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Author: Subject: The Dead remain grateful to their fans

Sublime Peach





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  posted on 4/8/2009 at 10:41 PM

The Dead remain grateful to their fans as they hit the road
By Marco R. della Cava, USA TODAY

SEBASTOPOL, Calif. The long and winding road to Mickey Hart's front door screams retirement. There's a lazy breeze, a pond with a small boat, a barking dog and ... wait, what's that infernal racket?

There, behind a barn-like structure, Grateful Dead drummer Hart is hammering away at the side of a conga drum that's in need of repair. "There's always something to do around here," he says, flashing an impish grin.

So retirement will wait. Besides Hart's myriad ethnomusicology projects, he's about to hit the road with his fellow '60s troubadours Bob Weir, Phil Lesh and Bill Kreutzmann, known simply since founder/guitarist Jerry Garcia's death in 1995 as The Dead.

"It's always a delicate thing, because we don't want to step on the canon of songs but enhance it," Hart says. It's the group's first tour in five years, beginning Sunday in Greensboro, N.C., and wrapping up 18 dates later on May 10 in Mountain View, Calif. "We definitely don't want to be a nostalgia band."

The Dead were a feuding band when they regrouped in 2004, the year they set sail to re-create jam-band magic without the magnetic Garcia. But despite the best intentions, disagreements over financial not musical matters kept harmony at bay.

This time could be different, partly because in 2006 the band signed a 10-year licensing deal with Rhino Records, washing its hands of fiscal matters, and partly because with age has come an appreciation for being founders of a genre-creating band that led the way for the likes of Phish and String Cheese Incident.

That originator status is what makes any Dead tour an event, says Andy Greene, assistant editor at Rolling Stone magazine.

"This is not Creedence (Clearwater Revival) without John Fogerty, or Journey with a Steve Perry impersonator," he says. "It's as close to the (Grateful) Dead as you're going to get. And while I can't see new albums coming out of them, they still do really great shows."

And those shows are keenly awaited by a still-intact army of Deadheads, who range from kids introduced to the music from current jam bands to senior citizens who grew up with the band in the '60s.

Hart says the concerts, several of which will air on Sirius XM Radio's Grateful Dead channel, could be a high-water mark.

"We've worked out our difficulties, there's a new paradigm," he says, adding that the band has designated a friend as mediator. "Offstage, everyone now does what they want. There's no paying for someone else's parties. Besides, we're older and kinder. We listen to each other better. And we may have our own bands, but when I play with Bill, Bobby and Phil, it's not like anything else in the world."

The other three surviving members second that emotion.

"We're wiser and we have a heaping helping of unfinished business together," Weir says after wrapping up a sound check with his trio Scaring the Children at San Francisco's fabled Fillmore Auditorium. "It'd be a huge shame not to keep it going."

Bass player Lesh, a Bay Area resident, says the band "never did business well together, but we've taken a five-year break and are ready to play new tricks on each other."

Kreutzmann, the band's other drummer, says from his home in Kauai, Hawaii, that "we're getting along great." But what really energizes him is the fact that fans still want to hear what they have to play.

"Boy, am I happy to still know I'm loved," he says. "It's a blessing to be in the Grateful Dead."

This love-in will yield sonic joy for fans in the form of songs that haven't been played in group form in ages, including King Solomon's Marbles, Unbroken Chain and Till the Morning Comes. "When we walk onstage, it's a blank slate," Lesh says. "There's always the possibility of magic."

Lending a hand are keyboardist Jeff Chimenti and guitarist Warren Haynes. Weir says that as talented as Haynes is, he won't channel Garcia, whose imprint remains strong.

Kreutzmann confesses to "tearing up" when asked about the band's bear-like leader, who died at 53 while trying to beat his drug addictions. "Some of us didn't make it this far," he says softly. "But I know he's happy as hell way up wherever he is."

