I just got my kids off to camp… I woke up with sludge coming out of my eyes that I assume is some of my brain that never returned to a solid state after last night’s liquefication. The only substantial problem with “Never Miss A Sunday Show” is always Monday morning. If I inhale through my congested nose hard enough, I can actually see the top of my head succumb to the pressure differential and flatten out. It doesn’t seem to be a problem since the flat spot goes away as soon as I reverse the pressure by blowing my nose… I did it all from the comfort of my own living room and still feel like a speed bump on a busy road.
Enough about that, Dead & Company continued its relentless run around the country with another night of mind-melting material. Apparently part of the energy that contributed to the power of the event was the addition of my friend, Allison Moseley. A Holy Ghost filled Mama with dreadlocks and smiles for miles was asked to sing Donna parts but humbly declined. It’s rumored that Unicorns have tattoos of Allison’s face on their calves. The stage was set for another night of musical acrobatics and our favorite musicians were well prepared to deliver the goods. Apparently, Mayer auditioned for a remake of “Joanie Loves Chachi” earlier in the day and didn’t have time to change before taking the stage. An episode of “Someone Dosed Chachi” was about to take place. As the band took the stage, Sunday’s Samson and Delilah immediately took shape and Weir did his best Stevie Nicks impression by grabbing a tambourine. It had as much impact as when Mickey plays his floor tom with one gloved finger…
The warm up quickly turned into a workout as Samson can leave ya gasping for air if you don’t have the wind for it. That’s why ya need to train full Rocky mode for this stuff nowadays! Half Step was a great way to keep the mother rolling and it reminded me of so many nights in the memory banks of my mind. When that tune started going across The Lazy River, Garcia would sing it like all of his dreams would be fulfilled once he got to the other side. His expressions as he sang would lead you to believe he was holding a newborn and praying through song that the precious child’s days would be filled happiness and protection. As the moment rooted itself to the confines of his carpet, he’d throw the pick hand in the air and lean back about 2 inches as the emotion grew rapidly from its roots. We’d go batshit crazy because he was feelin it that way and leaned back a few inches. That shit definitely doesn’t happen anymore but I still loved the Half Step!
Loose Lucy was up next and we all knew our share of them back in the day! That’s all I’m gonna say about that… Then the intro to Standing On The Moon… Here’s where I’ll get the folks that don’t agree with me. It was average. It wasn’t great. Just like with Althea, Garcia’s words had this incredible weight to them. When Garcia sang, there was actually a very definite mass that could be associated with the words as they came through him. Lyrics would leave Garcia’s mouth and there was a heavyness that would lay on your consciousness like a cold wet towel on a sunburn. It was unexplainably soothing while the density of his words were absolutely undeniable. While I’m at it, What’s up with John singing constant falsetto during backup and harmonies? It’s completely overdone and a little bothersome at times. One of Garcia’s great strengths that often goes unrecognized is his talent as a backup singer. Just about all of my favorite parts to most Weir tunes were Garcia’s backup singing. The way he’d take it full belly during Masterpiece or cool as liquid nitrogen backing up Samson. John could learn a lot by paying attention to Garcia’s back up singing. John is starting to sound like somebody that sips their drink from a cocktail straw… Garcia drank right out of the blender!
The GDTRFB was completely off the hook! Pure fire from beginning to end. While we’re talking about vocals, you’d think the guys would realize by now that Oteil has the best voice in the band. When he’s getting fed cornbread and beans, his voice comes from an incredibly deep and soulful well. When I consider how Garcia was really the largest part of the overall Soul of the band, Oteil is providing so much of that substance in this band. It’s not the guy that happens to be playing Garcia’s guitar parts, it’s the brother on bass that’s laying down the heaviest portion of Soul to the experience. His work all tour long has been in another world. He finger picks the damn bass like he’s playing with skinny guitar strings. High Time would be a great choice for Oteil’s voice and while it’s probably unlikely, I hope he gets a chance to sing it. That tune would suit his voice perfectly. The best thing that happened to Dead & Co is Mike Gordon declining on the offer. I love Mike but he wasn’t the brother for the job. Phish is KILLIN it on Summer Tour but I know a bunch of y’all don’t wanna hear shit about that… GDTRFB was stellar!
I’ve always had a habit of continuing to watch the stage after the musicians have left. It’s like continuing to watch the TV when the power goes out. You’re not sure how long it’s gonna be but you keep watching. When you keep watching the stage, you get to see how much effort is put into properly placing the musician’s water bottles during intermission. I swear there’s a dude that gets paid to spend the entire intermission continuously adjusting the position of the water bottles that nobody ever seems to drink. I want THAT job! That one I can definitely handle! After 45 minutes of making sure the bottles were just right, the lights went down again.
