November 30, 2009

Smith and Smith in the Old Wierd America

Getty Publications is announcing the release this coming January of "Harry Smith: The Avant Garde in the American Vernacular." Ethnomusicological archivist, filmmaker, painter, and alchemist Harry Smith's compilation "Anthology of American Folk Music" is considered the Rosetta Stone of American musical history. This new publication on Smith, his work, and his legacy, includes a collection of essays from authors such as Robert Cantwell and Griel Marcus, and contains "numerous illustrations of Smith's works and a selection of his letters and other primary sources." The book is edited by Andrew Perchuk and Rani Singh, both from the Getty Institute, where in 2001 the Institute sponsored the symposium of the same title. Singh is also director of the Harry Smith Archive in New York. (see

And it gets even better. In celebration of her friendship with Harry Smith and the publication of this book, singer and poet Patti Smith will be speaking and performing at the Hammer Museum in Los Angeles on January 28th.

Grateful Dead Caucus

The thirteenth meeting of the Grateful Dead Caucus at the Southwest/Texas Popular & American Culture Association conference is planned for February 10-13th, 2010 in Albuquerque's Hyatt Regency Hotel.

The call for papers has already gone out, but with the final submission deadline set for December 15th. Expect exciting papers and panels on all aspects -- comparative, interdisciplinary, and transdisciplinary -- of the Grateful Dead Phenomenon to be presented. For more information on this upcoming gathering and to register for the conference see:

November 16, 2009

PAS Hall of Fame

The Percussive Arts Society ( is the largest network of percussionists around the world. The Society publishes Percussive Notes, Percussion News, and the PAS Online Research Journal. Headquartered in Indianapolis, IN., the Society fosters growth in the art of drumming through workshops, concerts, and festivals. Its new museum "Rhythm! Discovery Center"will open this month on November 21st. Each year PAS inducts new members into its Hall of Fame. Induction is the highest honor given to individuals whose careers have had a significant impact on percussion performance, education and research. This month French percussionist Jacques Delecluse and Mickey Hart were celebrated as the newest PAS Hall of Fame inductees.

November 10, 2009

Who Shot Rock & Roll

Henry Diltz's 1985 close up shot of a laughing Tina Turner just lights up the Brooklyn Museum's new show Who Shot Rock & Roll: A Photographic History 1955 to the Present. Touting this as the first major exhibit on rock & roll "to put photographers in the foreground" the Museum also proclaims that these "images communicate the social and cultural transformations that rock fostered since the 1950s." The exhibition runs through January 31st, and there is an excellent companion catalog written by Gail Buckland and published by Knopf that illustrates over 200 photographs from the show.

Best junk ever

So you think we've found some odd items in the Grateful Dead Archive? Well, as marvelous as some of our realia is, we really cannot compete with the posters of Jackie O in the buff found in the archive of Andy Warhol. We were recently reading about what archivists in the Andy Warhol Museum have uncovered: shopping bags stuffed with well... stuff, thirty silver-white wigs, 4,000 audio recordings, and then there are the "Time Capsules" filled with the detritus of Andy's daily events and adventures. To find out more it's really fun to visit:

A Kleinrock/ Barlow connection

UCLA Professor Leonard Kleinrock is known as one of the "fathers" of the Internet. Now his original computer the "Interface Message Processor" along with other artifacts will be part of UCLA's Kleinrock Internet Museum and Reading Room. The museum commemorates the first computer message sent out 40 years ago in October 1969. To mark the event Kleinrock was interviewed by Patt Morrison of the Los Angeles Times.,0,3095224.story
Kleinrock talks about that first message, e-mail, and what the Internet has begotten. As regards privacy concerns in cyberspace, Kleinrock says he is relaxed about it because none is left. He takes the advice of John Perry Barlow ..."the only way to have privacy is to expose it all and then you have nothing to hide."

October 22, 2009

New York Historical Society party

Last night's benefit fundraiser for the upcoming exhibit of Grateful Dead Archive material at the New York Historical Society was a big success. Loads of people attended and lots of music happened. Read more and see some early photos of the event at:

October 19, 2009

Mouse full circle

Currently showing at the Marin Museum of Contemporary Art is: The Evolution of Stanley Mouse: Full Circle.
Mouse is of course, responsible for many of the most iconic imagery affiliated with the Grateful Dead and his album covers and posters for other bands such as the Beatles are legendary. To see more of his fine art, rock art, and monster art go to his web site at make sure to see his exhibit at MarinMOCA; it's up through November 1st and is free to the public.

