating air molecules in new ways with projects that range from inner healing to global consciousness. At the forefront is the return of Mickey’s legendary Planet Drum. Collaborating with the social justice organization Playing For Change, the supergroup Planet Drum debuted the video for “King Clavé”--their first new music in 14 years--during a General Assembly session of the United Nations in September, with more to come in 2022.

For fans of the deepest, most soul-filling tones of Drums/Space, this year also saw the debut of Sound Consciousness: Drones For Sonic Bathing, a 10-part sonic meditation series by Mickey and long-time musical partner Zakir Hussain, presented through Commune. With performances employing Mickey’s vast archive of percussion and drone instruments, it’s an adventure led by the ears and heart.

MICKEY HART

Mickey Hart, Red Rocks, October 20, 2021. Photo: Jay Blakesberg

Over the summer, as well, Mickey and the Rhythm Devils debuted a new Drums/Space segment built around sounds and visuals built around the Voices From the Rainforest project. Continuing from the project that Mickey produced in 1991, renowned ethnomusicologist Dr. Steven Feld and filmmaker Jeremiah Ra Richards returned to Papua New Guinea to make new recordings and videos, now incorporated into a Dead and Co. show near you.

ROBERT HUNTER

ROBERT HUNTER

Art by Maureen Hunter

Robert Hunter left us on September 23, 2019. He would have turned 80 on June 23rd this past summer, and his songs still fill the air, including a new one released on that date. “Memory” was co-written by Hunter (lyrics) and Jim Lauderdale (music), and appears on Lauderdale’s new album Hope.

ROBERT HUNTER

The album’s cover and other art were created by Maureen Hunter: “I’m using Robert’s room as my studio now. By doing that I feel close to him in some way. I wanted to do some kind of spirit painting, and did three. The stag was the first one, and then I did an owl, and a wolf. When Jim asked me if I had any artwork he could use for the album I thought of the stag, but figured, ‘Well, he wouldn’t want this, it’s not commercial.” But I sent it to him and he loved it and wanted to use it. And then he said, ‘What else have you got?’ So I sent him the owl and he used that too.”

Here’s the official version of “Memory”:

Long live
your memory and all you meant to me
Long live
the mornings after waking from sweet dreams
Long live
the long way home that we walked before
Long live
the gravel path that led me to our door

I’m glad to live another day
Your memory helps to pave the way
Softens the pain of losing you
As much as anything could do

But this one thing I know
You’re with me wherever I go
Deep down inside my heart and soul

Long live
The sunset glimmer on the rusty path
Long live
The days when I was yours and you were mine
Long Live
The place inside my heart where it’s still true
Long live
Your memories of me and mine of you

I’m glad to live another day
Your memory helps to pave the way
Softens the pain of losing you
As much as anything could do

And this one thing I know
You’re with me wherever I go
Deep down inside my heart and soul

Long live
Your memory and all you meant to me

***

Lauderdale:
“The reason I decided to call it Hope: There's a song on there called ‘Here's to Hoping’. Perhaps even if people don't listen to the record—even if they just see this beautiful painting that Robert Hunter's wife, Maureen, did as the cover, and see the word ‘Hope’—that it will trigger something and release some hope. We all need that, no matter who we are and what's going on.

“This is as bleak as things have been for many of us in life. Some of us have seen worse, and much harder and more terrible times, but for a lot of us, this period has been pretty bad.”

***

The long collaboration between Hunter and Lauderdale has been an extremely productive one. By Lauderdale’s estimation they wrote around 100 songs together, of which 88 have been recorded.

The first album of Lauderdale-Hunter songs was Headed for the Hills, which came out in 2004. Patchwork River appeared in 2010. The 2011 bluegrass album Reason and Rhyme was nominated for a Grammy and was followed in 2012 by a second bluegrass collaboration, Carolina Moonrise, with 12 original compositions. Black Roses (hear the title track here) and Blue Moon Junction were both released in 2013.

Robert hunter

The following is from a piece Lauderdale published in Relix in 2019 after Hunter’s passing:

“[In 1996] it was a fantasy to get to write with him. I was about to make a record with Ralph Stanley and the Clinch Mountain Boys. I knew Robert and Jerry loved the Stanley Brothers. This pipe dream was a long shot, but worth a try. To my astonishment, he sent a lyric—a love song to his wife Maureen called “Joy Joy Joy”. He also suggested putting a melody to “I Will Wait for You,” from his collection Box of Rain. Luckily, Robert and Ralph liked them. From there, we wrote a lot of songs—in different styles— and it all seems unreal that it ever happened.

