With another circle around sun for our, “shining ball of blue we can call our home” it is safe to say in retrospect it has been a rather rewarding one for Deadheads. With not just a summer Dead and Company tour, but an additional fall tour and numerous appearances from our favorite psychedelic cowboys at events around the country, twenty two years after the passing of Jerry Garcia, it is a good time to be a Deadhead. As we move into the new year with excitement for Bobby and Phil’s duo tour and new musical escapades to come let us look back at some of the monumental musical moments for Deadheads 2017 treated us with.
1) Bobby and Phil perform the Terrapin Suite at Lockn
2017 marks the 40th of anniversary of the Grateful Dead’s legendary 1977 shows, as well as the release of the Dead’s 1977 Terrapin Station album. To celebrate Phil and Bobby, for the first time in Grateful Dead history, alongside the Terrapin Family Band performed the Terrapin Suite in its entirety at Lockn 2017. The Grateful Dead only performed the “Lady with a Fan” and “Terrapin Station” portions of Terrapin in their 30 year touring career. Bobby and Phil, filled with lust for musical adventure, took the music further and included Robert Hunter’s final addition to the Terrapin Suite, “Jack O Roses”, for the first time. In a 2003 journal Hunter touched upon the unperformed, “Jack O Roses” saying, “Jack O'Roses ... is a Garcia composition, one he never played. Not because he didn't like it, but he was never keen to add lyric parts to a song already recorded. I always felt "Terrapin" was recorded too soon, there was much more to do on it. But recording company pressures dictated that our contributions to the album be done by a certain date so that the producer could take it off to London and gussy it up with strings."
2. John Mayer joins Joe Russo at the Brooklyn Bowl
At the present time, Deadheads have a wide array of acts to pursue to chase their golden devotion to the Dead’s music. Alongside Dead and Company, and Dark Star Orchestra: Phil is continuing to recruit blooming musicians and friends to explore the music. Another act the Deadhead community has been more than acceptable to take in is Joe Russo’s Almost Dead. With balls to the wall experimental approach to the Dead’s music Joe Russo’s Almost Dead shows no reluctance to get strange. No strangers to experimentation, they have brought everything from Phish teases into their Dead experience as well as brand new tunes played in a Dead fashion, such as Bob Dylan’s “Shelter From The Storm”. There have been objectifiers to the Russo, however. In the community, there has been a mysterious gap between those who favor Dead and Company and those who favor Joe Russo’s Almost Dead. Albeit this mysterious gap, there are still Deadheads who enjoy both acts.. and it is safe to say each band’s respective members have a fondness for each other. Last year John Mayer joined an enthusiastic Joe Russo at the Brooklyn Bowl for some songs including a particularly hot, “Althea”. Did Mayer do this to bridge the gap of disagreement? Probably not. Did the music never stop? No, no, it never did!
3) Jerry Garcia 75th Birthday Jam
The Jerry Garcia 75th Birthday show was held at Red Rocks this year but this year all the stops were pulled out. The night was headlined by Mr. Garcia's best friend Bob Weir and his Campfire Band. If that wasn't enough; you know Bobby couldn't help but bring up his favorite student, John Mayer. Aside from the headliners, the show began with the Jerry Garcia acoustic band. Aside from Dead and Company’s 2017 acoustic “Dark Star” and the songs that followed the acoustic side of the Dead has all but been lost. It was great to hear the return of acoustic Dead reminiscent of “Reckoning”. And smack dab in the middle of this acoustic revival was the Jerry Garica Birthday Band. Further into the night, echoes of JBG rang through the rocks with Melvin Seals laying down the organ and Tom Hamilton leading the group. Oteil joined later in the night and sublimed right into his soul routes and gave life to some of the Dead music that is less commonly played. This night carried such magic because it was a pure jam night. It felt like all these great players had just met up at their favorite bar just to have fun and see what the could do. We need more of this.
4) Fall Tour
Fall Tour gets it spot on the list over summer tour for several reasons.. Firstly, its unexpectedness. One can almost wait with their hand's folded for a summer tour to be announced. With the success of the 2016 tour and the fun that beamed from the band, you couldn't see them not hitting the road for the summer, but a fall tour, that on came out our of left field. Which leads to my second reason is the music was more in tune. The summer tour, at least from my perspective started weakly. It picked up steam but still only presented a small glimpse of light to come. Fall tour they debuted close to a song a night and took some chances. Slapping "If I Had the World to Give" right in the middle or a China>Rider for example. I in part credit this to Mayer's schedule. Point being, fall tour was a treat.
5. The Dark Star continues to crash at jubilee..
The 2017 Dark Star Jubilee I believe, set a benchmark for what the music can do. We here at So Many Roads always go check out Dark Star, but for the first time, I actually listened back to these shows. A few times. Not that this band isn't playback worth but why listen to them when I can hear the real thing? Dark Star keeps the feeling of what it was alive as the Grateful Dead. Dead and Company is amazing but it is Dead and Company, not the Grateful Dead. Dark Star gets you there in the same way the old tapes do and that something that keeps me coming back to their shows. Jerry licks will live on long after we are gone.
6. The Late night show with Stephen Colbert
The Late Show with Stephen Colbert had Dead and Company on not once, but twice in the same week! This may be viewed as a "who cares" moment for many fans but this is important. In a world so weighed down by the bad, having a show that is so popular host this band of hippies for a double night run is healthy content. At this point, anything that spreads even the slightest good vibe should be front and center in media. Let's not forget Dead and Company started one late night on TV.
7. Dead and Company brings economic growth to America
Dead and Company had the 22nd highest grossing tour in 2017, with only 33 shows. A list that features everyone from U2 to Beyonce to Guns and Roses, Dead and Company's little fall and summer tour grossed them a whopping $51.8 million dollars. They also accomplished this with an average tickets price of $84.86 which is $14 less than the average price of the top 22 bands on the list.
With Mexico, and Summer Tour 2018, we have a lot to be grateful for heading into this year!