The last time I went to a Grateful Dead concert I was working for the Valley Advocate in downtown Amherst, and I walked down Amity Street to the UMass McGuirk stadium to see the concert. I am pretty certain that at that tender age of about 21, I had ingested some LSD and I also remember that I made my way all the way to the front just below the stage, and marveled at Jerry Garcia’s four-finger picking. It is a dizzy memory but I never saw the band again–until now.
I have been marveling at my friend John’s devotion to this band–he attended five shows this summer when the band reunited, first in San Mateo California and then three tremendous shows at Chicago’s Soldier Field. He’s just back from seeing this incarnation in New York City, minus Jerry and now, minus Phil Lesh, but with the addition of guitarist John Mayer. It’s now called “Dead and Company” and it’s as close as I’ll ever get again to that glorious time at UMass.
The music still infectious, and the main difference is mostly that the fans, like me, are bald, old and grey. But we still love their music, and it will be fun to be there in the thick of this legendary trio with great taste in who they pick to fill in for members who have passed on. Here is how the band themselves describe this tour: “Mickey Hart, Bill Kreutzmann, and Bob Weir of the Grateful Dead — in other words, the “core four” minus Phil Lesh — are going on tour with John Mayer. Oteil Burbridge and Dead associate Jeff Chimenti are also coming along for the ride, and the whole gang is calling themselves Dead & Company.”