“After we wrote the first two songs, Robert made a sort of pilgrimage to Nashville for several weeks. I’d go over to where he was staying and we’d chat for awhile, a melody would come to me and I’d put it down on a cassette, and leave it with him or he’d give me a lyric to take away. When I’d go back over the next day, he’d always have something terrific. We put together quite a batch, and I made a record out of the ones he picked called Headed for the Hills. Maureen flew over to join him and take him home and, boy, were they glad to see each other! It was incredibly sweet to see them together. When it was time, I made a pilgrimage to see him on his home turf. He would come over to where I was and we picked up where we left off. And we ended up writing an electric record called Patchwork River. Then, a few years later, came a couple of bluegrass records, a blues-rock record and an acoustic record. His creativity was mind-blowing. Robert and Jerry had set the bar as high as you can go. And, us writers and pickers have a great example and inspiration to aspire to and reach for. We may never make it, but we can still strive along the way.”

Read the complete essay here.

In a recent podcast, Lauderdale said of Hunter: "’Memory’ was the last thing he heard that we wrote, and so I'm really glad he got to hear it. I really miss him very much and feel his presence every day and think about him every day. He's a big part of my musical life, and he was a wonderful guy. I think he was the most interesting and intelligent guy I ever met.”

FRIENDS & RELATIONS

DONNA JEAN GODCHAUX MACKAY

Grateful Dead

Donna Jean Godchaux, Winterland, SF, 12/31/77. Photo: Bob Minkin

In January, Donna Jean Godchaux MacKay returned with a new single, “Shelter (Muscle Shoals Remix).” Recorded by Donna Jean and the Tricksters, her collaboration with guitarist Jeff Mattson of the Dark Star Orchestra, the song has been rearranged with a new groove and new background vocals, pointing back to Donna’s Muscle Shoals roots and keeping its prescient message.


OWSLEY STANLEY FOUNDATION

The Owsley Stanley Foundation has continued its mission of preserving and releasing Bear’s Sonic Journals, the incredibly rich archive of audio recordings made by late Dead sound engineer and in-house alchemist Owsley Stanley. This year, they dug into their vaults for three more releases whose only commonalities are their vivid sonics and improbable diversity. That Which Colors the Mind captures the master sarod player Ali Akbar Khan at the Family Dog on the Great Highway, May 29th, 1970, while two other releases document Bear’s time as a house engineer at the band-operated Carousel Ballroom. Tim Buckley’s Merry-Go-Round at the Carousel, recorded over two nights in June 1968, showcases the jazz-loving singer-songwriter’s own kind of improvisation, with his songs expanding and transitioning into one another, a jam language all his own. Meanwhile, Johnny Cash at the Carousel Ballroom catches the Man in Black amid the colorful trappings of ‘60s San Francisco, taped a few months after Cash’s pivotal Live at Folsom Prison recording and just a few weeks before its release.
Owsley Stanley Foundation

Owsley Stanley III, 1967. Photo: © Cadillac Ron /Retro Photo Archive

DAVID NELSON

DAVID NELSON

David Nelson and Phil Lesh, Terrapin Crossroads. Photo: Bob Minkin

David Nelson (of the New Riders of the Purple Sage, the Jerry Garcia Acoustic Band, and other fine acts) has returned to performing, as well, gigging with the David Nelson Band at Terrapin Crossroads and elsewhere. Ask a taper, if you’re curious, and keep up via their Facebook page. Just after we assembled last year’s Almanac, the David Nelson Band released a new single, “Klondike Blues,” with lyrics by Nelson’s former Wildwood Boys bandmate, the late Robert Hunter.

BOB MATTHEWS

As we were putting together the notes for Grateful Dead Almanac, we were saddened to hear of the passing of early and longtime Dead family member Bob Matthews. On New Year’s Eve 1963-1964, he was roaming the streets of Palo Alto with high school friend Bob Weir when they heard music coming from the back of Dana Morgan Music and joined to local music teacher Jerry Garcia for a jam, a meeting that would soon spawn Mother McCree’s Uptown Jug Champions. Though Matthews would perform in both Mother McCree’s and as bassist in the first incarnation of the New Riders of the Purple Sage in 1969, his role with the Dead was part of the core of the band’s early recording team along with Betty Cantor-Jackson. Pivotal in the recording of Live/Dead, Workingman’s Dead, Garcia, Ace, Europe ’72, and other albums, Matthews also served as band’s live engineer in the early ’70s.

