Tag Archives: GD 50


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

FB_IMG_1451310323859 artwork for posters by Big Pimpin Dave “The Prince of Prints” Hunter

It became apparent immediately that our favorite musicians spent their time off as off time. Nobody can fault anybody for taking a well deserved break after a fairly extensive tour. The holidays were probably spent as they should be I’d imagine. By doing as much of nothing as you can get away with while somehow meeting the needs of family expectation in as minimal a way as possible. I had a mentor at one time in my life that used to tell me that a week off is always followed by an off week. He may have been right but I decided his shit probably wasn’t gonna work for me. I like time off too much. Dead & Company opened up the night in San Francisco like a fat basketball team trying to run the floor with a belly full of Turkey and Prime Rib all covered with mashed potatoes. I’m probably not supposed to say that because it would be much more popular to stuff a heaping helping of fresh sunshine up everyone’s ass. Truckin came out of one of those pointless jams that’s not designed to go anywhere at all other than becoming Truckin at some point. Out of the gates came some old dudes running with glue on the bottom of their shoes. Doesn’t make me love anybody any less. Dead & Co still haven’t figured out that jam at the end of Truckin as a group just yet. That’s supposed to be a gigantic ball of tension that gets all rolled up and compressed before its eventual and incredible release. They haven’t really found the tension or the release in that one yet but we’re all having a blast anyway so who cares? Cold Rain and Snow is obviously a favorite of John’s and it was OK. Brown Eyed Women was good but nothing worth talking about afterwards. Black Throated Wind came dribbling in. Weir was pushing to make it as good as it could be but it was like trying to kick start a cold motorcycle with a broken leg. There was way more human effort trying to push the ship than what we experience when the ship is surrendered to its environment and the mystical force is doing all the pushing as the massive ship seems to move effortlessly through the sea. The nights when it’s the very best, effort seems minimal and natural as opposed to trying to make the magic happen. John’s take on Standing On The Moon did absolutely nothing for me. It was the musical equivalent of a fat chick in a half shirt. Even the San Francisco verse fell totally flat to me. There was nothing there. Decent solo at the end perhaps. I know some of you thought it was wonderful. Oteil continued to be the brightest spot in the picture and his apparent joy while playing brings joy to anybody with a soul. When I watch my kids play, they don’t have to try to bring me joy, it just happens automatically by watching them. Oteil is like that but he’s a full grown motherfucker! When he’s expressing his gift it’s full blown, unadulterated, Holy Ghost inspired Joy busting out all over the place and that shit is contagious!

Cassidy began and it seemed like the Cialis started kicking in. As unimpressed as I was with the start, I was definitely impressed by how quickly the dust was beaten from the old rugs and in an instant the experience went from disjointed and forced to completely natural and seemingly effortless. Cassidy provided the fuel to the muted spark that began to catch fire. The confusing jam segments seemed to fan the flames as the chemistry from last month caught up to the band in a hurry. Like many nights in Dead Land, it always seemed in an instant the machine could be taken over by the driving forces of life and change lanes from the average to the transcendental experience. That happened during Cassidy. U.S. Blues found some great spots and some inspired jams that had me high stepping to the stream provided by Moonalice. I caught myself break dancing during that one. Strong finishes always help to erase the memories of sluggish starts. Strong finishes also make for more entertaining and fun intermissions. As much as I love a good Birdsong, when that would be used to end the first set, the confusion of the jams lingered in an unsettled fashion all through intermission. People stayed completely confused until the lights went out again. All they had to do was throw a Promised Land after it and all that confusing shit would’ve been cleared out. In the same way, I’m glad they finished strong.

Samson has long been a staple of Sunday Night shows and it seemed like the set break provided all the time the band needed to reconnect and return to the single minded entity we became accustomed to throughout November. Samson jams infuse a room with the particles required for environmental acceleration and kicked off the dance party with some rigorous cardio. The Deal was excellent and wound down awkwardly into He’s Gone. I’ve wondered hundreds of times throughout the years how Mickey felt during that one… Its meaning has definitely made a lot of changes over the years. Estimated was always better to hear in California than anywhere else and has always been the Weir tune in the pre drums slot with the most power, authority and potential. When I think back on The Warlocks in Hampton in 89, the only thing that prevented the first night from absolute perfection was following the Help->Slip->Franklin’s bust out with Victim Or The Crime. If Estimated was in that slot that night, it would’ve been perfection. they ended up putting that together at The Spectrum in Philly later that tour and that was a monumental night in what was probably the best complete Tour I ever personally did, Fall of 89.

Eyes was tremendous as always and Oteil has helped that tune become more than it ever was. In my opinion, No other member of Dead & Company has done that. Nobody else has brought something to a tune and made it better than it was before they got there. Oteil’s take on Eyes has elevated the entire song to a higher place than it existed previously.

Drums and Space was drummy and spacey… Bill and Mickey never disappoint. Except maybe when Mickey licked the beam… That might’ve been slightly disappointing… He’s Mickey tho… Captain of The Percussive Universe! He can do whatever the hell he wants and we should all bow at his brilliance. The healing properties of his more esoteric work have cured insomnia in thousands of people… While I love to joke about shit, I’m all about his work in the healing properties of music and I’m certain throughout the course of their careers The Dead have cured all kinds of people of all kinds of stuff without either party knowing the depth of what has taken place. Love you forever Rhythm Devils!

Black Peter came limping out of space and out of all the epic Garcia ballads, this one sits most comfortably with this group of musicians as it presents itself to my ears. It’s constructed with colors that Mayer paints with intrinsically and lends itself to the natural inclinations of his innate gifts. It’s a tremendous example of the beauty that can be found and experienced through melancholy events. The sorrow that exists within the song is wrapped in this deep textured sonic vibration that takes half of it’s fabric from tears and the other half through the peace found in an eventual surrender to inevitable circumstances. There’s a lot of lessons that have been learned through the years within the enormous heart of that song. GDTRFB is always a fun run up and down the neck of the guitar and has always provided ample opportunities for excellence. Soothing in its approach and lyric, searing in its potential for soloing and superb when it comes to making an entire room leave their seat and move their feet! It’s a great way to clear the air and redirect the momentum of emotions following a tune like Black Peter.

Ripple makes everybody happy and it did just that. I remember the first time I saw John Popper with Blues Traveler at Wetlands in NYC. I was blown away by what that brother could do with a harmonica. When they played there, it was the hardest tickets of the year at that place. I believe I saw Oteil for the first time with Col Bruce and the ARU at Wetlands as well. Those guys used to tear that little room up! The late 80’s were all happening at Wetlands! Anyway, It seemed like the entire band, along with John Popper, were high on cocaine for Casey Jones. The tempo was blazing fast particularly towards the end. Oteil was shaking his ass like a stripper whose rent was due tomorrow. By the final verses everyone in the band was grinding their teeth and wiping the residue from wherever they could find it across their gums with their index fingers. That shit was moving furiously! The tempos that started somewhat sluggishly with Dead & Company last October have definitely found a better pace in nearly all cases. Everybody left happy but tried hard to subdue their excitement in order to be more in line with behavior fitting of San Francisco. East Coasters forced themselves to pretend like they were much mellower than they actually are in hopes of being confused for native Californians. A fine time was had by all! If I had to guess, it’s gonna get better and better leading up to New Year’s Eve. The warm up is out of the way and the Help is on the way!

I hope Phil shows up tonight! Love you forever!!!

Dead To The Core,

Dean Sottile (pronounced So Tilly)

@gd50th on Twitter
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