It was a gorgeous Wednesday in New York City as Phil and his family brought the band to Central Park by way of Peter Shapiro. I have to thank Shapiro for his endless kindness towards my family and me, as well as his interest in always going the extra mile to provide fans with the best experience possible, always trying to exceed expectations. Both Phil and Shapiro were coming off of a legendary weekend at Lockn and it can be hard to carry over that kind of energy a couple of days later. The day was even more special for me since I was taking my 5-year-old son, Jovanni, to his first show. The scrapbook in my mind recalled many moments from my years on the road when Phil’s kids were the same age as Jovanni. Here we were with one of Phil’s kids up there playing with him. The kid with kids of his own now… I don’t feel nearly as old as my memories prove I may be getting.

Some of the greatest memories of my life took place in The Warfield Theatre. At the time, it was as close to a trip to Amsterdam as one could take while being in the USA. We would wait in line for the second rail, right in front of Garcia. You had a counter to rest your drink and were eye to eye with Garcia who seemed close enough to touch. The red curtains would swing open and it seemed like the entire veil of any and all blind spots or barriers in life would swing wide open at the same time. The sound was so loud, crisp and clean that it created an internal shuffling of the soul and could shake fillings out of your teeth. Jaclyn and Gloria in sequinned dresses dancing and clapping, John Kahn next to Kemper’s drum riser thumping away and Melvin with the Spinning Leslie Speaker of Life pumping the place so full of his sound that it seemed like it made the place expand and contract like a balloon. I spent dozens of nights in that Temple calibrating my internal compass and making adjustments to my required trajectory in life. For me, a night that included every song being sung by Garcia was guaranteed to be a great night regardless of the choices. Those nights live forever on the highlight reels of my existence. I remember the Rodney King Riots blazing right past the Warfield and the show that night on April 30, 1992. The Warfield was one of the only venues in San Francisco that remained open that night and Garcia delivered a masterpiece of a performance! The show seemed to cover in song every aspect of the state of the union at that precise moment in time. There were plenty of moments that took us completely out of that vibe and into the stratosphere of hard rockin JGB. Throw Out The Life Line… Reuben And Cherise, which was played much less frequently than most JGB tunes… What a night! If any of The Garcia team come across this blog, I believe this night would be an exceptional release in the future. The emotion both in and outside of The Warfield that night was as intense and unique as I have ever experienced. It created an atmosphere where verses came completely alive and hit us in ways that were new, different, deep, profound and completely beyond description. Check out Garcia’s slide solo during Gomorrah. We were in a room filled with people from all different backgrounds, all different colors, in a state of unbiased Love and Unity while the rest of the country was up in flames. It always seemed like the hotter the emotional temperature of the world outside, the hotter the music became on the inside. That night was a great example of external emotional tension creating internally creative excellence.

Phil and The Family Band took on the JGB catalog to open the night in Central Park with help from Melvin on keys and Nicki Bluhm helping with the singing. Nicki seemed much more comfortable than she did during the Terrapin set at Lockn. She looked at Weir like she was a vampire and he was made of garlic. I don’t know if anyone else caught that but I sure did. Regardless, her vocals were outstanding throughout the night at Summer Stage and she seemed comfortable as could be. When I heard there would be a set of JGB music, I was inclined to set the bar low but I was Dead wrong. Phil and his Terrapin Family Band tore through the tunes with passion and executed brilliantly. The only blatant fumble was Phil completely missing the bass lick that starts the crank turning on Mission In The Rain. Dude totally whiffed on that one… If I was Phil, I’d end the whole “Friends” thing and stick to the Family Band. Grahame Lesh, Ross James, Jason Crosby, and Alex Koford sound as good as Phil’s bands have sounded since The Q. I’m sure there’s plenty of people that might not agree with me but that’s definitely my take. The music was tight, hot and inspired. I personally dig Grahame Lesh much more than most of the folks that have held that spot. Watching him grow with music and as a musician is a great experience. Watching him grow from a baby to a brother that’s in the running for “Beard Of The Year” is just as cool I suppose. Ross James is a party waiting to happen as well. Brother was bringing it all night long. Having Melvin on keys really made the night. There were sounds and energy coming out of his keys that kinda made everybody make that WOW face!