Live from New York it's ....

The intersection of Fifth Ave and West 34th Street in New York City has never looked so good. Check out this tie-dye on one of the seven wonders of the modern world:

October 18, 2009

Tie Dye Sky

Tie dye will soar more than a quarter mile into the atmosphere above the heart of Manhattan as New York celebrates the Grateful Dead. The Empire State Building is being colorfully lit in honor of band member's appearances this coming week in the Big Apple. Bob Weir & RatDog will be at the Grand Ballroom on the 19th and 20th and at the Beacon Theatre from the 22nd to the 24th.
Both Bob Weir and Phil Lesh are making guest appearances at the New York Historical Society's benefit for the exhibition: The Grateful Dead: Now Playing at the New York Historical Society. This exhibit will premier material from UCSC's Grateful Dead Archive in Spring 2010. See more about this exhibition in the "News" section of our web page:

Most popular music in the land

It seems like there are an awful lot of "forty year old" events to commemorate this year -- events that reflected social conflict and contention and often put a spotlight on the difference between generations. Forty years ago Apollo 11 landed on the moon and the Stonewall riots took place in New York; there was Woodstock and then Altamont; the My Lai massacre and the march on Washington against the Vietnam War. The last public performance of the Beatles took place on the roof of Apple Records in 1969, and John & Yoko got married that year and the bed-ins for peace happened.
Now in 2009 Paul Taylor and Richard Morin at the Pew Research Center in a Social & Demographic Trends Report have released the results of a study, which documents that there are still big differences between younger and older adults in their values, use of technology, work ethic, and respect and tolerance for others. (79% of Americans say there is a major difference in the point of view of younger and older adults.) There is, however, one area where the generation gap does not seem to be apparent: music. And surprise, two thirds of respondents to the Pew survey say they most often listen to rock music, placing it ahead of six other genres. For every age group below 65 rock is at the top of the charts. Taylor and Morin compare these results to a 1966 national survey where rock and roll was by far the most unpopular music in the county, and 44% of adults said they disliked it.
The entire report is released at the Pew Research Center's site, and it is quite revealing to see which performers sustain popularity. (The Grateful Dead really hold their own.) See:

October 7, 2009

Toni Brown

Relix: The Book - Music for the Mind has just been released in paperback from Backbeat. Compiled by Toni Brown with Lee Abraham, it's a compilation and commentary on the first 27 years of Relix Magazine. It's got a foreword by Jorma Kaukonen and an afterword by Dennis McNally. The publisher is saying the book is "much more than an anthology, it is an event." Find more about it at

Relix founder Toni Brown gives a great interview on She talks about the history of the magazine, interviewing band members, and coming to write the Relix story.

Grateful Dead Scrapbook

Ben Fong-Torres speaks tonight at 7:30 pm about the Grateful Dead Scrapbook at one of our favorite places:
Booksmith (
1644 Haight St.
San Francisco

Here's the info:
Grateful Dead fans are legendary for their Dead-ication to the band and its enduring legacy of freewheeling musical exploration. Grateful Dead Scrapbook collects rare removable memorabilia and evocative images culled from the Grateful Dead Archives at the University of California, Santa Cruz, including never-before-published photos, flyers, fan letters, and other ephemera. To accompany the eye-popping visuals, renowned journalist Ben Fong-Torres draws on his personal knowledge of the San Francisco music scene in a rich text that conveys the Grateful Dead's story in a fresh way, centering each chapter on a pivotal song that encapsulates a certain era of the group's songwriting, performance, and community. An attractive slipcase and an audio CD round out the book's beautiful design, delivering a richly illustrated volume as colorful as the band itself.

Ben Fong-Torres is the author of Becoming Almost Famous: My Back Pages in Music, Writing, and Life, The Doors, Not Fade Away: A Backstage Pass to Twenty Years of Rock and Roll, and Hickory Wind: The Life and Times of Graham Parsons, among other books. He began writing for Rolling Stone with its 8th issue in 1968, and his writing has been published in numerous other magazines. He contributed the main biography of Jerry Garcia for People Magazine's tribute issue on the occasion of the singer's death in 1995. Ben lives in San Francisco.

