The Black Hole in Grateful Dead Releases

By my count, there have been 148 concerts officially released by The Grateful Dead. These releases have come in various incarnations, most notably Dick’s Picks, Road Trips and, the series of late, Dave’s Picks.And while it is a boon for Deadheads to receive any recordings from the archives, a black hole has emerged in these releases – 1982-86 – which is coincidentally the years of my touring. A grand total of four shows have been released from this era –  amounting to only one third of the 1977 releases alone. Even if we excuse the release of all 22 shows from the 1972 European Tour, this works out to a lousy 3% of the releases from almost 20% of their touring years.So what gives with Dave Lemieux and company? Is it that these years were particularly weak? I would argue the opposite, that these years offer stellar shows with stellar versions of stellar songs.

Check out these recordings on the Grateful Dead archive and hear for yourself:

Greek Theater 1982/05/22 (Lazy Lightnin’-Supplication)

Madison Square Gardens 1982/09/29 (Loser, China Cat-Rider)

Seattle Auditorium 1983/08/27 (Jack Straw)

Indianapolis Sports and Music Center 1984/06/30 (Shakedown-Playin’-Terrapin)

Worchester Centrum 1984/10/08 (Terrapin-Samson)

Augusta Civic Center 1984/10/12 (Cold Rain, Uncle John’s, Morning Dew)

Hartford Civic Center 1984/10/14 (Estimated Prophet)

Oklahoma Zoo Amphitheater 1985/09/02 (BerthaMe and My Uncle, Stagger Lee)

Henry J. Kaiser 1986/02/11 (Bird Song)

Hopefully one day Dave will wake up and get these shows packaged and shipped. (Providence 1986/03/30 is pretty good too.)

Our Failure in Group Think

Theodore Sturgeon wrote of group think, or bleshing, as he called it, in his novel More Than Human. The idea is simple, founded on minds working together, the sum of the parts being greater than the whole, celebrated by many in the arts, such as Phil Lesh of The Grateful Dead. It is the dream of musicians and anarchists alike, to be at one with each other, to guide and at the same time follow, and yet it is just that, an impossible dream for anything practical. Human nature is the flaw, our inherent need to always want something more for ourselves. Adam Smith and his capitalist crew celebrate this in what we can achieve – always in terms of monetary success – but it’s a far cry from all those other things we are told to cherish, and in the end, just don’t give a damn about. We lie to ourselves about everything – about who we are and we will achieve – just to get through and not think about the world as we have made it.

100 Dead Shows in 35 Years (& 2 Months)

Hampton Coliseum, Virginia, March 9, 1983.