We were incredibly honored to visit with Bob in 2018 for the Grateful Deadcast and speak with him several times thereafter, preserving stories of his work on Workingman’s Dead, Skull and Roses, Garcia, and his participation in the folk scene. Bob Matthews was, as he put it, an engineer who was proud to have recorded more than he erased.

BOB MATTHEWS

Bob Matthews with Betty, Château d’Hérouville, Herouville, France, June 1971. Photo: © Cadillac Ron /Retro Photo Archive

COMIC By Steve Vance

Music

ANNOUNCING DAVE'S PICKS 2022 SUBSCRIPTIONS AND
DAVE'S PICKS VOLUME 41

Welcome to The Eleven(th) year of the Dave's Picks series! The momentum of the series keeps moving forward, and we can truly say there is no end in sight to the series. As we've said before, as long as you keep digging and supporting the series, we'll keep putting them out. Which is to say a huge thank you for keeping the series going! We do what we do because of you, and you keep inspiring us to do our best. And above all, you make it fun! As odd and challenging a year 2021 was, we were able to release five (!) incredible Grateful Dead shows in 2021 through the Dave's Picks series, starting with the magnificent Vol. 37 from 4/15/78, to Nassau on 9/8/73, the Spectrum on 4/26/83, and most recently 7/18/90 AND 7/19/90. Plus a healthy amount of bonus material where it would fit and where appropriate. Oh, and the subscribers' Bonus Disc from 9/7/73 that came with Vol. 38. As great as the four from 2021 were, we're already feeling 2022 will outdo it, and we've only selected Vol. 41 and Vol. 42 so far, as well as a lot of progress toward Vol. 43. But that's all for another time. For now, please know how much your enthusiasm means to us. We get as excited as you do every time a Dave's Picks is released. So thanks for coming along for the ride, and sharing the journey with us. We have a wonderful year of Grateful Dead archival releases ahead, and we can't wait to share it all with you.

David Lemieux
October 2021

Is there anything better than the Dead automatically showing up at your door four times a year? We think not. We're holding steady with a numbered, limited-edition of 25,000 for each of the four Dave's Picks 2022 releases. But make no mistake, the best bet is to subscribe, sit back, and relax because you never know how fast each title will go when we put them up for sale, and there have been plenty of times where we're done in a day.

If you're new here, in addition to the four releases in 2022, totaling a minimum of 12 CDs, you’ll also get the subscription exclusive bonus disc, which remains one of the most highly sought-after collectables we release, and free domestic shipping. Subscriber bonus discs are not released outside of this offer. Early bird subscribers can nab a sub at $99.98 (regular pricing will be $115.92).

EARLY BIRD PRICING ENDS WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 17TH AT 9:00 PM PT.

GET ONE AND GIFT ONE

INTRODUCING DAVE'S PICKS VINYL

We're heeding the call and dipping our toe in with the first official Dave's Picks vinyl. Due April 29th, 2022, DAVE'S PICKS VOL. 1: THE MOSQUE, RICHMOND, VA 5/25/77 will be released as a numbered, limited-edition of 5,000. Housed in a 2-piece telescope box, the 180-gram 5LP set will feature an etching on the 10th side and a booklet containing all the original content. You’ll want to grab a copy while you can!




PRE-ORDER DAVE’S PICKS VOL. 1 VINYL

LISTEN TO THE RIVER: ST. LOUIS '71 '72 '73

Steamboats and BBQ, ice cream cones and Mardi Gras - are you ready to laissez les bons temps rouler with the "gateway" to the Grateful Dead? Meet us, won't you, in St. Louis for seven complete and previously unreleased Dead concerts that capture the heart of the band's affinity for the River City.


LISTEN TO THE RIVER: ST. LOUIS ’71 ’72 ’73 is a 20CD set featuring five shows from the Fox Theatre - December 9 and 10, 1971; October 17-19, 1972; and two from the Kiel Auditorium - October 29 and 30, 1973.


The seven shows in the collection span slightly less than two years, but they represent some of the best shows the Grateful Dead played during some of its peak tours. The music tells the story of a band evolving, changing from one sound to another seamlessly, precipitated – in large part – by significant personnel changes in the Dead’s lineup.


Less than a couple thousand copies remain of the limited, numbered edition of 13,000. You can also get it as a hi-def digital download.