October 6, 2009

So Grateful

Culture wars? Yes, they are still going on. Just examine the criticism being directed at our receipt of a federal grant given to support the Grateful Dead Archive. It's not surprising that those at FutureOfCapitalism and Club for Growth can't understand the value of anything beyond "their canon." But editors blogging in the Chronicle of Higher Education? Come on.

Past, present and future, the Grateful Dead continues to be a dynamic presence and a lightning rod for significant shifts in culture. We're excited by (and so grateful for) opportunities the IMLS grant gives us to create and blaze the trail for popular archives that provide virtual accessibility and incorporate the power of the Internet and social networking tools.

And don't forget, the 2008 winner of the Nobel Prize for Economics said: "It won’t all happen immediately. But in the long run, we are all the Grateful Dead."

September 14, 2009

Stuff of Life

Every archivist has a bit of the archeologist in her. As we delve through the Grateful Dead Archive coming across important artifacts so apparently are California State Archeologists at the Olompali State Historical Park. Located north of San Francisco the park was originally settled by the Miwok Indians, but in the mid to late 60s it was the site of a hippie commune. And it was home to the Grateful Dead in 1966. The stuff that is being excavated and cataloged by archeologists in the historic park includes sneakers and red plastic Monopoly hotel pieces (and what about macramé and roach clips and beads???) The July-August issue (Vol. 62, No.4) of Archaeology Magazine is running the article "Digging in the Age of Aquarius" about the site. It quotes state archaeologist E. Breck Parkman saying that these artifacts will enable the interpretation of "a period of political turbulence, generational conflicts, and cultural experimentation that shaped modern America."

September 10, 2009

Channeling the Dead

Two great Dead tribute bands can be seen and heard locally. Coming on Saturday Sept. 12 are The China Cats playing at Don Quixote's International Music Hall in Felton. And the Dark Star Orchestra will be at Santa Cruz's Rio Theatre on Thursday October 8th. For more info see: and

Game Play

Gameing is big business, and the aesthetics and theory of games is now firmly footed in academia. At UCSC a class "Video Games As Visual Culture" is being offered and a student can major in Computer Game Design. Two new board games are appealing to us bookish types here in the Library's Grateful Dead Archive. Coming soon will be GRATEFUL DEAD-OLOPY, a creation from Discovery Bay Games, the Washington State company that produced "Garage Band: The Game." According to Craig Olson, Discovery Bay Games' CEO, Bob Weir has been directly involved with developing the game's content. Beyond DEAD-OLOPY there is also "Liebrary" a bluff game surrounding the opening lines in books. ..."A screaming comes across the sky."

August 21, 2009


We know that the Grateful Dead circle encompasses a great variety of close attachments and fond acquaintances (think Al and Tipper Gore, Bill Walton and Phil Jackson, Patrick Leahy and Nancy Pelosi.) But somehow one of the sweetest friendships seems to have been between Mickey Hart and Walter Cronkite. Since Cronkite's death several very intimate stories have been told about their 22 years of being "dear, dear friends." Mickey tells the story in Leah Garchik's San Francisco Chronicle column of July 31 about Walter playing drums at his place. "And I invited him to see the Grateful Dead, and we kind of fell in love around all those exciting things. It was such a trust; he was such a treasure." Cronkite apparently "loved marching bands, Sousa and Dixieland, and he loved the Grateful Dead."

Beautiful and strange

Sometimes one learns about life from memorial tributes. In reading Joseph O'Connor's recounting of the life and kindness of Pultizer Prize winner Frank McCourt in the Irish Sunday Independent of July 26th, the following is revealed. McCourt, a fabulous and generous storyteller, had at one stage of his life followed the Grateful Dead mixing with the "hippies and beatniks" whom he found "beautiful and strange." He thought he had the makings of a novel.

August 6, 2009

Orchestral Tribute

"At the point where popular culture and classical art converge, the songs of the Grateful Dead make an excellent place to explore," says Lee Johnson. Johnson is a professor of Music at LeGrange College in Georgia and composer-in-residence at this season's Cabrillo Festival of Contemporary Music. His Dead Symphony No.6 is to be performed this Sunday. Johnson in an interview with Stacey Vreeken discusses the band's mystique, the Dead Community, and the influence the Grateful Dead's music has had upon his own work. The interview "Dead On" appears in the Santa Cruz Sentinel's August 6th issue.

The Los Angeles Times also carries an article this week on the Festival's orchestral tribute to the Grateful Dead. Written by Chloe Veltman, "Paying tribute to the Grateful Dead in symphony" can be found at:,0,4366990.story

August 1, 2009

Farewell Friend of the Devil

Friend to the Grateful Dead, John Dawson died on July 21st in Mexico. Some very good words are said about him on the New Riders site:

Happy Birthday Jerry!