The joy of having your kid with you at their first show overcomes a lot of the challenges associated with having your kid with you at their first show. As much as I hate people talking during the show, my kid was slow to learn the whole, STFU when the band is playing thing. He would dance for a minute then say, “Can we go fishing tomorrow?” Dance for a minute and say, “Are we in New York City?” Dance for 30 seconds and say, “Is this the last song?” Dance for a minute, “Can we get Ice Cream?” Dance for a minute, “I gotta go potty!” Dance for a minute, “Is this the last song?” Dance for 30 seconds, “Can I play with Lucas this week?” Dance for a minute, “You think anyone has lollipops?” 2 minutes later, “Is this the last song?” Mama Mia, it never ended. His joy was certainly dwarfed by my joy just watching him. Many thanks to all of the beautiful folks around us that helped tremendously and added to his experience as well as mine in more ways than you know. Love y’all forever! Thank you for helping Jovanni have such an amazing experience! I write about this mostly so he can read it when he’s Grahame’s age…

I’m running out of time here so I’ll just say that the second set was played as good as the first! From Shakedown to Lovelight the music was wrapped in the love and magic that playing in a place like Central Park is bound to bring about. I think the original, Galilee, was great and had a sound that was congruent with the lineage of music that has given life to our community for over half a decade. The chemistry last night was as good on the stage as it was on our side of it! Watching Phil will always make me happy. I don’t know if I’ll live to see 77 but if I do, I hope I’m as cool of a fucker as Phil. In typical Phil band fashion, we got a toddler running out on stage to celebrate the moments that we all live for. It’s amazing that they always seem to give Phil the space that’s required to play while being out there. They totally get it. It wasn’t too long ago that Grahame was that toddler. Far out man…

One thing Shapiro should be known for is going the extra mile to provide fans with more than their money’s worth. Whether it’s thousands of roses and security in tie dyed shirts at FTW or having more stages, performances and hours than is required during a weekend at Lockn, he consistently goes above and beyond what’s necessary. In typical Shapiro fashion, everybody gets a free poster on the way out! It matches the signs that mark the way around the park. Another signature move that costs thousands of dollars to provide, with the sole intention of blessing everyone in attendance! Brother doesn’t have to do shit like that but he insists that shit like that is done.

Once again, a big thanks to all of the folks up front that were so kind to my son! You made it so much more enjoyable for Jovanni and I. I never want to feel like I could be interfering with the experience of others while I’m at shows or infringe on anyone’s peace or space. You all helped make it a night Jovanni and I will never forget! Love you forever!

Dead & Company news is definitely coming in a hurry! Keep refreshing that page! Sometimes, when people wanna bury news so it’s not seen too much, they run it on Friday. You think Dead & Co management think that way or will they just open the floodgates tomorrow? Will they wait until next Tuesday? I don’t know much but I know we’re getting some fantastic news!

Dead To The Core,
Dean Sottile (pronounced So Tilly)

@gd50th on Twitter

Grateful Dean on Facebook

Grateful_Dean on fans.com

Now that Jerry Week is over, we can get back to the business at hand. For many of us, that’s not really true. Many of us are living Jerry Life and August just means there are a few official tributes that we honor and participate. Moving on to what’s cookin now, Dead & Company’s Mexico shows sold out pretty quick. Last year’s Mierda Con Queso trip proved that you can’t just make up a band out of anyone you feel like and have a wildly successful event. I personally felt no urgency to see The Dead, String Cheese, and Panic all thrown into a blender and served up luke warm. Based on the attendance and availability of packages months after they went on sale, I wasn’t alone. I’m not saying everybody didn’t have a good time, I’m just saying I personally wasn’t motivated to activate or alert the resource management and acclamation settings that reside in my subconscious mind. Add Oteil, Mickey and John to the band and I’m busy meditating and manifesting an extra 8 grand quicker than most folks took to message boards to complain about it.

Contrary to popular belief, I have to work my ass off to make this shit happen. There are no benefits that come with being me. I had to log on and buy my shit like everyone else. Dead & Company Incorporated won’t be sending me a plane so I can fly out of Teterboro with the family. No, I’ll be like a fuckin mule carrying all kinds of shit we don’t need all the way from Newark to Cancun. My bride will likely need to have a replica of the bathroom in our home set up in Mexico. All 250 products will need to come with us along with 25 pairs of shoes. None of that shit will get used and she’ll be barefoot the whole time but it’s all gonna have to make the trip with us regardless.