  1. 04/09/83 (Sat) Hampton Coliseum – Hampton, VA
  2. 10/17/83 Mon) Olympic Center – Lake Placid, NY
  3. 04/16/84 (Mon) Community War Memorial – Rochester, NY
  4. 04/17/84 (Tue) Niagara Falls Convention Center – Niagara Falls, NY
  5. 06/21/84 (Thu) Kingswood Music Theatre – Maple, Ontario
  6. 06/30/84 (Sat) Indianapolis Sports and Music Center – Indianapolis, IN
  7. 07/01/84 (Sun) Pine Knob Music Theater – Clarkston, MI
  8. 08/10/84 (Fri) Rocky Glen Amusement Park – Moosic, PA (JGB)
  9. 08/11/84 (Sat) Caldwell College – Caldwell, NJ (JGB)
  10. 10/20/84 (Sat) Carrier Dome – Syracuse, NY
  11. 03/31/85 (Sun) Cumberland County Civic Center – Portland, ME
  12. 04/01/85 (Mon) Cumberland County Civic Center – Portland, ME
  13. 06/21/85 (Fri) Alpine Valley Music Theatre – East Troy, WI
  14. 06/22/85 (Sat) Alpine Valley Music Theatre – East Troy, WI
  15. 06/28/85 (Fri) Hershey Park Stadium – Hershey, PA
  16. 09/02/85 (Mon) Zoo Amphitheater – Oklahoma City, OK
  17. 09/03/85 (Tue) Starlight Theater – Kansas City, MO
  18. 09/05/85 (Thu) Red Rocks Amphitheatre – Morrison, CO
  19. 09/06/85 (Fri) Red Rocks Amphitheatre – Morrison, CO
  20. 10/31/85 (Thu) University of SC – Carolina Coliseum – Columbia, SC
  21. 11/01/85 (Fri) Richmond Coliseum – Richmond, VA
  22. 11/02/85 (Sat) Richmond Coliseum – Richmond, VA
  23. 11/07/85 (Thu) Community War Memorial – Rochester, NY
  24. 02/08/86 (Sat) Henry J. Kaiser Convention Center – Oakland, CA
  25. 02/09/86 (Sun) Henry J. Kaiser Convention Center – Oakland, CA
  26. 02/11/86 (Tue) Henry J. Kaiser Convention Center – Oakland, CA
  27. 03/30/86 (Sun) Providence Civic Center – Providence, RI
  28. 03/31/86 (Mon) Providence Civic Center – Providence, RI
  29. 04/01/86 (Tue) Providence Civic Center – Providence, RI
  30. 09/21/86 The Stone – San Francisco, CA 1986 (Kingfish w/Bob Weir)
  31. 10/31/86 (Fri) Henry J. Kaiser Convention Center – Oakland, CA (Bob Weir)
  32. 11/22/86 Warfield Theatre – San Francisco, CA (Garcia, Weir& Kreutzman)
  33. 12/15/86 (Mon) Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum – Oakland, CA
  34. 12/16/86 (Tue) Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum – Oakland, CA
  35. 12/17/86 (Wed) Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum – Oakland, CA
  36. 07/19/87 (Sun) Autzen Stadium – Eugene, OR (with Bob Dylan)
  37. 10/03/87 (Sat) Shoreline Amphitheatre – Mountain View, CA
  38. 06/25/88 (Sat) Buckeye Lake Music Center – Hebron, OH
  39. 09/22/88 (Thu) Madison Square Gardens – Manhattan, NY
  40. 09/23/88 (Thu) Madison Square Gardens – Manhattan, NY
  41. 10/25/89 (Wed) Miami Arena – Miami , FL
  42. 10/26/89 (Thu) Miami Arena – Miami , FL
  43. 03/21/90 (Wed) Copps Coliseum – Hamilton, Ontario
  44. 03/22/90 (Thu) Copps Coliseum – Hamilton, Ontario
  45. 07/21/90 (Sat) World Music Theatre – Tinley Park, IL
  46. 07/22/90 (Sun) World Music Theatre – Tinley Park, IL
  47. 06/09/91 (Sun) Buckeye Lake Music Center – Hebron, OH
  48. 11/16/91 (Sat) Knickerbocker Arena – Albany, NY (JGB)
  49. 03/20/92 (Fri) Copps Coliseum – Hamilton, Ontario
  50. 03/21/92 (Sat) Copps Coliseum – Hamilton, Ontario
  51. 06/09/92 (Tue) Richfield Coliseum – Richfield, OH
  52. 52. 07/20/92 Molson Amphitheater, Toronto, Ontario (Weir & Wasserman)
  53. 06/08/93 (Tue) Palace of Auburn Hills – Auburn Hills, MI

