What a year! Where do you begin? Maybe at the beginning… This time last year we were a couple of weeks away from an announcement that shook the foundations of Deadheads all over the world. A renaissance of our Tribes began that was second to none in a world that had changed dramatically since we last gathered at large scale pow wows all over the country. Sure we’ve been gathering at small theaters and shit like that for the past 20 years but that doesn’t count for as much. The rebirth of passions and creativity took flight in our community and for the first time we had an informational nerve system through social media to distribute the feelings, thoughts, commentaries, complaints, struggles and victories of a vast group of diverse people that make up the group known as US. We became the closest of friends with people we never met. We found refuge from the mayhem that ensued through the creation of groups we seemed to fall into by chance or by the intentional design of the tremendous intelligence that orchestrates life as we know, known to me as God but you make your own call. Ultimately it’s not a debate, it’s a decision…
We learned a lot about ourselves and those around us this year. We all had a choice whether we’d spend time complaining about everything in life and worrying about how we would be getting to shows or contribute to the recreation of our favorite experience in a positive way regardless of the outcome. We relearned the things that life’s endless array of challenges put before us along the way. We relearned how to surrender to the turmoil and love our way through it all, together.
For me personally, the year was packed with victories and challenges, struggles and triumph and every color that makes up the emotional rainbow of life. I gained a ton of friends, I gained a bunch of haters from those who didn’t appreciate my contributions. I was understood by many and misunderstood by a few. The good far outweighed the bad and the ride of my life took flight. I started the year as an absolute nobody and by July was an absolute nobody that was on the radio with Gary Lambert and David Gans to be the last guest on the pre show before the final night of GD50 in Chicago. Apparently, they took guests in order of significance. I assure you my view of myself is in no way inflated. Everybody runs onto the playground and the scene sorts us out. It’s always worked that way. I learned a bunch of things myself along the way…
1. Weir isn’t almost dead
If we’re lookin to handout a comeback player of the year award, Bob gets that shit for certain. Weir went from being too fucked up to get on stage at all to getting on stage too fucked up altogether. Not that long ago he was trying to sing Unbroken Chain while doing a swan dive into a bead of sweat he confused for a swimming pool on stage at The Cap. He now has the biggest, most industrial, red highchair that anyone has ever seen on the stage in case he gets the urge to face plant again. From cancelling a bunch of shows to heading back on the road relentlessly once again. Somehow in the midst of all that shit he managed to have a movie made about him where he spends a bunch of time talking about Garcia’s problems. Mama Mia… Might’ve been nice to pull out a mirror during that segment. In typical Weir form, he came out smelling like the scent of newborn babies and fresh sheets. Ain’t no luck, That brother learned to duck… There is ZERO doubt that Weir is the leader of this band and when he leads, everything is better. Bob gets the Comeback Player of The Year Award! He hasn’t been this good since the early 90s. We Love you forever Bob! Of course, you know that because people tell you that shit so often it’s probably damn near sickening by now….
2. Bill always did all of the most important drumming
In a year when Mickey played the drums with anything but drumsticks, we heard one thing really loud and clear all year and that thing was Bill… Mickey sat up there beating the living daylights out of things on his hallway of drums and those of us in the crowd didn’t hear a single thing he hit until the Drums segment of the show. I saw him use paint brushes, spatulas, Q Tips and at MSG at one point he was hitting his drums with rubber chickens and tubular pillows. At least he has gloves now to prevent his hands from calluses. Mama Mia… What a princess… I liked him better in the 80s when he was throwing sticks at Matt Kelly at the Nassau Coliseum. Matt knows that Bill hits harder too… #BeKind #JustKiddin #RatherDrinkBleach
3. Deadheads eventually love everyone after first hating them for a little while
When Trey was announced as the guitarist for the 50th Anniversary shows all hell broke loose. Hateful shit was flying around everywhere for 6 months. To escape it, I started my own blog and steered clear of the chaos choosing to create my very own instead. After the first night in Santa Clara nearly everybody shut the fuck up. After the 5th and Final show of the run in Chicago the rest of the people that hadn’t shut the fuck up yet pretty much shut the fuck up. Everybody did this just in time to begin hating John Mayer. The same cycle repeated itself with John which leads me to #4
4. John Mayer is definitely not as cool as he thinks he is but MUCH cooler than we thought he was
There’s certain things that you’ll never be able to get away from nowadays. One of them is letting somebody take a picture of you in a horrendous man bikini leotard hybrid thing on a boat somewhere. I’m not gonna say anything about shit he said in interviews because I say dumb shit all the time. Maybe not as dumb as the shit he said but dumb none the less. We all grow up and change and we all move on. His talent is undeniable and he’s had that in spades all along. It’s great to see the direction the tide is taking him. A rising tide lifts all boats and he’s been out to sea with the best of them as of late. It’s hard not to like him after this tour and the interview he did with Gary on Dead Radio. He’s done a good job. Not as good as most people think but pretty good. While I really like him, I’ll never admit it… NEVER! I hope he sticks around… If he doesn’t, the band will find somebody else that the community will hate for approximately 6 months until they play their first show and then you can refer to number 3 for the inevitable conclusion…