GET ST. LOUIS '71 '72 '73 DOWNLOAD ST. LOUIS '71 '72 '73

FOX THEATRE, ST. LOUIS, MO 12-10-71

Widely considered one of the best shows from the Pigpen-Keith era of the Grateful Dead, December 10, 1971 in St. Louis has it all: Pigpen singing lead on four songs including an 18-minute version of "Good Lovin’" and a very rare performance of "Run Rudolph Run"; a deep dive into the Dead’s psychedelic recent past with a monster version of "The Other One"; plus plenty of the new material from earlier in 1971 like "Bertha,""Loser,""Sugaree," and "Playing In The Band."


They also hit upon much of the music that would appear the following year on EUROPE ‘72, such as "Jack Straw," "Tennessee Jed,""Mr. Charlie," and "One More Saturday Night." And no Dead show of this vintage would be complete without the “hits”: "Truckin’,""Sugar Magnolia," and "Casey Jones" all make appearances. This is truly one of the deepest, most dynamic, exciting, and accessible live shows in the entire Grateful Dead canon.


GET IT ON LP GET IT ON CD GET THE HI-DEF DIGITAL

LIGHT INTO ASHES: FOX THEATRE, ST. LOUIS, MO 10-18-72

The second set jam from 10/18/72 is one of the Grateful Dead's most inspired and unique jam sequences ("Playing In The Band> Drums > Dark Star> Morning Dew> Playing In The Band") ever performed, and certainly ranks up there as one of, if not the greatest sequence of 1972, widely considered one of the Dead's best performing years. Dick Latvala had shortlisted 10/18/72 as a Dick's Picks, and we're thrilled it's now available in its entirety in the new St. Louis boxed set. The jam, though, is so special that it warranted its own 2-LP set, enshrined forever on vinyl, a sequence worthy of this rare honor if there ever was one. - David Lemieux


Limited to 7,200 copies, this 2-LP, 180-gram custom-colored vinyl features Plangent Processes tape restoration and speed correction, with mastering by Jeffrey Norman and produced for release by David Lemieux. Dead.net exclusive.


GET LIGHT INTO ASHES

GRATEFUL DEAD (SKULL & ROSES)

Not only did SKULL & ROSES serve up supremely fine tunes, it was also the one that scored the Grateful Dead their very first Gold record, introduced the world to the iconic skeleton babe Bertha, and asked the questions - Who are you? Where are you? How are you? - giving birth to the first official generation of Dead Heads.


DEAD FREAKS Dead Freaks, old and new, reunited this year with the release of GRATEFUL DEAD (SKULL & ROSES): EXPANDED EDITION. The 2CD set features the album’s original 11 tracks, newly remastered from the stereo analog master tapes by Grammy® Award winning GRAMMY® award-winning engineer David Glasser using Plangent Process Speed Correction. Produced for release by David Lemieux.


GET IT ON LP GET IT ON CD GET THE HI-DEF DIGITAL

7-INCH SINGLES SERIES: VOL. 20 & VOL. 21

We've made it to the very last round of our limited-edition 7" singles series. It's a double dose to wrap things up with Vol. 20: "Throwing Stones (Ashes Ashes)"/"Push Comes to Shove" on seafoam vinyl featuring artwork by Daniel Danger and Vol. 21: "Foolish Heart"/"We Can Run" on opaque blue vinyl featuring artwork by Cristina Daura. Both releases have been newly remastered by GRAMMY®-winning engineer Dave Glasser and will be available on November 26th. Grab a copy while you can!


SHOP THE SERIES

DEAD & COMPANY HI-DEF DIGITAL

We’re crossing the finish line to 2022 with Dead & Company’s Fall 2019 Fun Run and their 2019 West Coast Holiday Tour. Wouldn’t it be grand if all roads from Madison Square Garden, Hampton Coliseum, Nassau Coliseum, L.A.’s Forum, and San Fran’s Chase Center led to a 2020 do-over? Maybe we can make it happen if we all tune in! Live audio for these recordings was mixed and remastered by Dead & Company's Front of House Engineer, Derek Featherstone, and the band's Recording Engineer, Ross Harris.


GET YOUR DEAD & COMPANY HI-DEF DIGITAL HERE STREAM DEAD & COMPANY HERE

What's In Store


“If my words did glow with the gold of sunshine…”

Introducing the first official line of merch to feature the prolific Robert Hunter’s lyrics. Yep, we’ve been anxiously awaiting this moment too.

After joining the Dead in 1967, Hunter’s evocative wordplay added a crucial element to many of the group’s signature songs, from early tracks like “China Cat Sunflower” and “Dark Star” to later classics “Touch of Grey” and “Foolish Heart.” Today, his lyrics are so deeply woven into the band’s legacy that they’re as instantly recognizable as its Steal Your Face and Dancing Bears iconography.

