Archive for May, 2007

Jungle luthier!

Wednesday, May 16th, 2007

Mickey Sussman heard me say on KPFA that I was coming to Kauai, so he sent me an email inviting me to visit him in his shop, Anahola Stringed Instruments.

I called for directions, and he advised me that he was deep in “Jurassic Park” country. The last half mile was quite a ride! A steep trip down a very rocky road – but it was worth it! There’s a river about a hundred feet below the houses, and jungle all around. Much splendor!
And then the guitars! I stopped taking pictures pretty quickly after Mickey sat me down in an open room next to the workshop and started handing me guitars to play. I tried out about eight instruments, each wonderful in its own way. I felt as though, with just a little concentration, I could have written a song right then and there. And I really wish I had had a recording device with me.
Mickey kindly invited me to come back another day with my digital recorder. I immediately got a brainstorm to record a few songs there and then sell ’em online to raise the several thousand dollars I’d need to buy one of these delightful guitars.

David Grisman sues YouTube

Wednesday, May 16th, 2007

My friend Paul Hoffman first alerted me to this news story:

Google Inc.’s YouTube unit was sued by David Grisman, a mandolin player who once performed with the Grateful Dead, over what he says are unauthorized postings of his music

Paul added:

I’m on Grisman’s side on this one. Google can’t pretend to be a common carrier and at the same sell ads that are targeted to the content on the page.

I expect David is mortified to see himself identified solely in terms of his GD connection. The man created a genre of music and has produced a legendary body of work. He deserves much better than to be relegated to the status of Jerry Garcia adherent.

GD treats on KKCR Sat 5/19

Tuesday, May 15th, 2007

As luck would have it, my Hawaiian vacation coincides with KKCR‘s fund drive, and I’ll be assisting on Saturday evening (May 19) from 6-10pm Hawaiian time. That’s 9 pm to 1 am Pacific, Midnight to 4 am Eastern.

KKCR streams online, and I’d love it if some of my mainland pals would make a contribution to this wonderful community radio station. The GD Hour has been a Saturday evening feature here since Bill Kreutzmann brought me into the KKCR ‘ohana a few years back. Our show is part of “Grateful Dead and Friends,” Saturdays 6-8pm, hosted by Jackie Row and Dove on alternate weeks. And Dove does a “Fresh Jams” show 8-10pm with Ratdog as a frequent feature.

I listen to KKCR at home in California quite often – so sweet to hear Hawaiian music and feel like I’m there for a while. And it’s nice to keep up with community issues in one of our favorite vacation spots.

To make a pledge, call 1-866-275-1112 or you can donate online

Thanks for listening, as always!


Sunday, May 13th, 2007

Surprise!, originally uploaded by dgans.

Well be posting photos from our Hawaiian vacation here:

Grateful Dead Hour #973

Sunday, May 13th, 2007

Week of May 14, 2007

Part 1 26:01
Grateful Dead 9/19/90 Madison Square Garden, New York City

Part 2 29:24
Interview: Lee Johnson, with excerpts from Dead Symphony no. 6:

The Grateful Dead Hour is made possible in part this week by:

The Complete Annotated Grateful Dead Lyrics, now in paperback, edited by David G. Dodd and Alan Trist with illustrations by Jim Carpenter and published by Free Press. Offering literary, historical, and cultural references to the Grateful Dead’ lyrics, this is a complete collection of all the songs you know – and some you don’t. The Complete Annotated Grateful Dead Lyrics is available now wherever books are sold.

The 10,000 Lakes Festival, July 18 through 21 in Detroit Lakes, Minnesota. Ten thousand lakes features Bob Weir & RatDog, Trey Anastasio, Government Mule, moe., Umphrey’s McGee, Little Feat, The Disco Biscuits, Keller Williams, the New Riders, The Derek Trucks Band and more than fifty other acts.
Camp Zoe in Southeastern Missouri, presenting the Schwagstock festivals, headlined by the Grateful Dead tribute act The Schwag, and the Big Summer Classic Festival August 3 – 5 featuring The String Cheese Incident, Los Lobos, Yonder Mountain String Band, The Wailers, MOFRO & dozens more.

Jerry Lawson and Talk of the Town

Sunday, May 13th, 2007

One of the greatest experiences of my musical life was co-producing Might as Well: The Persuasions Sing Grateful Dead, a CD that is (I am very sorry to say) out of print at the moment. There’s a studio diary with photos and links here.

I also had a wonderful time in early 2003 playing a few gigs in Arizona with Jerry and Vince Welnick. Wish we could have done more of that.

Jerry has a new group, Talk of the Town, and they’re about to release a new CD with 20 stunning A Cappella tracks. Check it out here.

