Archive for the ‘“Grateful Dead”’ Category

Lights-Sound-Dialog: Grateful Dead in Boulder 1969-1981

Saturday, April 13th, 2024

Join Colorado Music Experience on Friday, April 26 at Fiske Planetarium for “Lights • Sound • Dialog — Grateful Dead • Boulder 1969-1981.”

This select symposium on the Grateful Dead’s visual and audio improvisation is in the context of the band’s four concerts on the University of Colorado-Boulder campus—at the University Memorial Center (1969), Folsom Field (1972 and 1980) and the CU Events Center (1981). Grateful Dead scholar David Gans, Micheal Sebulsky from the CU College of Music, and musician Kenny Passarelli (whose band Conal Implosion opened for the Dead at the 1969 performance) will perform and skillfully deconstruct the Dead’s musical improvisations from those shows, and representatives from Spontanuity will recreate their psychedelic light show from 1969 on the Fiske Planetarium dome—using archival assets from the original event! Two shows, 6:30 p.m. and 9:00 p.m. Tickets are $35 + $1.50.

DG’s Stanford “Overture”

Wednesday, January 24th, 2024

Here is the address I delivered to the first session of “MUS 49 — Psychedelia and Groove: The Music and Culture of the Grateful Dead,” a class I am teaching for Stanford Continuing Studies.

I wanted to call this class DID IT MATTER? DOES IT NOW? The answer is “Yes, and… yes!”

Please think of this as the OVERTURE, with hints of themes to come. Just let it wash over you! Lots of these bits will be elaborated on as we go.

• We’re here because the Grateful Dead brought together a group of brilliant and musically diverse people, created a sophisticated musical language, and invited us to listen in on an ongoing conversation, in which the group gave equal weight to their original songs and their interpretations of songs from elsewhere – all woven together with a unique form of collective improvisation. As the years went by, they continued to expand their sonic palettes along with their repertoires, and large numbers of us stayed with them through all the changes.

• We’re here because the Grateful Dead played more than 2000 shows in thirty years, a great percentage of which are thoroughly documented in various media, and because several generations of Americans – and a few people on other continents, too – organized their lives to a great extent around their relationships with this band and its fan community.

• We’re here because the Grateful Dead cultivated an audience that welcomed new songs and was happy to hear a fresh twist on an old one.

• We’re here because the sailor gave at least a try.

• We’re here because there are web sites devoted to Grateful Dead set lists; web sites where you can listen to hundreds of concert recordings for free; a scholar who makes mandalas that attempt to describe the universe of “Dark Star,” and another who delves deep into union records and rental receipts to map out Jerry Garcia’s musical travels from the 1950s til he died in ’95.

• We’re here because a lot of people like licorice.

• We’re here because, as Gary Lambert likes to point out, the Grateful Dead performed unstructured, abstract music to audiences of thousands on a regular basis.

• We’re here because Jerry Garcia brought some of his bluegrass practices to the proto-Grateful Dead, thinking it would be great to have “an electric band where the instruments talk to each other.”

• We’re here because various members of the Grateful Dead collected and transmuted input from the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, Charles Ives, Ken Kesey, Chuck Berry, Lord Buckley, Ornette Coleman, Mississippi John Hurt, Bill Monroe, Bob Dylan, Miles Davis, Jesse Winchester, Hamza el-Din, The Band, Ken Nordine, the Bulgarian State Television Female Vocal Choir, reggae, jazz, blues, musique concréte, African and Indian scales and grooves, samplers, synthesizers, and such.

• We’re here because as Mikal Gilmore wrote, “At their best, they were a band capable of surprising both themselves and their audience… playing as if they had spent their whole lives learning to make music as a way of talking to one another, and as if music were the language of their sodality, and therefore their history.”

• We’re here because you ain’t gonna learn what you don’t wanna know.

• We’re here because the studio recording of “Dark Star” is less than three minutes long while live performances tended to go for 20 or so and once peaked at 48 minutes.

• We’re here because Sue Swanson, Connie Bonner, and Bob Matthews decided to help their pals the Warlocks become famous so they could all meet the Beatles.