This whole week the city of Santa Cruz celebrates the music of the Grateful Dead, and pays tribute to Jerry. Weekend Santa Cruz is running a story "The Dead Keep Truckin in Santa Cruz" which highlights all the activities. Catch it online at:
And for further info see Dead Centric Events at

Keep Santa Cruz Weird and Lively

Maestra Marin Alsop was featured this morning on NPR in an interview with Scott Simon discussing this season's Cabrillo Festival of Contemporary Music. Events starts today in Santa Cruz, a place Ms. Alsop fondly calls quaint and quirky. Lee Johnson's Dead Symphony No. 6 gets a grand send off on August 9th as part of the festivities. For a short history of the festival read Marin Alsop's article at the NPR site:

July 16, 2009

40 Years after Max Yasgur's Dairy Farm

In celebration of the 40th anniversary of the Woodstock festival an abundance of events and a flood of products are expected. First there is the expanded and remastered Michael Wadleigh documentary Woodstock: 3 days of Peace and Music, now out on Blu-ray, which includes an interview with Martin Scorsese. Rhino is releasing a six-CD box set, Woodstock 40 Years On: Back to Yasgur's Farm, with previously unreleased recordings. On August 14th the History channel is premiering a rockumentary, Woodstock: Now & Then, and there is even an upcoming comedy film from Ang Lee Taking Woodstock. Beyond the media, several books are also expected. Festival producer Michael Lang has two books out. One's a memoir, The Road to Woodstock (Ecco, 2009), and the other is a deluxe limited edition put out by Genesis Publications entitled the Woodstock Experience. Mike Evans and Paul Kingsbury's Woodstock: Three Days That Rocked the World (Sterling, 2009) also tells the tale of what went on from August 15-18th, 1969. Some of it is summarized as "three days of mud and electric shocks." Mickey is quoted as saying "It was the worst we ever played" and Bobby just remembers the "great blue spark about the size of a baseball" that lifted him off his feet. Even amidst all the myth making the zeitgeist can be cruel.

Dead Like

The hard look at the recording industry that one sees in Steve Knopper's Appetite for Self Destruction: The Spectacular Crash of the Record Industry in the Digital Age, published earlier this year by Free Press, continues with Greg Kot's Ripped: How the Wired Generation Revolutionized Music (Scribner, 2009). Readers will find commentary on the major labels but also predictions on the future activities of bands and the use of music to sell concert tickets rather than recordings. Kot quotes Wilco's Jeff Tweedy: "In some weird way everything will be like the Grateful Dead."

Masters of Percussion

Tabla maestro Zakir Hussain, who has collaborated many times with Mickey Hart, has given a very personal interview to Arminta Wallace published in the Irish Times (see
He talks about the global musical journey that he has taken from Mumbai to California. It's a journey that continues through performances with the Masters of Percussion, bringing Indian percussion to a wider world. He says, "worthwhile musical collaboration is always marked by this exchange of energy."

Home Before Daylight

We're still breathlessly awaiting the acting credits to appear for the upcoming film Home Before Daylight: My Life on the Road With the Grateful Dead. Adapted from Steve Parish's 2003 biography, the film's announced production team should prove stellar with Parish and Michael Grais as producers, direction by Allan Arkush, and music coordination by Bob Weir. Grais, who is also writing the screenplay, previously produced the Jerry Lee Lewis music bio Great Balls of Fire. Parish's book co-written with journalist Joe Layden (St. Martin's Press, 2003) got terrific reviews for its intimate first person narrative about music and friendship.

June 26, 2009

David Nelson Band

Moe's Alley here in Santa Cruz again hosts a great band. The David Nelson Band plays tonight at 9:00 pm. Go to for more details. Nelson (who we all know from his musical collaborations with Jerry and New Riders of the Purple Sage), will be joined by Barry Sless, Mookie Siegel, Pete Sears and John Molo.

