Maybe you don’t know this, but I am, for lack of better term, a Dead Head. That is, I am a fan of the band The Grateful Dead. Shocking, I know.
I could wax poetic about the intricacies and merits of the various versions of “Dark Star” from their Europe ’72 Tour (I’m looking at you, Wembley Arena, April 8, 1972), or how “The Other One” from April 24, 1984 in New Haven continues reverberating throughout and rattling the firmaments of the cosmos (right WK?), or about my Big Love for the June 15, 1985 Greek Theatre show (you’re with me on this, aren’t you, Rango?).
But today I’d like to talk about something completely different (sorry, Monty Python).
Even though the band ceased to exist upon Jerry Garcia’s death on August 9, 1995, to this day they still have quite the following. And they are good at keeping their fans engaged.
One such way is through an annual event called the Dead Covers Project. Its premise is simple: every February, they invite their fans to perform and video their favorite Grateful Dead tunes and upload them to YouTube. The people running the Grateful Dead’s YouTube page then create a playlist with some of the submitted entries. This year, the playlist has 415 entries!
Now, I’d always wanted to participate in the Dead Covers Project but could never find the time, muster the energy, or gather the right people to do it right.
Until this year, that is.
And so it was that on the first weekend of February, 2021, my girlfriend Sandy Connolly and I invited our talented friends John Hurley (The Red Planet), and David Golden (Cinnamon Sky, subMarine, and WPKN), to our studio in Madison, Connecticut.
We hung out, ate pizza, drank beer and whiskey and coffee, told stories, and had a lot of laughs.
Oh, and we also rehearsed and arranged three Grateful Dead tunes and then videotaped them.
Along the way we were very fortunate to have been lent some super ARRI lights from our friend, Chuck Landrey, whose generousness knows no bounds.
Also, my son Douglas was on hand, providing yeoman’s work in running our four cameras and two audio recorders, keeping fresh batteries handy, and generally keeping us from falling into fits of TOO MUCH MERRIMENT.
So here it is, our contribution to this year’s Dead Covers Project, or what I’m calling our Tiny Dead Concert (sorry NPR):
Before, during, and after recording, we had some spirited – and amusing – discussions about the meanings of the songs, especially “It Must Have Been The Roses.”
Was Annie dead? How could she lay her head down in roses with all those thorns? If there is only one pane of glass in the window, then why do they need to shut the door?
Alas, these discussions are better suited for another blog post. So stay tuned!
We hope you enjoy watching and listening to these as much as we enjoyed creating them!
As always, we’d love to hear your thoughts!