• We’re here because the Grateful Dead produced not one but two brilliant songwriting partnerships – Jerry Garcia with Robert Hunter, and Bob Weir with John Perry Barlow – and because every other band member also contributed eminently worthy material.

• We’re here because, as Regan McMahon observed, Grateful Dead music is loaded with biblical references, death, and gambling. And I would like to note that Grateful Dead music features at least one talking dog.

• We’re here because a friend of the devil is a friend of mine.

• We’re here because when I became a Deadhead, I couldn’t find any books on the Grateful Dead until 1973, and when I published my first book on the subject in 1985 there were maybe half a dozen. As I speak to you today, there are hundreds of books about the Grateful Dead, and my personal contribution to the pile is up to five of ‘em!

• We’re here because a significant number of key behind-the-scenes players in the Grateful Dead world were women. There was plenty of sexism in that the various sub-subcultures of this scene, of course, but women were essential to the operation.

• We’re here because one of those women, Eileen Law – the face and voice of the Grateful Dead – was my main contact in the office when I was covering the Grateful Dead for BAM magazine in 1976, and it was her voice on the ticket hotline in the later years.

• We’re here because Donna Godchaux had the chutzpah to approach Jerry Garcia at a club gig and tell him that her husband was his next keyboard player – and it turned out to be true!

• We’re here because Jerry Garcia played the banjo when he was young and then came back to it in 1973 with Old and In the Way, a band that introduced a lot of hippies to bluegrass!

• We’re here because there were days when all we ever wanted was to learn and love and grow.

• We’re here because, as Peter Richardson told me, “The Dead seemed to flourish when Ronald Reagan was in office – first as California governor (1966-74) and then as president (1980-88).”

• We’re here because the Grateful Dead played so many benefits that they eventually founded a nonprofit, the Rex Foundation, that continues to do good in the world to this day, in memory of Rex Jackson, a member of the Grateful Dead road crew.

• We’re here because Les Kippel and Jerry Moore started a tape trading newsletter that evolved into a Grateful Dead magazine called RELIX that still exists today, and because of Mikel and Dupree’s Diamond News and Unbroken Chain and The Golden Road, and other periodicals that served the music and the community.

• We’re here because, as Nick Meriwether of the the Grateful Dead Studies Association tells me, there have been more than 600 papers presented at Popular Culture Association conferences representing more than 25 different disciplines “from musicology and literary studies to history and sociology.”

• We’re here because a web site called has listings of Dead cover bands and other related musical happenings every day, from coast to coast.

• We’re here because I know musicians in their 30s who couldn’t possibly have seen Jerry Garcia play live but who have become fluent speakers of the Grateful Dead language and practitioners of collective improvisation.

• We’re here because a band that isn’t the Grateful Dead played a sold-out concert at Red Rocks in Colorado a few years back, celebrating and re-creating the Dead’s sold-out performance in that venue 40+ years earlier.

• We’re here because the Grateful Dead played a big part in the evolution of concert sound, eagerly collaborating with various geniuses to improve everything from guitar pickups to PA speakers and everything in between.

• We’re here because Deadheads and other recording enthusiasts taped pretty much every Grateful Dead concert after the first few years, and distributed copies for free: VIRAL MARKETING before that term existed!

• We’re here because the Grateful Dead served their community by fighting for the right to issue their own tickets for their shows, and created a ticket office run by fans of the band to make sure the people who loved the Dead the most got to see the shows.

• We’re here because Lonnie Frazier got healed on a surprise road trip to see the Grateful Dead in Colorado, and because there are so many more like her who found fellowship in the Deadhead community. They didn’t all make movies, but I’ve heard so many stories! I’ll borrow a line from John Denver, of all people, to describe the feeling so many have reported when they arrived in the Grateful Dead world: “coming home to a place we’d never been before.”

• We’re here because as Jerry Garcia recovered from a diabetic coma in 1986, Merl Saunders spent days helping him to relearn the guitar.

• We’re here because the Grateful Dead inspired artists of all kinds to make graphical portmanteaus of GD and other corporate logos – such as a t-shirt that combines Grateful Dead and Federal Express on the front and WHEN YOU ABSOLUTELY POSITIVELY HAVE TO BE THERE EVERY NIGHT on the back, or MORNING DEW replacing MOUNTAIN DEW on a soft drink logo.