June 3, 2009

American Artifact

Filmmaker and TV producer Merle Becker will release her new documentary American Artifact: The Rise of American Rock Poster Art this month. Chronicling the history and the rise of the art form, this film includes interviews with artists including, Mouse, Victor Moscoso, Tara McPherson, Frank Kozik, and with other collectors and musicians. Becker, the founder of the independent film company Freakfilms, Inc. will premiere her new work in California, but it's being shown all over the country and will come out on DVD in August. For more info see:

Rock Art

Loads of exhibits this summer are documenting the extraordinary influence of the American rock poster. Here's info on some of them:
The Denver Art Museum hosts an exhibit "Psychedelic Experience: Rock Posters from the San Francisco Bay Area, 1966-71" with 300 posters by artists who were inspired "by the sensory overload of the dance hall environment."

The annual Rock Art By the Bay event, sponsored by the Rock Poster Society, happens this year on Saturday June 20th at Fort Mason in San Francisco. A large line up of artists is scheduled to appear including Stanley Mouse. They'll be signing, discussing, and selling their work. See

Rock the Streets. The Rise of American Rock Poster Art: Ron Donovan and Chuck Sperry of The Firehouse Kustom Rockart Company will be exhibited through August 4th at Ogilvy (111 Sutter St. in San Francisco.)

May 31, 2009

Fillmore again

Earlier (see our blog entry of Sept. 24th,2008), we noted that the documentary Fillmore: The Last Days was soon to come out on DVD. Rhino has just released it and it has immediately gotten a nice write up by Mike Hale in the NY Times, see "Bill Graham, Unleashed" May 29th.

May 30, 2009

That Music Instinct

Daniel Levitin, professor of psychology and behavioral neuroscience and music at McGill University is hosting a new two hour documentary on the science of music: The Music Instinct: Science and Song. It airs on PBS on June 24th and investigates music's "fundamental physical structure, its biological, emotional, and psychological impact, its brain altering and healing powers, and its role in human evolution."
Levitin is the author of The World in Six Songs (Dutton 2008) and This Is Your Brain On Music (Dutton Penguin 2006). According to Levitin "evolution may have selected individuals who were able to use nonviolent means like dance and music to settle disputes, and songs also serve as memory aides and as records of our lives and legends."
Before hitting academia Levitin worked as a session musician, a commercial recording engineer, a live sound engineer, and a record producer for, among many bands, the Grateful Dead.

Attics of My Life

As archivists we are always so indebted to those folk out there who have the instinct and the eye to save ephemeral items of seemingly little value, and later to gift what has become an important "collection" to libraries, historical societies, and museums. Currently on display in Berkeley's Veterans Memorial building is a Berkeley Historical Society exhibit Up Against the Wall-- a visual array of posters from such a collection. The late Michael Rossman, a Bay area political activist collected approximately 25,000 posters documenting concerts, rallies, political campaigns, and other social causes and movements from 1965 to 1974. His friend Lincoln Cushing, a librarian, arranged for 39 of these to be seen in this exhibit, including a 1966 handbill from a May 14th Veterans Memorial Hall dance with the Grateful Dead. The exhibit runs through September 26th.

Not Fade Away

Now that The Dead tour is over, all the reviews have come in and it looks like everyone, including the band had a good old time. One aspect that critics seem astonished by is the youth of the attendees. (Although this doesn't seem surprising to us given that a Spring Quarter class "Music of the Grateful Dead" taught here at UCSC has enrollment of over 400!) We did enjoy the May 11th review by August Brown and Jeff Weiss in the LA Times. They reviewed the Los Angeles Forum show and quoted 13 year old Emma Cleveland from Ridgecrest CA. whose entire family had driven over 150 miles to attend the concert; "The Dead's music keeps people feeling alive and happy. It's amazing music; every time you hear it, it puts you in a good mood."

May 11, 2009

Substrate: Poems

Another greatly admired poet and Deadhead is Jim Powell. His long awaited new collection of poems Substrate: Poems is now offered from Pantheon Books. Powell is the author of many books on lyric poetry and translation from Classical Greek and Latin, and he was a MacArthur Fellow in 1993 for poetry.

True Legacy

One other note about Peter Conners. In response to Ben Ratcliff's article on the Dead in the April 12th issue of the NY Times, Conners has written a reply that made the Times Letter section on 4/26. He notes "The article should also be a reminder to Deadheads that fetishizing artifact over experience threatens the values of spontaneity and creative possibility that super charged every Dead show. Let's use the live recordings as a way to perpetuate the celebratory rituals of music, dance and unity that are the Dead's (and Deadheads') true legacy."