Sugar Mags starts a party with an immediate inferno, no need for a spark. It ended abruptly just before the Sunshine Daydream and the Gooey Groove that is Viola Lee was up next. That jam just covers you in psychedelic syrup. Another moment that reminds me of Garcia. His jamming would sometimes sound like the strings turned all gooey on him. Like his fingers were stuck to the strings and he was working feverishly to get them off. You’d look at him and there would be that constant squeezing and bending of the notes playing his guitar like a violinist. While the vibrato wasn’t always obvious to the ear it was completely obvious to the eye and had to have an impact. Anyway, Viola Lee kicked ass and Mayer and Oteil were KILLIN IT on that one as well. If you thought it couldn’t get any better, it did when Scarlet took shape. Another favorite that is growing its old wings back after increasing repetition. The jams in and between Scarlet and Fire are a total kaleidoscope for the ears. The jams just fall apart while immediately reconstructing themselves over and over again. Just when it seems like all form is lost a perfect new form is reborn and it happens in a matter of seconds. Unbelievable… Mayer was blistering hot in the jams throughout while his falsetto Donna harmonies were slightly aggravating at best. I really do appreciate him stretching his vocals and stretching is good but how much you really need to stretch? Mama Mia… I’m probably just picking fly shit out of a pile of pepper but that’s what I do. His contributions obviously FAR outweigh any shortcomings and I’m Grateful he’s part of this incredible ride we’re all having. The Fire was as monstrous as The Scarlet and while I prefer the old ending to the new one, at least they all seemed to end at the same time on this one.
Wharf Rat was beautiful out of Space and as I sat and listened this tremendous wave of gratitude came over me. I thought about the journey that began for me in 85, much later than some of you and considerably earlier for others. I reflected on the absence of the community in my life after Garcia’s Graduation Day in 95 and the resurgence of my personal commitment to all of it shortly before the 50th shows were announced. I thought about the experiences that took me from a highway in NJ to sleeping in Golden Gate Park during the Summer of 89 using only my thumb to get there. I thought about the nights spent celebrating life all over this country with all of you for the past 30 plus years of my life. I reflected on those of you I have a deep love and appreciation for that I haven’t even met due to the Social Media aspect that has erupted in recent years. It was impossible to hold back the tears that had the color and content of so many different emotions on the spectrum. I became overwhelmingly grateful that I can now sing in my head, “I Knooooooow that the Lifffffffffffffe I’m Living’s Sooooooooooooooooooooo Good!!!” The opportunities that have presented themselves to me after 3 decades of sowing seeds of Love and always wanting to be a contributor for good into the lives as many people as I can and as often as I can. That lesson was learned because I was a tiny part of the greatest musical community that history will ever know. It was encouraged by my parents who didn’t necessarily understand my obsession but instilled many of the same virtues in me since I was born. The community that exists around US and through US today is as beautiful as it has ever been. While we don’t have Garcia and that’s like trying to make Chocolate Chip Cookies without Chocolate Chips, we have US! The Love that has been perpetuated forward with exponential intensity, had me so flooded with emotion that I couldn’t stop crying. I thought about how much I Love my family and felt terrible that I’ve considered selling them in order to go on Tour (If you read this Toniann, this was a joke). They are the deepest joy in my life and my heart. Their Love, beauty and tolerance for a man that is completely and unpredictably obsessive are unmatched. It wasn’t because of the way Weir sings Wharf Rat, although I do think it’s one of the Garcia ballads that he’s best on, it was just the way the floodgates of emotions happened to open at that point.
Sunshine Daydream came around to dry the eyes and get back to celebrating life. The moment built on itself like a wave and came crashing into the beach in cool and refreshing ways. The incredible joy lasted only until the Ripple… Then I relapsed on all the crying and shit… When I think of all of US, I think of how much meaning exists in ALL of it. The Shows… The Music… The Transformation… The Old and The New… The images from the past along with the experience of the present… The relationships that have been built on our common passion for all of this… There definitely IS a road… It’s definitely NOT a simple highway… The impact of the ongoing Dead experience on all of US celebrating life with our favorite musicians, along with some amazing new company, is every bit as emotionally developmental as it has been in the past… The scene around you personally is a reflection of the current condition of your Soul. I’d say for most of US, the purifying musical experience through the years that has cleared the waters that were once very murky has left US abundantly satisfied with what is presently manifesting as our reality. For those that can’t find the way still, or are struggling with the things that the meat grinder of life is putting you through, If I knew the way, I would take you home… Touch was a great second encore. Whatever it is that has any of US feeling like the road is too hard to endure, together, somehow, We WILL get by… We always have… We’re not only surviving, as a community we are completely thriving! Thanks for all of it! Everybody! Those On The Stage, those in the crowd, those in the past that have shaped a future that is our current present. Those in the present that guarantee our future is every bit as beautiful… Thank You! Thank You! Thank You! Total case of wet face like the guy from the Wizard of Oz when he heard Dorothy telling her story
To top it all off, Oteil ends the night with the clam chomp! That’s not for the Florida Gators y’all. That’s the official Clam Chomp! If you didn’t know before, ya do now!!! Who are The Clams? I’m not at liberty to say. Secret Society from what I’ve heard…
Love you forever! See ya down the road… Outta time and outta mind…
Dead To The Core,
Dean Sottile (Pronounced So Tilly)