5. Oteil Burbridge is Jam Band Beyonce
For a brother with so much soul, it’s amazing that he’s continuously ended up in the most Honkie ass bands in music. I’m just glad that for the first time in the history of The Dead there’s a great dancer ON the stage. Oteil is like Jam Band Beyonce. If he got some extensions he could go mainstream! I Love him forever! I’m so glad Oteil got this gig instead of Mike Gordon. I love Mike but on stage Mike has the personality of a box of rocks. He’s much funnier on Instagram…
6. Peter Shapiro isn’t The Devil
While some still have their questions about whether or not this is actually true, I can assure you he’s not. Shappy went through the same initiation into the whole of The Dead Community as Trey did. A hiccup or two along the way, accusations that he was in over his head and what happened? He put on the best 5 Shows of The decade and spared absolutely no expense to make the event an experience that was above and beyond the expectations of everyone that went. He provided small things that made a Huge difference. Tie Dyes for all the stadium security, roses handed out by the thousands. He made a rainbow during a drought and stopped all wind from blowing in Chicago for 4 days. I communicate with him on a regular basis to this day and I’m glad to consider him a friend. We had a rocky start but he’s a generous and charitable brother in ways that many will never know or hear about. He also made sure that everyone got their ticket refunds in time for Christmas shopping…
7. Irving Azoff is completely out of touch with our community
The Big Pimp behind Dead & Company went about this one like it was a Christina Aguilera tour. He left millions on the table by not offering HD Streams for every show on Dead & Company Tour. Bands with far fewer fans and resources than Dead & Company stream every show they play with exceptional audio and video quality. While I have a sincere appreciation for the folks that have been running Periscope and mixlr streams, Fans in our community would buy every single show on the tour if it was available. I know I would have and I’m certain many of you would have as well. This isn’t a pop act doing the same show every night for a year which would make nightly streaming practically useless. We’re a completely different animal. You’re all about the money Irving, wanna make a bunch more? Offer live streams of the Tour this summer, you’ll be glad you did and we’ll be glad you did. Thanks for the free one at MSG! Shapiro would’ve streamed the whole tour…
8. I Love everybody and there’s not a damn thing anybody can do about it!
While my words often come out pointed and I’m sure they read much differently than I intend them to at times, I Love everybody. I’ve had the chance this year to turn some of my biggest haters into my closest friends. I guess it seems like sacrilege to some to make jokes about any of our favorite musicians but I don’t mean anything by it. I’ve been a tier 1, totally musically obsessed fan for 30 years now. My life with The Grateful Dead has shaped me in ways too numerous to count. The answers to life’s questions throughout the years have often been found through the music that has been the backdrop as well as at the forefront of the majority of my life. Not only have I received life’s answers through the experience but I began to have better questions at the same time. I also realize that the music and the experience is so much bigger than the players that happen to be creating it. Sure they’ve honed their talents throughout the years and have created the greatest musical culture that history will ever know but ultimately they’re extremely fortunate vessels through which the experience has flowed through. They’re skin and bones just like any of US. We’re all just about $15 worth of vitamins, minerals and raw materials at any store in town. Add to that the organizational spark of Life that animates the living world and all of US and you realize how similar we all happen to be. Have you ever heard Kreutzmann in an interview? He’s much cooler when he’s not talking… How about Weir? He says a lot of really cool shit but sounds like one of my kid’s toys when the batteries are running out. Without the pieces that came together to help guide this group of career renegades, I’m not sure any of them would’ve made it out of a car on Haight Street and yet they broke every conceivable record in music during the 50th Anniversary of their group birth. I wish Haight Street was called Love Street instead… Crazy that The Summer Of Love revolved around a street called Haight. Regardless, my love and appreciation for my favorite musicians is unparalleled. My Love for the community is so high ya can’t get over it, so deep ya can’t get under it and so wide ya can’t get around it! I Love y’all forever and I may be the first to crack a joke or two, but I’ll be the first to lend a hand as well. Thanks for helping me have the most interesting year I’ve had in a long, long time! Your support has made all the difference!
I wonder if they’ll use the same date that they announced Fare Thee Well to announce the 30 shows they already have scheduled for this year? That would be interesting… Love You Long Time and Forever My Friends! See ya on The Golden Road! Happy New Year!!! It’s gonna be a GRATE Year!
Dead To The Core,
Dean Sottile (pronounced So Tilly)
@gd50th on Twitter
Grateful Dean on Facebook