Growing Up Dead

Poet Peter Conners who claims he was born in a small town called America, has just published his memoir with Da Capo Press: Growing Up Dead: The Hallucinated Confessions of a Teenage Deadhead, which chronicles ten years of his life from a suburban Rochester teenager through 1995 as a serious Deadhead. Conners is known for his prose poetry collection Of Whiskey and Winter (White Pines Press, 2007), his well regarded novella Emily Ate the Wind (Marick Press, 2008), and as being founding co-editor of Double Room: A Journal of Prose Poetry and Flash Fiction. His new book is being touted as part memoir, part social history, and for (as noted in Publishers Weekly) "offering a perspective often missing from other Dead chronicles."

Conners is currently on tour himself giving readings from the book and doing interviews. In June he is scheduled for several events: on the 3rd David Gans will interview him for "The Grateful Dead Hour" (, and this conversation will be continued from the 10th to the 24th on "The Well" (; Conners will also be at Books Inc. on June 4th (601 Van Ness in San Francisco.)

May 5, 2009

Deadheads and Licklider

Another older book still being reviewed is Patrice Flichy's The Internet Imaginaire. (MIT Press, 2007), an introduction to the history of the Internet. Book reviewer Paul E. Ceruzzi admits to being a Deadhead and a heavy user of the concerts available via the Internet Archive. He therefore holds particular interest in Flichy’s chapter 3 which "discusses communities of people who had been excluded from traditional access to computers, among them the fans of the Grateful Dead rock band who traded information on the San Francisco Bay area network, the Well” and to imagining if Deadheads were as important to the creation of the Internet as the visionary computer scientist J.C. R. Licklider. Ceruzzi's review can be found in the March 2009 issue of ISIS, published by the History of Science Society.

Deep Time

Wai Chee Dimock's book Through Other Continents: American Literature Across Deep Time received lots of praise and some criticism when it came out in 2006 from Princeton University Press. It's still being reviewed and it continues to be controversial. A recent review by Paul Giles can be found in the Dec. 2008, Vol. 69, No.4 issue of Modern Language Quarterly. As Ms. Dimock's publisher notes, she reads "American literature as a subset of world literature. Inspired by an unorthodox archive--ranging from epic traditions in Akkadian and Sanskrit to folk art, paintings by Veronese and Tiepolo, and the music of the Grateful Dead-- Dimock constructs a long history of the world, a history she calls "deep time." Giles says the book "is testimony to the often brilliant critical practice that functions through cross-referencing and juxtaposition, illuminating distant and proximate, high culture and low culture, in the light of each other. " No wonder Blues for Allah is an inspiration for Dimock.

April 30, 2009

Dead reckoning

Close on the heels of the NY Times ranking of favorite Dead shows, now John Swansburg has posted on Slate (4/29/09) his very own humorously sardonic guide to Deadheadedness. Find yourself in Dead Reckoning: What Your Favorite Grateful Dead Song Says About You (
Hmmm... my favorite song? Not telling.

April 29, 2009

CA. Capital rocks

The same building that once housed the Oasis Ballroom is soon to become a popular new destination for music fans. The Sacramento Rock and Radio Museum with help from the Tucker Media Group will open in June celebrating 40 years of rock music, rock radio, and rock art. The space will be filled with posters, handbills, and memorabilia of performers like B.B. King, Jimi Hendrix, the Ramones, the Rolling Stones, and Nirvana who played local venues. On display will be the poster for the March 11th, 1968 Grateful Dead and Cream show at the Sacramento Memorial Auditorium.

Destiny's children

The visit on April 13th of members of The Dead with President Obama in the White House got lots of great press coverage. The Washington Post, NBC, and other media groups mentioned the many prominent Deadheads amongst the President's senior advisors, who btw all attended the Verizon Center's show in Washington the following night. Special note was made of the Oval Office's decor that included a bouquet of scarlet begonias. Mickey Hart-- as reported in Leah Garchik's SF Chronicle column-- said, "Obama is the reason we were together. We got together over the benefits we put on for him. So in a way, he's become part of our destiny now."

