Monthly Archives: June 2016

Photo credit Jefe Birkner

Yes indeed, as Yogi Berra said, it’s Deja Vu all over again! Even though Yogi Berra will always be remembered as a great Yankee, the finest team in New York, he did serve a short sentence as a Met. His final appearance as a player was in a Mets uniform on May 9, 1965, only 4 days after The Warlock’s first show at Magoo’s Pizza Parlor. Deja Vu seems to be a never-ending and continuous part of our lives in Dead Land. The second night at Citi was no different. In a lot of ways, Sunday was a day that seemed like an extra special blessing to me personally after decades of sowing abundant seeds into the community. It was in many ways the culmination of a lot of personal energy that finally seemed to bear some fruit. I had the pleasure of meeting Donna which only seemed like a pleasure to one of us. There was something still brewing in the air however that was much bigger than all of that. It was the arrival of Jess and Nigel Burbridge after their trip here was delayed for a couple of days. Rumors have circulated that Oteil’s wife, Jess, actually writes all of the setlists for Dead & Company. She obviously has impeccable taste and as a long time Dead Head understands the “Never Miss a Sunday Show” mantra. Hold on… I might be thinking of the wrong bass player… And the wrong wife… Regardless, the Burbridge family was together and that makes for a happier and more blessed environment for everyone!

Coming up on the anniversary of the GD50 Shows, memories come rushing in that are more recent than most tend to be. Weir’s return to the days of his youth started there and he’s been getting stronger and better every show since. The return of US as a community in a big way. The return of the greatest music catalog in history being played powerfully on massive stages through massive Meyer Sound systems. I think the most important ingredient this time around might actually be the absence of something as opposed to the presence of anyone. There’s a very definite absence of animosity on and around the stage. That’s probably making the biggest difference. The folks on the sides of the stage are dancing as hard as we are and it’s smiles for miles for most of the cast and crew it seems.

The residual good will that was still remaining from the previous night was all over the stadium and being added to hourly. Smiles and kindness radiated through the scene as The Tribes met at The Apple and elsewhere. Names were finally put to faces for some of US after a more than a year of communicating daily through social media in some cases. I personally got a chance to meet people I’ve had friendships with without ever seeing. It was great to meet some of you digital pen pals finally! YOU ROCK Laura & HL! It was great jammin with y’all! The air was properly seasoned for all the right things to take place and it was the proper day of the week to expect it.

When you open with St. Stephen, it’s already a good show even if there are problems the rest of the way. There were plenty of problems with the Stephen and it seemed liked nobody ever got on the same page vocally. That all gets erased when they jam the fuck outta the end and that’s exactly how it went down. Bertha is a fantastic way to keep things rolling in the right direction and was followed by my personal first set favorite by Weir, Black Throated Wind. I had to go to the bathroom pretty bad at that point so I was grateful for Peggy O. I returned in time for Box of Rain and that was as bouncy and fun as I could’ve hoped. GDTRFB was an outstanding way to close the first set. The jams in GDTRFB were tremendous. Oteil’s bass really drives that one in a direction that is entirely pleasing. US Dead Heads LOVE our bass players and Oteil is gaining popularity in a hurry. The brother has more chops than a Karate tournament and is as nice of a human as anyone out there. I personally enjoyed seeing Donna up there. She was a little low in the mix but I suppose that’s much better than being a little high in the mix. That’s all I’m gonna say about that.

The algorithms for predictability were all pointing to Truckin and as we should know by now, the algorithms rarely fail. New York! Got the way and means, just won’t let you beeeeeeeeeee! No No!!! The best thing about Truckin was the jam at the end that’s getting much better. I haven’t been able to put a finger on why the tension and release in that jam isn’t finding much tension at all. For some reason, when they’re supposed to be winding it up, it doesn’t seem to be getting all that wound up. It was definitely better but I look forward to them figuring out how to apply the pressure to that jam that makes it what it’s made to be. It’s not there yet.