More news as it happens.

David Cross vs. SCI and GD

Saturday, May 12th, 2007

Not sure where this came from. It’s posted on the String Cheese web site. Charlie Miller sent me the link.

Dead to the World 5/9/07

Wednesday, May 9th, 2007

It’s a fund-raiser! You can pledge online at, or call 1-800-439-5732 or 510-848-5732

US BluesBob Weir and Ratdog 3/19/07 Ram’s Head Live, Baltimore MD

with Mookie Siegel, keyboards

St. Stephen – Lee Johnson/Russian National Orchestra, Dead Symphony

Uncle John’s Band – Grateful Dead, Workingman’s Dead
Interview with David Dodd, editor of The Complete Annotated Grateful Dead Lyrics

To Lay Me DownBob Weir and Ratdog 3/19/07 Ram’s Head Live, Baltimore MD

Interview with Lee Johnson, composer/conductor of Dead Symphony, with excerpts from China Doll and Dead Overture

Well-Oiled MachineHot Buttered Rum, Well-Oiled Machine

Interview with Lee Johnson, composer/conductor of Dead Symphony, with excerpts from Sugar Magnolia, Blues for Allah, and Stella Blue

Sitting in Limbo->
West LA Fadeaway
Bob Weir and Ratdog 3/19/07 Ram’s Head Live, Baltimore MD

TipitinaThe Jolly Gibsons, Happy Jalopy

Interview with David Dodd, editor of The Complete Annotated Grateful Dead Lyrics

Ram Rod estate auction a big success

Wednesday, May 9th, 2007

SF Chronicle:

Top dollar for Dead’s skeletons

Grateful fans bid on road manager’s memorabilia to tune of $1.1 million

Steve Rubenstein, Chronicle Staff Writer

Grateful Dead fans, who have a tough time letting go, were grateful for the chance to shell out big bucks Tuesday in San Francisco for what less enlightened people would call, well, junk.

It wasn’t junk, said fans of the defunct rock group. Not hardly.

The stuff on the auction block might look like empty speaker boxes, corroded guitar strings and funky old steamer trunks, but it constituted the genuine and authentic castoffs of the great Jerry Garcia.

So the bidding started high, and it went higher.

One of the empty speaker boxes sold for $1,680. Other empty boxes sold for $1,200 and $900. In the 1970s, they had held speakers in the band’s enormous Wall of Sound concert loudspeaker system, but the speakers themselves were long gone.

Another treasure was a suitcase full of Garcia’s spare guitar strings. It went for $16,800. An empty red steamer trunk sold for $13,200.

As devoted Dead fans know, Tuesday’s auction fell on the 30th anniversary of a beloved concert by the band in Ithaca, N.Y., an event so stellar in Ithaca history that the mayor declared Tuesday to be Grateful Dead Day. Devoted Dead fans point out that it is almost always the anniversary of a beloved Dead concert, someplace.

The online article also includes a photo gallery.

BBC News:

Bonhams & Butterfields auctioneers said bidding at the San Diego sale was “brisk”.

The San Francisco band became global stars as the city became a counterculture hub in the 1960s.

They often gave free concerts, including several during 1967’s “summer of love”.

Shurtliff started as a truck driver for the band in 1967 and went on to become president of the group’s board of directors when the band formed their own company in the 1970s.

MagnoliaFest 2007

Tuesday, May 8th, 2007

Just got this email from Magnolia Music, producers of my two favorite festivals – The Suwannee SpringFest in March and MagnoliaFest in October. I don’t know yet whether I’m going to be on the bill, but I still want you to go – it’s a beautiful place to spend a weekend, and Beth and Randy always bring in a wonderful assortment of familiar performers and bright new lights.

Hey MagMusic Family,

We sure hope this finds you all doing very well and getting ready for a great summer. There’s lots going on both musically and other fun wise, so we wish you the best of it all.

MagnoliaFest – October 25-28, 2007

We’re getting geared up for MagnoliaFest 07. The lineup has not been announced yet, but don’t despair because we really do have a terrific one we’re pulling together! Sometimes it just takes a while for the universe to get in alignment with us and the bands so it’s great for everyone. I’ll send out an email as soon as we’ve posted the lineup.

In the meantime, MagnoliaFest Early Bird Tickets are on sale now! I’m passing along a special request from Beth and Randy – if you know you’re coming to MagnoliaFest and you can easily afford to get your ticket now, that would be a very good thing to help us out and we would appreciate it very much.