April 20, 2009

Robert Hunter and Bob Dylan together through life

The press is aflame regarding Bob Dylan's soon to be released new album Together Through Life. In a recent five-part interview with music critic Bill Flanagan Dylan talks about song writing, songwriters, and reveals that (nine) of the songs on the album were co-written with Robert Hunter. What more perfect confluence of poetical writing on love and pain could there be? All parts of the interview are now all available on the official Dylan site

The Dead Live On and On

Ben Ratliff in an amazing three page color, illustrated article appearing in the April 12th Sunday issue of the NY Times entitled "Bring Out Your Dead" discusses the five different levels of how fans talk about the Grateful Dead. There are those who discuss the band's commercially released albums, those that get into the period or eras, and those that focus on the band's best night, or on particular songs from particular performances. Ratliff then gets to "thinner air" where he says discussion goes to audience vs. soundboard tapes, the mixing bias of engineers, and onward into what he calls "the darkness of obsession." But truly mesmerizing are the online comments from fans that, in response to the article, have voted for their greatest shows and submitted their photos. It's an extraordinary outpouring; find it at "The Dead Live On."

On the bus

Periodically the San Francisco Chronicle re-runs some of Herb Caen's old columns. A really good one appeared in the April 2nd, 2009 issue. (Catch it at Originally from February 5, 1967, Caen retells lounging at the corner of Fifth and Mish when Further pulls up and Ken Kesey flashing his American flagged front tooth, invites him to climb aboard. (BTW rumor has it that Santa Cruz dentist Dr. Richard J. Smith dentally did the tooth decoration.)

Cabrillo Music Festival: Sugar Magnolia

This season's Cabrillo Music Festival of Contemporary Music -- American's preeminent contemporary music festival, which makes its home right here in Santa Cruz, CA.-- opens with the theme of One World. And one extraordinary highlight will be a special benefit concert "Sugar Magnolia: An Orchestral Tribute to the Grateful Dead" featuring Lee Johnson's Dead Symphony No.6. The concert along with a post concert Q & A with the composer and authors Dennis McNally and David Gans, is on the special day of August 9th. The festival is conducted and directed by Maestra Marin Alsop and runs from August 2nd to the 16th. UCSC will be offering Grateful Dead Archive events during the same week so stay tuned for more information.

The Dead Endures

For anyone who likes statistics (and we know Deadheads do!!) the article "A Grateful Dead Analysis: The Relationship Between Concert and Listening Behavior" will be like numerical manna. Written by Marko A. Rodriquez, Vadas Gintautas and Alberto Pepe, the article appears in First Monday: the Peer Reviewed Journal of the Internet Vol. 14, No. 1 January 5, 2009. It presents an analysis of the Grateful Dead's concert behavior and exposes a relationship between the concert song patterns from 1972 to 1995 and the listening statistics of the band's songs from August 2005 to October 2007. It's a scientific inquiry with technical evidence that will have enduring appeal for nerdheads.

March 24, 2009

Ancient Practice, Modern Sound

Mickey's long involvement with the Gyuto Monks was featured this morning (March 24th) as part of a story on NRP's Morning Edition. Mickey, as producer has used modern techniques to recreate the oldest chants of the monks. For the full story Gyuto Monks: Ancient Practice, Modern Sound go to:

Ebook of the Dead

Touch of Grey, the newest creation by Jay Blakesberg featuring more than 400 of his photographs has just been released by Mosaic Legends as an interactive e-book. Find it on the App section of the iTunes store. It also includes an introduction by Blakesberg and an essay by editor Aaron Kayce. For more about the visual mosaic production see:

Free for the taking or giving

Some of you might remember the Free Frame of Reference, the Free Bakery, and the Trip Without a Ticket, the free stores set up by the Diggers during the challenging times of the late 1960s. There in the Haight-Ashbury neighborhoods of San Francisco free exchange of material goods would be made, meals shared, and often the Grateful Dead provided free entertainment. Well, in these new economic hard times free stores are starting up again. Some are close by Wall Street. (Maybe some one might even stage a revival of the happening "Death of Money Parade"???)
The March 16th issue of the London Guardian carries an article on Manhattan's Free Store. The two artists who launched it say, "It's a certain time in history in this country when people really need to help each other out."

Candid Counter Culture Comedy

Everyone loves the Dead even Tom Davis, writing and performing partner of (soon to be Senator?) Al Franken. In Davis' new memoir Thirty-Nine Years of Short-Term Memory Loss: The Early Days of SNL From Someone Who Was There (Grove Press, 2009) he talks about coming of age in the 60s, the Grateful Dead, sex, early SNL, drugs, and of course comedy.