Weir reports that he still "hears Jerry talking in my ear when I'm onstage, saying things like 'Go over here (with the music), not there.' I hear his harmonic overtones." Lesh, meanwhile, says simply that he misses his "buddy and brother, but he's moved on to better things."

Back at Hart's ranch, in an upstairs alcove lined with photos from the band's early days, he tells a story about the time the lighting director asked for money to upgrade the production.

"We all said: 'Nah, it's fine the way it is. Let's save the money.' And Jerry goes, 'Come on guys, give her the money. How do you know the people aren't just coming for the lights?' " Hart beams. "Now, that was Jerry. Always kept things real. Of course, we gave her the money."

The booming laugh that follows seems to typify the band's state of mind. Open. Relaxed. Not too full of themselves.

"Listen," Hart says, leaning in. "We're just grateful for what he had and what we have."

http://www.usatoday.com/life/music/news/2009-04-08-dead-tour_N.htm

 

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Sublime Peach



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  posted on 4/8/2009 at 10:42 PM
http://www.dead.net/video09

New Dead video

 

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Peach Extraordinaire



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  posted on 4/9/2009 at 12:10 AM
so bobby has a third band??

 

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  posted on 4/9/2009 at 05:47 AM
nice article...thanks!
 

World Class Peach



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  posted on 4/9/2009 at 07:43 AM
Bob Weir's Scaring the Children is a one-off for a benefit show. The band did a Halloween show years ago, now Weir and Wasserman resurrected it. I think Jay Lane is in it too.

 

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Zen Peach



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  posted on 4/9/2009 at 09:02 AM
quote:
Bob Weir's Scaring the Children is a one-off for a benefit show. The band did a Halloween show years ago, now Weir and Wasserman resurrected it. I think Jay Lane is in it too.


Weir and Wasserman patched things up? Didn't know that. Rob is an extremely entertaining bassist, IMO.

 

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Extreme Peach



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  posted on 4/9/2009 at 09:09 AM
Why wouldn't they be grateful of fans that pay $100+ per ticket.... What's there not to be grateful about?

 

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Extreme Peach



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  posted on 4/9/2009 at 10:43 AM
those vids sounds good...getting psyched for Tuesday.

still can't figure out why Wier looked so lost at the beacon? Sounded fine on Bird Song.

Hope to get a Terrapin and St. Stephan!

 

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Sublime Peach



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  posted on 4/9/2009 at 11:13 AM
Nobody forces anyone to buy a ticket. Just saying.


They were very good at Roseland. I have hopes for the shows. We'll see if the vocals justify the prices they charged.

 

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  posted on 4/9/2009 at 11:29 AM
The tix prices aren't justified, but the shows should be good.

Kinda like the ABB.

 

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A Peach Supreme



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  posted on 4/9/2009 at 12:41 PM
Please Bobby !!! Let Warren and Phil steer the ship !!

I'm looking forward to the Nassau show in a few weeks. I hope Bobby is in better form than what I saw on Moogis with the ABB.

Man, I thought he was awful and muddied up the whole thing.

I think the guys in Rat Dog do a great job of working with Bob's unorthodox stylings. When he's outside of that box, he's lost.

 

Extreme Peach



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  posted on 4/9/2009 at 02:07 PM
quote:
The tix prices aren't justified, but the shows should be good.

Kinda like the ABB.


I have to ask this question... Why is it that no one thinks musicians should get paid for their work?

No one wants to pay for the high prices of concert tix. No one wants to buy cd's or pay for downloads. Everyone wants music for free. When it's cheap it's too much money, when it's expensive it's too much money.

But yet, tv, movies, magazines & the internet are filled with extremely well paid athletes and actors!

I agree that concert tickets are too much money, for everything except local bands. So, I just don't go as much... If at all. But I'm not putting the blame on the musicians though. I am a musician myself and I have to work full time at a day job and I still can barely afford to write, record and perform music or even think about touring. In fact, I pretty much am in debt from it...

 
 


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