I’m sure my 2 kids are gonna need to bring every damn toy they own. Fuck it spinners, shovels, buckets, you name it, they’ll have to bring it. My personal philosophy states that the beach itself is your playground and you have a left and right shovel, called hands, that should be all you require. I left home in 1988 with $40, a backpack and a car. I returned home 1993 with $40 and a backpack. The car got left in the parking lot at The Spectrum after I got tired of dealing with it. Amazing that I traveled probably a hundred thousand miles and saw 300 shows over 6 years with a net loss/gain of $0. In all reality, I gained everything required for life during that time, it just didn’t appear as financial energy. Well, life has changed a little since then. In my mind, I’m still that kid. I don’t even like buying pieces of furniture because I feel like it’s just another anchor on my existence. Even with decades clean and living a somewhat anchored and productive life, my mind is under the impression that we should be able to throw all of our belongings in a backpack and split at any time.

Enough of that, here’s everything you need to know about Mexico…

1. It’s not 1979. The music industry has changed and events exist outside of the $7 range. If you can’t swing it, I’m sorry and I sincerely wish you could. That being said, it’s not the band or managements’ responsibility to take your budget into consideration when planning shows. Those that can make it are no different than those that can’t. If you can’t make it at this time in your life, please realize that the people that are going are just like you except they’re not staying home. I won’t be roaming around the Barcelo wearing a fuckin Ascot and complaining about the absence of Grey Poupon. We’ll all be as close to naked as possible and lovin life in a unique and beautiful setting. The costs associated with this aren’t much different than planning a tropical family vacation that doesn’t include Dead & Company and CID acted like a travel agent to plan this shit out so I didn’t have to. Once again, I’m sorry if this isn’t a fit for you but the problem isn’t with the event.

2. While shitty things happen to people all over the world, the chances of one of US falling prey to such things is pretty close to zero. I’ve seen people posting articles about folks getting Cosby Cocktails and waking up in a negligee in the middle of the jungle. That shit isn’t gonna happen. The same stories revolved around murder rates in Chicago proceeding FTW. We’re not amateurs at travel or partying. We travel as a tribe and are pretty unfuckwithable. That’s a good word and it represents our long history on the road. If you do some dumb shit, it’s pretty much your own fault if you get some dumb shit results. When you’re on a resort that’s filled with DeadHeads, the acceptability meter for tolerance of dumb shit is extremely high and you will have more than enough leeway. I hope nobody oversteps the boundaries of dumb shittedness.

3. Bring a few rolls of toilet paper with you. You should probably bring the stuff that has aloe in it. Regardless of how careful you try to be, chances are you’re getting a case of the shits at some point. If you do, and you’re using that macho wipe at the hotel you’re gonna have a serious case of flaming o-ring syndrome. Hotels are famous for having toilet paper that could work a second job as a cheese grater in the kitchen. If you end up like a red assed monkey from National Geographic, trying to dance while your asshole is on fire, I told ya so…

4. Almost every resort is All Inclusive. That means you can eat and drink as much as you want! In the same way, air is included with every trip to a Porta John. You can breathe all ya want! I’m certain it will all be much better than a trip to the Porta John but my expectations are usually very low and I’m always happy when they’re exceeded. For those that are alcoholics, you’ll be able to drink more than the cost of your entire package over 4 or 5 days… Reason enough to celebrate!

5. We’re all gonna have the best time ever!!! While many folks say shit like, “Jerry wouldn’t approve of this”, I personally wish we all did more shit like this when Jerry was alive. Keep in mind, Jerry didn’t give a shit if you could make it to Egypt or Europe. I don’t think he would give a shit whether or not you could make it to Mexico either. I don’t know what Garcia would and wouldn’t approve and neither do you. Keep Garcia out of it. Brother is probably Scuba Diving in some mystical waters of the great unknown and chances are he’s not thinking about most of us at all. Getting a few thousand of The Deadicated to a tropical paradise with our favorite musicians in the middle of the winter sounds perfect to me. I look forward to seeing all of you there! This is the first time in forever that I’m looking forward to Winter!

6. There’s probably a consolation prize for those that can’t make it. That’s all I’m gonna say about that… You’ll know about it soon enough!

Dead To The Core,
Dean

@gd50th Twitter
Grateful Dean on Facebook