  1. 06/11/93 (Fri) Buckeye Lake Music Center – Hebron, OH
  2. 06/13/93 (Sun) Rich Stadium – Buffalo, NY
  3. 04/17/99 (Sat) Warfield Theatre – San Francisco, CA (Phil Lesh)
  4. 09/02/01 (Sun) Bumbershoot Festival – Seattle, WA (Ratdog)
  5. 07/06/03 (Sun) Red Rocks Amphitheatre – Morrison, CO ((The Dead)
  6. 09/21/03 (Sun) Gorge Amphitheatre – George, WA (The Dead)
  7. 08/06/04 (Fri) Darien Lakes Performing Arts – Darien, NY (The Dead)
  8. 08/17/04 (Tue) Alltel Pavilion @ Walnut Creek – Raleigh, NC (The Dead)
  9. 08/18/04 (Wed) Verizon Amphitheatre – Charlotte, NC (The Dead)
  10. 08/19/04 (Thu) Hi Fi Buys Amphitheatre – Atlanta, GA (The Dead)
  11. 09/01/05 (Thu) Central Park – Summer Stage – NY, NY (Ratdog)
  12. 02/15/06 (Wed) Beacon Theatre – New York City, NY (Phil Lesh & Friends)
  13. 04/06/06 (Thu) Beacon Theatre – New York City, NY (Ratdog)
  14. 04/08/06 (Sat) Beacon Theatre – New York City, NY (Ratdog)
  15. 07/15/06 (Sat) Tweeter Center – Mansfield, MA (Ratdog)
  16. 03/08/07 (Sat) Beacon Theatre – New York City, NY (Ratdog)
  17. 07/09/07 Central Park Summerstage – New York, NY (Ratdog)
  18. 08/12/07 (Sun) Boarding House Park – Lowell, MA (Ratdog)
  19. 11/06/07 (Tue) Nokia Theatre – New York City, NY (Phil Lesh & Friends)
  20. 04/05/08 (Sat) Beacon Theatre – New York City, NY (Ratdog)
  21. 11/01/08 (Sat) Nokia Theatre – New York City, NY (Phil Lesh & Friends)
  22. 04/25/09 (Sat) Madison Square Garden – Manhattan, NY (The Dead)
  23. 05/02/09 (Sat) Wachovia Spectrum – Philadelphia, PA (The Dead)
  24. 10/19/09 (Mon) The Grand – New York City, NY (Ratdog)
  25. 07/10/10 (Sat) Mann Music Center – Philadelphia, PA (Furthur)
  26. 07/29/10 (Thu) Nokia Theatre – Manhattan, NY (Furthur)
  27. 03/29/11 (Tue) Broome County Arena – Binghamton, New York (The Dead)
  28. 07/22/11 (Fri) Gathering of Vibes @ Seaside Park – Bridgeport (The Dead)
  29. 011/10/11 (Thu) Madison Square Garden – Manhattan, NY (Grateful Dead)
  30. 04/09/12 (Mon) Beacon Theatre – New York City, NY (Furthur)
  31. 04/18/12 (Wed) Beacon Theatre – New York City, NY (Furthur)
  32. 07/07/12 (Sat) Mann Music Center – Philadelphia, PA (Furthur)
  33. 07/13/12 (Fri) MCU Park – Coney Island, NY (Furthur)
  34. 10/04/12 (Thur)  Hard Rock Cafe – Las Vegas, NV (Furthur)
  35. 10/02/13 (Wed) The Palms – Las Vegas, NV (Furthur)
  36. 02/21/14 (Fri) Theatre at Westbury – Westbury, NY (Ratdog)
  37. 09/21/14 Forest Hills Stadium, Queens, NY (Phil Lesh and Friends)
  38. 10/18/14 Brooklyn Bowl, Las Vegas, NV (Phil Lesh and Friends)
  39. 03/18/15 Capitol Theatre, Port Chester, NY (Phil Lesh and Friends)
  40. 07/04/15 Soldier Field – Chicago, Illinois (The Dead with Trey Anastasio)
  41. 09/16/15 – Central Park Summer Stage (Phil Lesh and Friends)
  42. 5/29/16 – Capitol Theatre, Port Chester, NY (Phil Lesh and Friends)
  43. 06/25/16 – Citi Field, Queens, NY (Dead and Company)
  44. 09/14/16 – Coney Island Boardwalk (Phil Lesh and Friends)
  45. 10/14/16 – Kings Theatre, Brooklyn, NY (Bob Weir Camp Fire)
  46. 03/15/17 Capitol Theatre – Port Chester, NY (Phil Lesh and Friends)
  47. 05/21/17 Capitol Theatre – Port Chester, NY (Phil Lesh and Friends)Capitol Theater, Port Chester, May 26, 2017


Ratdog and Mayer

The hype on Dead and Company, the latest Grateful Dead side project, is befuddling to say the least, although the success of 50th anniversary shows have certainly led us here20150704_235138The truth is, however, that the fall tour of this hodgepodge and questionably-named band has little to do with the concerts in Chicago. Not only is founding member Phil Lesh nowhere to be seen – indeed he is concurrently playing in his eponymous band – but neither were Bruce Hornsby and Trey Anastasio included.

This group lacks the soul of earlier post-Jerry Garcia incarnations, The Dead and Furthur, neither of which were bedazzled by all the hype.furthur_0This band, headlined by pop guitarist John Mayer who has nothing whatsoever to do with the music of the Grateful Dead, is a dubious path for Bob Weir, Mickey Hart and Bill Kreutzmann and, if they are not careful, could lead to moments they might regret. bobby-bucket

The Virtual World – and Company

Just back from a one-month writing stint during which I shed, albeit briefly, my log-in addiction, I was able to find some focus in the narrative. 20150710_202206No Leafs. No Dead. No Bachelor.