There are also other ways that you can help us out. Bring a friend who is new to MagnoliaFest. Put some lineup cards in your area stores or give them out to folks you think might be interested – just email and we’ll send you some when we get them printed. Many of you have supported us over the years in amazing ways, and we want you to know how blessed we are because of it. It really does take all of us to make these festivals happen in the ways that enrich us individually and collectively.

Patron Passes

There are a limited number of these special passes available. They include full festival laminate with special backstage access, your name listed in the program, meals, Signed Festival Poster, and a Festival T-Shirt. The passes are $300 each. If you are interested, give us a call at 904-249-7990 or email us at – we’ll give you a call back and let you know how it works!

EARLY BIRD MagnoliaFest TICKETS on sale online now!

You may also purchase tickets by phone at 904-249-7990. Our office hours are varying wildly right now, so please be patient if you get a recording. Leave your name and number and someone will get back with you as soon as possible. Get those early bird tickets now!

These festivals are held at the Spirit of the Suwannee Music Park in Live Oak, Florida, about 25 miles south of the Georgia line near where I-10 and I-75 intersect. The Park is on the banks of the Suwannee River. The producers and crew have developed a wonderful working rapport over the ten-plus years they’ve been at it, and all the musicians and fans I know wouldn’t miss it for the world.

My own musical experiences there have been really wonderful. I’ve performed with the Waybacks, Railroad Earth, Joe Craven, Peter Rowan, Donna the Buffalo, Ollabelle, Crazy Fingers, The Grass Is Dead, Jim Lauderdale, and many others. Good things happen at MagFest and SpringFest!

Donna Jean and the Tricksters

Tuesday, May 8th, 2007

Donna Jean and the Tricksters recently posted the following message on its website:

Dear Gang:

We know that recently we’ve been very quiet, at least publicly. It’s sort of like we’re elves, and it’s not yet the big day – we’ve been working ferociously, but it’s still too early to open the packages. For the past two months Donna Jean and the Tricksters have lived in the studio, and boy, are we proud of the results. You’ll get your first taste in June, when we plan to send out a promotional sampler with two studio tunes and two live tunes to accompany our summer shows. A full CD should be out early next year. The wait’s going to be worth it.

Best, DJ&tT

p.s. We ain’t kidding.

Ratdog on Conan

Monday, May 7th, 2007

It’s on YouTube, natch.

This week’s Tapers Section

Monday, May 7th, 2007

Really great music in this week’s Tapers Section:

* Dark Star 5/7/72
* Truckin’>Drums>The Other One>He’s Gone 5/13/72
* Truckin’>Nobody’s Jam>The Other One>Mind Left Body Jam>Row Jimmy 5/12/74
* Uncle John’s Band>Space>Wharf Rat>Around and Around 5/11/77
* Playing in the Band Jam>Drums>Not Fade Away>Comes a Time>Playing in the Band 5/12/77
* Samson and Delilah>Bertha 5/13/77
* Scarlet Begonias>Fire on the Mountain 5/7/78
* Franklin’s Tower 5/9/78
* Minglewood Blues, Candyman 5/13/78
* Ship of Fools>Estimated Prophet>He’s Gone>Caution Jam>Drums 5/12/80

Kudos to David Lemieux for this terrific “This week in GD musical history” feature, which he posts every Monday. All the previous ones are available, too, so if you haven’t visited the page in a while you can catch up on a wealth of fine music.

P.S. Regarding the 5/7/72 Dark Star, here is a web page about the Bickershaw Festival, posted by Mike Plumbley.

Fader magazine to feature Jerry Garcia

Monday, May 7th, 2007

According to mediabistro, Fader magazine is about to publish an issue devoted to Jerry:

Yes, you read that correctly. Fader, the well-regarded music magazine that is known for its indie cred and double covers, is set to publish its third annual “icon” issue honoring a single, influential artist. This year: Jerry Garcia.If Garcia seems like a weird choice for a magazine that normally spotlights emerging, even fringe-y artists, he is. The issue, hitting stands (and iTunes) next week, includes “as told to” style interviews full of untold stories and reflections on Garcia’s bandmates and friends, including Carolyn “Mountain Girl” Adams Garcia, the Grateful Dead’s Bob Weir, Bill Kreutzmann and Mickey Hart, David Grisman, Ornette Coleman, manager Richard Loren and the Dead’s legendary soundman Dan Healy — all of which sounds like it could be any copy of Relix, ever.

Support the Grateful Dead Hour

Sunday, May 6th, 2007

We’re always looking for underwriters – businesses or individuals who are mentioned at the start and end of the show. If you’d like to find out how to become an underwriter, contact Dave Weissman.

You can also support the GD Hour directly via our “Radio Shareware” page.