Available now exclusively at Dead.net, the limited-edition lyric collection spotlights quotable lines from “Dark Star,” “Truckin’,” “Terrapin Station,” and “Ripple.” The collection is produced sustainably and made from either organic, recycled, or eco-friendly materials.

Designs by Alex Coxen "Terrapin Station," Matt MaCormick "Dark Star", Daniel Albrigo "Ripple," Gordon Thomas "Truckin'"

In The Community

SOCIALLY GRATEFUL

Socially Grateful

'Tis the season to be Grateful! Gussy up your social media for the holidays with one of our festive Grateful Dead designs. Simply download your selected art to your desktop and upload as your profile picture or animation.

GET 'EM HERE

GOOD OL' GRATEFUL DEADCAST

Good Ol' Grateful Deadcast

Season Four and we’re feelin’ just fine! Follow our long strange trip across the pod every other Thursday with hosts Rich Mahan and Jesse Jarnow. This year, they delivered multi-episode arcs on SKULL & ROSES and our ST. LOUIS series as well as bonus drops celebrating Robert Hunter, Keith Godchaux, Bear, and a never-ending list of folks who did the Dead in their very own time and style. In fact, they discovered so much good stuff for “Playing Dead,” they had to fit it into two episodes. True story! Listen in whenever you want, wherever you are, on your favorite streaming services.



We want to hear from you!

Did you hitch an unforgettable ride? Make lifelong friends on Shakedown Street? Marry the gal with scarlet begonias tucked into her curls? Tell us (briefly) about the magic moments, the tryin' times, anything the Grateful Dead helped see you through. You just might find your story on an upcoming episode of The Good Ol' Grateful Deadcast.


BINGE HERE SUBMIT YOUR STORY

SHAKEDOWN STREAM SPECIAL EDITION

This year also saw a special edition of the SHAKEDOWN STREAM with an 80th birthday bash for Mr. Robert Hunter. Singer-songwriter and Hunter-collaborator Jim Lauderdale joined David and Gary for the PRE-SHOW, followed by a celebratory stream of Foxboro 7/14/90 and some good old-fashioned fundraising for 826 Valencia in San Francisco's Mission District. 826 Valencia is a long-running non-profit organization started by the acclaimed novelist Dave Eggers and friends, dedicated to encouraging and assisting under-resourced students in developing writing skills. We know it’s one Hunter would have been proud to support. You can catch the archived Jim Lauderdale pre-show and catch up on old episodes here. And stayed tuned, you never know when we’ll be back!

Grateful Dead
STREAM THE PRE-SHOWS

THE DEAD COVERS PROJECTS

Dead Covers Project

We’re switching things up a bit for 2022 and if this here art is any indication, you probably know what we’re about to say. Europe ’72 50 years on! Can you dig it? Can you DO IT? Come along on an improvisational, explorational journey as we explore the Dead on one of their most prolific tours in one of their most exciting eras.

Come all ye Truckin’ Fools and show us that 50 years later, there is still “nothing like a Grateful Dead concert.” Can you deliver live takes as if you were on stage at L’Olympia or the Lyceum? Does that “Brown-Eyed Women” from Tivolis have you sowing for Delilah Jones? Let your creativity flow, visually and vocally, and your Dead cover could be featured on Dead.net during the month of February.

We'll be taking submissions as soon as January 1st but the holidays are a perfect time to get started. Simply upload your video to YouTube, tag it #DeadCoversProject, and we'll make it available to view on the band's official YouTube channel in February.

CHECK OUT THIS YEAR'S SUBMISSIONS

30 DAYS OF DEAD

2021 30 Days Of Dead Cover. Art by Bluesforsallah.

As the young folks like to say, it’s time to flex your Grateful Dead knowledge and take home a high-quality MP3 download every day in November while you are at it. 30 days of unreleased Grateful Dead tracks from the vault, selected by Dead archivist and producer David Lemieux? Yes, please! The tracks are yours, no strings attached, but we hope you’ll stick around for the chance to win some sweet swag from the Dead.

If you don’t know what we’re on about, here’s the deal:

You know your Ables from your Bakers from your C's, but can your finely tuned ears differentiate the cosmic "comeback" tour from a spacey 70's show? Each day we'll post a free download from one of the Dead's coveted shows. Will it be from that magical night at Madison Square Garden in '93 or from way back when they were just starting to warm it up at Winterland? Is that Pigpen's harmonica we hear? Brent on keys? Step right up and try your hand all November long and win prizes to boot.

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