My days became balanced and quiet, my dreams vivid. I wrote and read and hiked and wrote and read. 20150709_213432It was as good as it gets.

Needless to say, I have returned and been disappointed in virtually every corner: The Leafs traded Kessel, The Grateful Dead devolved into something called The Dead and Company and The Bachelor concluded with a Nazi-like denigration of homosexuality. bachelorette-bachelorsAnd I’m blogging about it again!

The Ecstastic Soul of The Grateful Dead

And so we went to the July 4th Fare Thee Well concert. 20150704_163240The Grateful Dead, even without Jerry Garcia, played with heart and inspiration.20150704_193831The sound was almost as great as was the feeling of being back at a show, that feeling of ecstatic calm, where it seems there is nowhere else ever to be, just in the music, surrounded, like a child, soothed, where everything else turns off, except thinking about what they might play next. 20150704_235138It is a precious, precarious thing that, now gone, has left me melancholy, thinking that they have to do it again – just one more, man –  where they just yet might get into a Lazy Lightning-El Paso-Supplication jam.20150704_235443


The Grateful Dead Is The Drug

I’m off to see The Grateful Dead this weekend in Chicago. dead-fair-thee-well-homepage-pfaAlthough tickets for the Fare Thee Well concerts were too expensive and The Dead’s marketing branch is selling 70-CD box sets for $700, the music remains the thing.

Santa Clara, CA - June 27:  performs on Fare Thee Well: Celebrating 50 Years Of Grateful Dead at Levi Stadium on June 27, 2015 in Santa Clara, California.  (Photo by Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic)

Santa Clara, CA – June 27: performs on Fare Thee Well: Celebrating 50 Years Of Grateful Dead at Levi Stadium on June 27, 2015 in Santa Clara, California. (Photo by Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic)

I was so wound up during my workout today – listening to The Dead – that I went through a series of adrenaline rushes, each one almost ending in tears, until I finally started to settle down after an hour and then had to do another hour to get my energy out. old dead showI saw my first Grateful Dead concert in Hampton, Virginia on March 9, 1983 and went on to follow the band over 12 years, seeing 48 concerts in such places as Lake Placid, Indianapolis, Oklahoma City, Boulder, Providence, Eugene, San Francisco, Miami and, yes, Chicago. bumper stickersKnown for a wide range of rock genres, The Grateful Dead will likely play much of their Americana at Saturday’s July 4th concert, including covers such as Me and My Uncle (John Phillips), Big River (Johnny Cash), El Paso (Marty Robbins), Me and Bobby McGee (Kris Kristoferson) and I Know Your Rider (traditional) as well as their own true America standards Jack Straw, Going Down the Road Feeling Bad, and US Blues. usbluesDamn it, I’m getting worked up again.I need to breathe.


Kubrick and Weir: The Laudatory Human Condition

Filmmaker Stanley Kubrick has been praised as a great filmmaker and artist, one who probes the shades of humanity in such great films as Lolita, 2001: A Space Odyssey and Barry Lyndon. Screenshot (994)Bob Weir, not as highly praised, is certainly recognized for “chasing the music” as he says, on his 50-year journey as rhythm guitarist with The Grateful Dead.  Screenshot (1020)And so I was intrigued to watch documentaries on each man this weekend to perhaps gain an insight or two through understanding their trials and tribulations.

It was not to be.Screenshot (1031)Stanley Kubrick: A Life in Pictures (2007) offers brief moments of filmic analysis amidst a tidal wave of laudatory praise, Steven Spielberg gushing, “He was a conceptual illustrator of the human condition”. Screenshot (1009)And so despite a 50-year career, we are left with the trite summation that Mr. Kubrick worked terribly hard and loved his family, little else.

The Other One: The Long Strange Trip of Bob Weir (2013) is worse. While some fellow musicians offer comments on Bob Weir’s work, the documentary is almost solely guided by bland recollections by Weir – “Here’s my Jerry Bobbblehead” – occasionally, boyishly and evasively hinting toward his notorious off-stage reputation. Screenshot (1027)His band mates are only briefly interviewed, likewise alluding, saying little else. Screenshot (1017)It’s a shame that both of these these documentaries offered so little, not that they should focus on personal scandal, but that they veered so very far from the very same human condition that these men had endeavored to understand and instead settled on empty praise.Screenshot (1004)