He’s Gone was outstanding mostly due to the vocal jam at the end. Listen for Oteil at the end of that one. He almost went into a full blown scat solo, plucking the high notes and matching em with his voice. It was a fantastic moment only to be made better but the opening riff of Help On The Way that immediately followed. Slipknot found the resistance required to stretch the mind like salt water taffy. The jam found some extended exploration and wasn’t cut short by Weir for a change. I’m gonna say something about that while I’m here. Weir needs to let some of the jams go and stop trying to direct traffic so much. He’s always waving his arms around and cutting off John’s jams right in the middle of em. I can’t believe that Mayer is the one trying to really push the jams and go further with them and Weir has been the one cutting them off. When they really just let it go it’s much better. Let that jam take another spin around the block, if ya know what I mean… As Slipknot got fully compressed and then completely unwound I was stoked to hear one of my life’s favorite riffs springing out! Franklin’s Tower brings me as much joy as any tune I know. The jams were aggressive and powerful. The dancing that accompanied was exactly the same! That was a special half a set that was invigorating and edifying to the soul. While I’m talking about dancing, I have a question… When the fuck did people start bringing all the props and accessories in to dance with? Hula Hoops and rings and shit… Really? The Circus has turned to Cirque du Soleil. People have all kinds of equipment they’re using to dance. Juggling knives and swinging shit all over the place. I don’t when it happened. I’m still trying to figure out how I feel about it… That’s all I’m sayin about that for now…

The Days Between came out of space and provided the moment we all require and appreciate for a period of deep internal analysis. The lyrics as I age seem to speak deeper into my own journey. As a kid, I heard the song from Garcia’s point of view and it seems as I get a little older myself, the journey now is my own. Weir did a fine job relaying the intensity of Hunter’s last epic piece created with Garcia. I’m still willing to walk half way ’round the world on promise of the glow… Give the best I have to give… How much I’ll never know… Never Know…

The best thing about Dead & Company for me, is the after all that, there’s still a chance you might get a China-> Rider! BAM! The opening notes send us all into frantic dance mode all over again! The China Rider was blistering and delivered nearly everything you’d expect from a China Rider. You know those jams in Chinacat when Garcia is elaborately decorating the inside of my skull with notes that seem to cover it in vivid colors as the jam spins my brain around like some clay on a pottery wheel? It didn’t deliver that really but it was fantastic! The whole place was every bit as energized as it was during the St Stephen that opened it. My legs seemed to receive abundant new life as the second or third wind kicked in sending US shuffling with explosive gratitude through the stadium. What a night! What a weekend! What a Life it’s been!

In my final reference to the all-knowing algorithms of the obvious, It was Sunday and we were about to finish out the weekend by going to church with Samson and Delilah. Like most of the Dead & Co experience, it was only a couple of drumsticks away from being nearly perfect. Samson has grayed a bit and can’t run as fast as he once could and Delilah is probably gonna need a hip replacement before long. I think we all Love Samson and Delilah forever. While some tunes would seriously benefit from a shot of cocaine, they still possess the same magic that was inherent in them all along. To cap off a weekend that I’ll never forget, I stuck another perfect cartwheel down in the pit following Sam & Del. There were so many things that went right with this weekend that I’m certain I won’t remember the few things that didn’t.

I’ve been a little behind in all my ramblings due to having an increasingly busy life away from Grateful Dead Land so here’s my review of Hartford, Hartford was good.

Don’t forget to enter the amazing Dead & Company Sweepstakes for a chance to see the last five west coast shows in style! Details and entry can be found here!

Enter here for a chance to win and Good Luck!!!

Love You Long Time!