• We’re here because you know it’s gonna get stranger.

• We’re here because Tom Stack sold unauthorized t-shirts in the parking lot on Dead tour, became a licensee, and wound up running Grateful Dead merchandising for several years.

• We’re here because Courtenay Pollock went walking one day and wound up making tie-dyes for the Grateful Dead.

• We’re here because Ben and Jerry are Deadheads, and so are retired senators Patrick Leahy and Al Franken, former vice president Al Gore, Steve Wozniak, Bill Walton! and Tucker Carlson. And Steve Liesman, senior economics correspondent for CNBC, also plays in a Dead tribute called Stella Blue’s Band.

• We’re here because Patti Smith recorded “Black Peter” the day Jerry Garcia died and let me put it on a record called Stolen Roses: Songs of the Grateful Dead.

• We’re here because Stephen Inglis made a record of Grateful Dead songs in a Hawaiian slack-key style, and because the David Murray Octet recorded a kick-ass version of “One More Saturday Night,” and because Wake the Dead play their Dead music in a Celtic groove.

• We’re here because the a grade-school singing troupe called the Barton Hills Choir has released two albums of Grateful Dead songs.

• We’re here because Grateful Dead was something of a killer app for online community.

• We’re here because Grateful Dead was something of a killer app for online streaming of live concerts.

• We’re here because the Grateful Dead created their own career path: while most of the music business profited most from the sale and airplay of studio recordings, the Dead made their living playing live. Over time, as CD sales collapsed, the rest of the industry came over to our side: the bands that once toured to support their records now make records to support their tours.

• We’re here because Time Magazine, in an early-‘70s article about music fans, characterized the GD audience as “male lonerism” – but we turned it into a family-friendly culture that now sports three and even four generations of Deadheads.

• We’re here because at Jerry Garcia’s funeral, Bob Dylan told John Scher that Jerry had been the only person alive who knew what it was like to be him.

• We’re here because the Grateful Dead persisted long enough to become a formidable entry in the annals of the record business after all. Among other things, the Dead are tied with Frank Sinatra for the most top-40 albums at 56, and the Dave’s Picks CD series has the most releases of any single band, at 49 and counting.

• We’re here because Phil Lesh is about to turn 84 and he’s still playing music, and because Bob Weir is 76 and tours with a ten-piece band and occasionally plays with a symphony orchestra.

• We’re here because the Grateful Dead are more popular now than they’ve ever been.

• We’re here because Bill Kreutzmann’s son Justin made a film called Let There Be Drums, worked as a producer on The Long Strange Trip, and is currently making the definitive documentary on the life of Jerry Garcia.

• We’re here because “Sure don’t know what I’m goin’ for/But I’m gonna go for it for sure” turned out to be a viable career plan for me.

• We’re here because I have been curating Grateful Dead music on the radio and elsewhere for going on 40 years and I’ve never gotten the slightest bit tired of it.

• We’re here because Gary Lambert is a wonderful co-host! We have collaborated improvisationally on SirisuXM’s Tales from the Golden Road for 16 years, shooting the shit about the Grateful Dead.

• We’re here because Joel Selvin, longtime music writer for the San Francisco Chronicle, recommended me to teach a class on the Grateful Dead.

• And we’re here because, as it turns out, several hundred of you are interested enough in this subject that you signed up for the class. Thank you!

DG teaches GD at Stanford!

Thursday, December 28th, 2023

I have signed on to teach a Grateful Dead class for Stanford Continuing Studies. It’ll be six Monday evenings, starting in mid-January (skipping one week in February).

You can find out more, and/or sign up for the class, here:

The sessions will be recorded, and students will be able to watch later. This will be helpful to people on the east coast!

From the syllabus:

Grateful Dead music is collaborative and improvisational. Accordingly, I have invited guest speakers to join me in at least five of the classes. I’ve been an oral historian and a radio interviewer for more than 40 years; I have learned that conversation is a vastly more effective mode of presentation than lecturing.

Regardless of the stated keyword for the session, each of the speakers will have things to say about multiple topics, so we won’t really be confined to the nominal theme. Instead, students will benefit from the experiences of many experts, each of whom is also a life-long Deadhead with personal stories and perspectives as well as historical and critical knowledge.