February 20, 2009

Mills Music Gala 2009

Tomorrow --February 21st-- with a gala concert, Mills College (our good friends just over the hill in Oakland) celebrates the reopening of its historic concert hall and 80 years of impressive music. Mills is where Phil Lesh and Steve Reich were students, and this is the hall where John Cage and Lou Harrison performed. (btw, UCSC holds Lou Harrison's archive.)
We wish our colleagues a wonderful MILLS MUSIC FESTIVAL 2009. For info on opening night:

February 8, 2009

Congratulations Mickey!

Great news, it's just been announced tonight.... Mickey Hart, Zakir Hussain, Sikiru Adepoju, and Giovanni Hidalgo of the Global Drum Project are the winners of the Grammy for Best Contemporary World Music Album. Congratulations!!

Trippy tatts

In a fun article in the Feb. 6-8 USA Weekend Magazine, Luke Walton's upper right arm is shown proudly displaying four dancing skeletons. Walton, of the LA Lakers, gets the "G for Grateful Dead" in the NBA Tattoos, from A to Z article. All four skeletons balance basketballs and represent Luke and his three brothers-- it's a multi-generational family thing.

American Beauty Project

Lincoln Center's American Songbook Series recently featured an evening devoted to the lyrics and music of the Grateful Dead. The American Beauty Project, an ensemble of nine musicians, performed pieces with introductions made by Larry Campbell. (Campbell these days often plays with Phil Lesh. To read Blair Jackson's interview with Larry Campbell go to The evening at Lincoln Center gets a good write up by Stephen Holden in the January 19th issue of the New York Times.

February 1, 2009

SWTXPCA 2009 Conference: Dead Lessons

The 30th annual meeting of the Southwest Texas Popular Culture and American Culture Association is being held this month (Feb. 25-28th) in Albuquerque. Focus sessions on the Grateful Dead have been prominent in previous conferences and this year fourteen are being offered. Speakers are coming from all over the U.S. and include deeply involved scholars such as Nicholas Meriwether, Rebecca Adams and David Gans. This year in a special session devoted to "Dead Lessons: The Grateful Dead Organizational Model" Michael Grabsheid of U.Mass, Amherst and Sandy Sohcot of the Rex Foundation will present, as will UCSC's University Librarian Ginny Steel. Ginny's talk will delve into UCSC's Grateful Dead Archive and is appropriately entitled: "By the Waterside I Will Rest My Bones." For more on the Association, the conference, and to get a complete program go to

January 9, 2009

Peter Rowan

The Peter Rowan Bluegrass Band plays locally at Don Quixote's in Felton this Saturday (Jan.16th.) See for details. Rowan with band mates just played last month's Rex Foundation 25th Anniversary bash, and in the 70s was part of Old & In the Way with David Grisman, Jerry, Vassar Clements, etc.

January 1, 2009

Bill Kreutzmann in Santa Cruz

Bill Kreutzmann, with Oteil Burbridge and Scott Muawski will play Moe’s Alley here in Santa Cruz (1536 Commercial Way) on Thursday February 12, 2009. Tickets are on sale now:

Two books revisit late 1960s culture

Popular culture readers will find two new books just out as darkly fascinating. Both weave rock with political and social history, both specifically make reference to the Grateful Dead.
Peter Doggett’s There’s a Riot Going On: Revolutionaries, Rock Stars, and the Rise and Fall of the ‘60s (Canongate, 2008) looks at the period of 1965-72 when music “fueled the revolutionary movement with anthems and iconic imagery,” and the stars were asked to respond to, endorse and defend (sometimes reluctantly or defiantly) political action. Steve Morse in a Boston Globe review of Nov. 7, 2008 finds this book “brilliant,” “ambitious,” and “wrenching”.
Journalist Mikal Gilmore (whose pieces frequent Rolling Stone) has just published Stories Done: Writings on the 1960s and Its Discontents (Free Press, 2008), a collection of essays examining the lives of several of the era’s cultural figures. Often visionary, these figures may be publically engaging though personally tragic. As noted in a NY Times review of Dec. 30th, Gilmore has a “keen sense of the dark undertow of the American dream.”

Jamband psychology

Research on jamband subculture and psychology continues to be a topic of interest and the Grateful Dead of course, continues to be cited. Pamela M. Hunt has just authored an article, “From Festies to Tourrats…,” on this topic. It appears in the December 2008 issue of Social Psychology Quarterly (Vol. 71, No.4). Additionally, in his new book Tribes: We Need You To Lead Us (Portfolio, 2008) Seth Godin credits the Grateful Dead as helping us to understand how people become connected to one another, how shared passion is inspired, and how groups can effect lasting and substantive change.