I just caught the news that Rob Wasserman died… My deepest condolences go out to his family, Bob and all of US… That’s tough news…

Dead To The Core,

Dean Sottile (pronounced So Tilly)
The Official Home of Unofficial Grateful Dead and Music News & Grateful Dean on Facebook
@gd50th on Twitter

Photo Credit: Katie Friesema

After a weekend like the one we just had, I’m attempting to come to grips with a few things… The first thing that hit me this morning was, Oh Shit… I have kids. Once I got passed the initial shock that’s induced by their absolute absence of passion regarding how I might feel this morning, I realized I was walking in quicksand. Only up to my knees, though. The next realization that’s waiting at the door should hit me any time now. Remembering I have a job. I always check the lottery tickets prior to having coffee to determine how much I’m gonna have to address any of that shit or if I’m going back to bed. I’m under the impression that if I hit all or most of the numbers, my kids painting the kitchen with maple syrup while I refuse to get out of bed would have a significantly diminished effect on me. Needless to say, I walked like Swamp Thing towards the side of the house where those precious little angels that wreck all our shit were waiting impatiently to show me how they mopped the kitchen floor with honey. My daughter must have suddenly become a tattoo artist because my son had full sleeve sticky tattoos on both arms. Mama Mia… Ya can’t go back and ya can’t stand still, if the hangover doesn’t get ya then your children will… Years from now, I won’t remember Monday morning but I’ll NEVER forget Saturday and Sunday Night!

The energy around CitiField was charged with anticipation and electricity for Dead & Co’s first night there. The weather was perfect, the scene was abundantly tolerant and everybody was ready to let the music have its way with US. In keeping with the algorithms I talked about in my review of Camden, The more likely you are to be mugged before or after the show, the more likely you are to hear Shakedown. Once again the algorithm stood up. If you didn’t head in a little early, you might have missed some of that. Getting into to Citifield was no easy task. Of course, part of that is the fact that damn near all of US typically head into the show all at once, about 1o minutes to showtime. Like the feeling on Monday morning, the wait to get in will not be remembered, what happened once we finally got in will never be forgotten. The first screenshots of Oteil revealed the Bolt Mohawk of life and made me completely Grateful that Oteil is Dead to The Core! Never in history has a haircut made that many hippies happy! Jack Straw followed and the eagles that filled the sky around NYC were made of steel and flying into and out of Laguardia and JFK. It was pretty clear that everybody was well primed and totally surrendered to the magnitude of the event and its surroundings. I was producing adrenaline like a woman with a newborn produces milk. Shit was crazy!

On the way home from hanging out in the city on Friday night, I made the mistake of going on an Althea binge. I listened to about 6 of my favorites and the one from 10/27/91 twice. This brings me to a helpful point in this discussion. If you’re going to see Dead & Company, it might be helpful to take a day or 2 off from listening to all your favorite Dead shows. Listen to some Jazz or some Aquarian Rescue Unit for a couple of days prior. If you can get yourself out of the headspace of comparing what’s happening now to all of the epic shit in your past, you’ll have an outstanding time. Since I didn’t do that, Althea was good and so was Loose Lucy but… You know… That’s all I’m gonna say about that…

All equations regarding the predictability of songs to be played continued with Ramble On Rose. Nothing like the roar that circulates through a New York crowd when we hear “Just like New York City!” You almost wish another verse didn’t immediately follow so the moment could last just a little longer. Sugaree was a little slow but steady and if there’s a tune that seems to lend itself to John, Sugaree is definitely at the top of that list. You remember when Garcia would get to soloing on Sugaree and he would start picking furiously at that one spot in the jam, just throwing as many notes into the fire as possible as the massive machine of sound would get hotter and hotter. We’d smile that smile that came from a joy so deep within us as this incredible monument of sound was constructed before our very eyes and ears. Garcia would cover a multitude of notes but somehow in the midst of the hurricane always hit one familiar note a little harder than the others as the jam spun around and around with fury. He’d take his time getting a hold of that one special note but when he decided it was the right time, he’d pull that fuckin string and nail it the center of minds sending waves of sonic euphoria throughout all space and time. All while standing there firmly planted, chin pinned to his chest, occasionally peeking over the glasses that were sweating down his nose to look across the floor full of raging fans, all of whom swear to this day that Garcia was looking right em. That shit didn’t happen but Sugaree was really good!