For each session I will consult with the guest to create a playlist of, say, 60-90 minutes – reflecting various aspects of the band’s musical and cultural development.

We’ll trace the Dead’s trajectory from private parties and pizza joints to theaters and hockey rinks and stadiums, examining their achievements and struggles. We’ll see how this music and this culture affected the lives of thousands of fans; we’ll take a look at a tribe that has grown over the decades and now features Deadhead families four generations deep.

We’ll hear how the music changed over time, as the dialogue among these musically diverse characters inspired growth both individual and collective; we’ll see how the Grateful Dead invested in high-quality audio tools and sound systems to deliver maximum creativity at maximum quality from the Summer of Love to the summer of ’95.

Grateful Dead in Boulder CO 9/3/72: were you there?

Wednesday, May 25th, 2022

This is from my dear friend G Brown, who runs the Colorado Music Experience. They’re planning to commemorate the Dead’s performance at Folsom Field (Boulder CO) on September 3, 1972, and they would love to hear from anybody who was there!

Colorado Music Experience is looking for any anecdotes or memories from people who attended the Grateful Dead’s first show at Folsom Field in Boulder — 50 years ago, in September 1972. We welcome any musical or cultural input, but specifically, we’d love any intel regarding the explosion of “lids”/reefer that occurred near both sides of the stage in the middle of the show. We’ll post responses in conjunction with the Dead’s show at Folsom next month (6/17-18). is email address. (Thanks to our previous good work, we’ve got photos, posters, ticket stubs, etc. to festoon this info.)

Kickstarter for DG’s GD photo book

Sunday, March 6th, 2022

I have launched a Kickstarter campaign for IMPROVISED LIVES: GRATEFUL DEAD 1972-1985, a book of my photos and stories. Jay Blakesberg is producing the book and contributing a foreword.

Here’s the video we made to introduce the project, and and here is the Kickstarter page. I hope you’ll take a look and pre-order a book (or two)!

KPFA Grateful Dead marathon 2/26/22

Saturday, February 26th, 2022

T-shirt design by Dee Brenner

#KPFAMarathon is on the air! 9am to 1am PT


Donate at or 1-800-439-5732

streaming at and

A 1968 story from Phil Lesh

Wednesday, January 5th, 2022

From my 11/9/84 with Phil Lesh:

We worked for about six months at Columbus Recorders, putting all these two-track tapes of gigs together. We used stuff from the Great Northwest tour with Quicksilver, where we played out asses off with this material – really hot. Some of the tapes were terrible…

One of the gigs that’s like the core tape of Anthem of the Sun was that gig Garcia talked about in the movie, where he “threw me down the stairs” because I stopped playing for a while. I was lost – I couldn’t figure out what the fuck was going on. He said, “Motherfucker, you play” – mumble mumble. He just kinda pushed me out of the way. There were three steps up to a narrow door. I had my bass, and I just wanted to get past his ass and get out there, put my bass in the case and go home.

That was one night we weren’t high on acid. I don’t remember being high on acid that night. We were just playin’. If you’re not on drugs and you play shit like that, I dunno – maybe it… it makes you wireder, more edgy. It’s the kind of thing where people could take cocaine just to come down. Don’t laugh.

That was the first act of violence that any one of us had ever directed toward another one. It blew my mind, for about six or eight hours…. “You ever touch me again… “ You know how it is. And of course, the first thing he said to me the next day was, “Hey, I’m sorry,” and I said, “Hey, forget it.” That’s all you can really say.

The tape was so hot that we didn’t connect that incident with those tapes for a while. I think Jerry was the first one that connected that. He told me about it, and I said, “Are you shittin’ me?” Even after all that misunderstanding, we used those tapes of that night: St. Valentine’s Day, 1968, Carousel Ballroom. We used that for the core of “The Other One,” and “Alligator,” too.

This is the episode Jerry referred to in The Grateful Dead Movie. Remember? Those tapes turned out to be “crackling with energy.”

Fundraiser for Robin Sylvester

Sunday, October 10th, 2021

We need to raise $100,000 to help Robin Sylvester deal with ongoing health issues! Click this link to read the story! You can make a contribution here.

Dead Air with Lambert and Gans

Saturday, September 4th, 2021

Gary Lambert and I are hosting a chat show in the set breaks of‘s livestreams of the Dead & Company tour. DEAD AIR WITH LAMBERT AND GANS has been great fun so far! Here are the eight shows we have done to date:

Aug 18 Don Was
Aug 20 Steven Feld, Cameron Sears
Aug 23 Blair Jackson, Regan McMahon
Aug 25 Mikaela Davis
Aug 27 Jesse Jarnow
Aug 28 Branford Marsalis
Sep 2 Mark Pinkus
Sep 3 Joe Russo

The interviews are included in the Set II Previews posted for every show at Be sure to check out the music, too – this band is amazing!

The livestreams are great! Available now in 4K as well as HD. Audio downloads, too! I get them the next morning for my radio shows.

Kind words about THIS IS ALL A DREAM…

Saturday, March 13th, 2021

“I wanted to drop you a line about my impressions of This Is All A Dream…. I’ve enjoyed it immensely. Your formula of stringing together (more or less in line) snippets from multiple interviews of Dead Family members and associates works in spectacular fashion to bring this history to life. Many of the events described have been more or less well known for a long time but I’m finding the perspectives of two or more participants in an event recalled at different times lends so much more substance to it. And of course so many of these events have been heretofore been completely unknown to me. I’m delighted that you accessed all those first person accounts and wove them into this informative volume. Your book has an honored place on my shelf of Dead material.”

– Miranda Vand
quoted with her permission

My co-author lives on the next block, so when you order a hardcover or paperback, it’ll be signed by both of us! I’ve also got lots of music for sale in my online store,

Rare 1975 JG poster for KPFA

Saturday, February 20th, 2021

Jerry Garcia 1975. Photo by Frank Moffett

Tom Stack has donated five more copies of this rare poster for KPFA’s benefit.
Were asking $100 for the poster, and Tom will pay for shipping.

First five people to contact me ( can have ’em.

This picture was taken at Winterland Arena in San Francisco, California by the late Frank Moffett. Though originally booked as “Jerry Garcia and Friends,” it eventually morphed into a full scale Grateful Dead show, right in the middle of their “retirement year,” 1975. This was one of only 3 impromptu shows that year.

Taken side stage via special access, it shows Jerry in the midst of a contemplative solo.

Printed on thick stock, and measuring 14” x 20 ½”, this incredibly rare poster is one of a few left from an edition of roughly 500, and was personally approved for licensing by Jerry himself. All copies are out of circulation and in sole possession of a local collector, also an ex-employee of the band. This will serve as a beautiful addition to any Dead Head’s collection.

Michael Zagaris photo for KPFA

Saturday, February 20th, 2021

Photo by Michael Zagaris

This photo of Jerry Garcia and Carlos Santana, by Michael Zagaris, is available in a limited edition for a donation of $500 to KPFA. Click here to get one (and see the other thank-you gifts, too).

KPFA Grateful Dead marathon 2/20/21 – PLAYLIST

Saturday, February 20th, 2021

Art by Darrin Brenner

Donate to KPFA online!
Hosts: Tim Lynch and David Gans

Streaming live:

– Grateful Dead 5/23/82 Greek Theater, Berkeley CA

MY BROTHER ESAUBob Weir & Wolf Bros 2/12/21 TRI Studios, San Rafael CA

– Grateful Dead 5/23/82 Greek Theater, Berkeley CA

FUNKY JAM – Grateful Dead studio jam 2/28/75 Mill Valley CA

– Grateful Dead 3/30/73 Community War Memorial, Rochester NY

I KNOW IT’S A SIN – Jerry Garcia & Merl Saunders, GarciaLive vol 15

GET OUT OF MY LIFE WOMAN – Allen Toussaint, Songbook
SMOKESTACK LIGHTNING – Howlin’ Wolf, from Chess Blues 1954-1990
NEXT TIME YOU SEE ME – The Nightcaps, Wine, Wine, Wine
I AIN’T SUPERSTITIOUS – Willie Dixon, I Am the Blues
HARD TO HANDLE – Grateful Dead 3/24/71 Winterland, San Francisco