Passenger was great to hear and one of the few songs I could really hear Donna. It still needs some work before it completely comes together but we won’t remember the parts that weren’t perfect, only that we were blessed to hear it. Casey Jones makes ya dance like someone that’s high on cocaine and had all of US doing the Happy Jig together all over that stadium! The end of that jam proves that they could actually play at the speed of heavy metal when they want and left a charge in the air that lasted throughout intermission.

Dark Star was melty and the longer these guys play together the more the chaos jams seem to share a common mind. As they expand and contract, it seems as though we’re closer to everyone expanding and contracting at the same time. Even with the meltdowns there’s a common thread that exists keeping it from becoming nothing but noise. We’ve all heard bands try to do some of those jams and it just sounds like someone throwing all the instruments down a flight of stairs. There’s always a small particle of intelligent order within a chaos jam that can be identified in the musical mind. Without that particle it becomes noise. With that particle, it becomes magic.

FOTD followed and talking with a friend at the moment, we felt it was misplaced and kinda didn’t fit there. I saw the next day that something was scratched on the setlist and replaced by FOTD. I wasn’t surprised. There are very few things that I know of in life that have the physiological impact that the first notes of Scarlet have on my nervous system. My entire being becomes deeply invested in the moment and every second of my life seems to have a second to spare. It instantly feels as though more room for joy exists within my vessel as happiness seems to multiply like cell growth through a microscope within me. Saturday night was no different and every cylinder of the engine driving The Dead & Co experience was firing at once. I spent the whole night dancing at the back of the floor and the dude from Breaking Bad was hanging with his lady there most of the night as well. I never watched the show and I didn’t know who he was but just about everyone else did. When he saw me breaking out my own badass dance moves, him and his lady were kinda like this!Breakingbaddude

We had a great time jamming together and shared a couple of fun moments. They emitted a vibe that was pleasing and took the time to take pics with everyone that asked for them. Nice guy! His lady and I did a little Robot dancin and brought the 80’s back for a second.

Oteil’s big notes that lead into the Other One reverberated through the stadium as the frantic psychedelic jam moved powerfully through the atmosphere blasting everything in its way completely out of sight. Wharf Rat was handled admirably by Weir yet one can never hear that tune without taking a few moments to internally search for the files in our brains that contain the data left there by Garcia years ago. Some chick went into a fuckin ballet routine during Wharf Rat that was totally top shelf material. I mean… She wasn’t one of those fuckers that was trying to dance gracefully and shit. We’ve all seen the ladies that go for some stuff like that and fall down a few times. I’m talking top level ballet she was busting out! At one point I considered putting on some tights and lifting her into the air… The idea made me laugh in my head. Only in Grateful Dead Land… Everybody has been waiting for Throwing Stones and everybody finally got it. One of the highlights of last year’s Chicago shows, it was good but not Chicago good. If Trey had a time in Chicago that he seemed to really take charge of the moment, Throwing Stones was probably it. He drove that jam into oblivion, killed it then put the motherfucker on life support and brought it back to life again! That was a special moment that will live forever. It was good but as with everything Dead & Co has done, will get much better with a little repetition.

What could be better than coming out and doing an acoustic Ripple? Not much really. It allowed all of US to palpably feel the love that was gathered together to celebrate life under the stars in the world’s greatest city. What a fabulous moment. The only thing that could make it better would be another encore and nobody needs algorithms to know what that was gonna be. Saturday night took 35,000 fans right back to fever mode as the stadium was scorched from top to bottom in a way that was so packed with energy I busted out a damn cartwheel at the end of the tune… Then, in a shocking turn of events, my friend , Liz, busted out a perfect fuckin cartwheel immediately following… Shocked the shit out of both us… Then a dude runs up and busts out one of those breakdancing poses like this here! We couldn’t stop laughing! Such a tremendous night in the Big Apple for all of US! What a night!!! 7887752-Africna-American-hip-hop-dancer-performing-a-side-hand-and-head-stand-Stock-Photo

Love You Long Time! Part 2 is coming right up! It only got better!!!

Dead To The Core,

Dean Sottile (pronounced So Tilly)