– Grateful Dead 3/30/73 Community War Memorial, Rochester NY

– Grateful Dead 7/13/84 Greek Theater, Berkeley CA

GOLDEN DAYSVince Welnick & Missing Man Formation


EASY WIND – Grateful Dead, Workingman’s Dead – The Angel’s Share
LOVELIGHT – Grateful Dead 10/20/68 Greek Theater, Berkeley CA

(4/18/78) – Grateful Dead, Dave’s Picks vol. 37

DEEP ELEM BLUES (partial – oops!)
Vince Herman 2/20/21

EYES OF THE WORLDBob Weir & Wolf Bros 2/12/21 TRI Studios, San Rafael CA

– Grateful Dead 7/13/84 Greek Theater, Berkeley CA

US BLUES – Bob Weir & Ratdog 11/5/08 Warner Theater, Washington DC

In memory of “Hippie Bill” Garbe

ONE KIND FAVOR – Jerry Garcia & Merl Saunders, GarciaLive vol 15
TERRAPIN STATION – Grateful Dead, Dave’s Picks vol 29
ST STEPHEN – Grateful Dead, Dick’s Picks vol 2
END OF THE WORLD BLUESLauren Murphy, Psychedelics
BEAT IT ON DOWN THE LINE – Jesse “Lone Cat” Fuller, from The Music Never Stopped: Roots of the Grateful Dead
SHINING STAR – The Manhattans, After Midnight

– Grateful Dead 4/4/85 Providence Civic Center

LET IT GROW – Grateful Dead 7/18/76 Orpheum Theater, San Francisco

Vince Herman
David Ogilvy
Gary Lambert
Mary Tilson
Kevin Hunsanger
Michael Zagaris
Tom Stack
Quincy McCoy
Laura Prives
Brian David
Mike Kohn
Krystal Pistola
Matt Busch
Derek Featherstone
Grateful Beans/Sandy Hall
Listeners, Donors, supporters!
This is what community looks like!

Kind words for THIS IS ALL A DREAM…

Wednesday, January 27th, 2021

J.W. Harris received the book as a gift and sent these kind words (shared with his permission):

“As I fully expected, I thoroughly enjoyed the read!! Moreso, however, I greatly respect and appreciate the task you set before yourselves in creating this work. As a former journalist, and now an all-too occasional freelance writer, I immediately began to see the herculean task the project wrought. On occasion, I have dabbled in the framework of oral history, but nothing on the order of magnitude “Dream” had to have involved. Hell, the mere collecting – and transcribing where needed – of interview material would be a bear alone. But the two of you not only did the hard work, you found the threads and themes to weave through the vignettes, creating a very conversational “history” – seeing events from multiple viewpoints, but now ‘narrated’ by the off-stage whisper of not only the two of you, but by Time itself. Praises … and the expected curses of one so Envious!! Seriously, a great job, and I am most pleased to add it to my library.”

You can order a SIGNED hardcover or paperback at Blair lives a few doors away, so you’ll get both autographs on the book!

Grateful Dead Hour no. 1660

Sunday, July 12th, 2020

Week of July 13, 2020

Part 1 33:32
Grateful Dead 9/9/91 Madison Square Garden, New York NY

Part 2 22:38
Commander Cody and His Lost Planet Airmen, Bear’s Sonic Journals: Found in the Ozone (
Grateful Dead 9/9/91 Madison Square Garden, New York NY

That’s it for 9/9/91. We heard the encore in last week’s program (in order to make things fit into the hour-long format).

The new release in the Bear’s Sonic Journals series is right up my alley! Commander Cody and His Lost Planet Airmen were right up there with the Grateful Dead and Asleep at the Wheel as role models for me and my musical mates in the early ’70s. Bear recorded them at The Family Dog in March of 1970, and these tapes and performances are brilliant!

The Grateful Dead Hour is made possible in part by The New Reverend Freakchild Album, The Bodhisattva Blues featuring Melvin Seals, Mark Karan and Robin Sylvester. The Bodhisattva Blues is available at your favorite digital music provider and from May these sonic offerings ease your sufferings in these strange times.