by Russell S. Glowatz
This is a message for all those post-Jerry deadheads out there that came of age after 1995, and on occasion feel like they’re perpetually longing for something that occurred before their time. I was inspired to write this after seeing a young deadhead post a “woe is me for not seeing Jerry” YouTube comment under the video of Grateful Dead performing “So Many Roads” at their last concert on July 9th, 1995. That soulful performance represented an increasingly rare, yet strong showing by Garcia in those later years, and I can not deny sometimes feeling a sense of yearning when scrolling through those now old videos. Yet even as post-Jerry heads, we have A LOT to be grateful for.
As post-Jerry Deadheads we’ve had plenty to be thankful for in the recent past, and plenty to be appreciative for in the future. We’re alive. Bob Weir, Phil Lesh, Bill Kreutzmann and Mickey Hart are still kicking and avidly making music for the masses. We are still basking in a stellar five show run featuring arguably the closest replications of bona fide Grateful Dead shows that we will get to see in our lifetimes. Whether in Chi-town, across the greater USA, or just about anywhere on Earth (sans North Korea), we’ve had the opportunity to take in these shows, LIVE! Pay-per-view, IMAX simulcasts, SiriusXM, cable TV, bootleg video streams, taper audio streams, #taperrob, with up to the minute live social networking. None of us have had much an excuse not to celebrate one way or another this past week regardless of our geographic locale. Technology, man. It’s a trip.
“And the band keeps playing’ on!” Weir, Hart, and Kreutzmann are heavily rumored to be going out on tour together this very fall. Phil Lesh has a residency planned starting in October at Peter Shapiro’s Capitol Theater in Port Chester, NY. Phil is playing Lockn’ this summer, Bobby and Billy are playing The Peach. Mickey, Bill, Phil, and Bobby have various on and off again side projects of their own. They all play Dead music! They all reinvent this music time and time again. Have you heard Mickey Hart Band? Talk about reinvention! And while Phil plays residencies in New York, he also plays them out west at his very own Terrapin Crossroads. Bobby founded TRI Studios, a state of the art live streaming concert facility. He’s part owner of the Sweetwater Music Hall in Mill Valley. Ratdog. Ratdog. Ratdog. We will be seeing lots of Bobby. But yeah, these guys are old, and it’s not the same, and they won’t exactly be around forever, but they’re around now, and its pretty effing good! Take it in.So yeah, one day they’ll all be gone. But guess who will be here? Us post-Jerry deadheads. And Dark Star Orchestra. Joe Russo’s Almost Dead. Umpteen Grateful Dead cover bands. Some of the national variety, some of the local home-brewed camp. Some will entirely reinvent the music, while some will aim for total replication, and those that do will create scenarios where if you close your eyes you’ll feel like you’re at a genuine authentic Dead show. There’ll be lots of gatherings, albeit smaller than the old days, but they’ll be unforgettable and nostalgic.
There will be bigger shakedowns for younger bands like Phish, Widespread Panic, and The String Cheese Incident, and a plethora of face melting jam bands. And if a handful of older jaded deadheads give you crap about liking Phish, go tell ’em to eff themselves (Let Trey Sing). And then think to yourself that when “the band’s all packed and gone,” we’ll still be here dancing and shaking our bones to so much amazing music. And there will be younger deadheads; a new generation. This is gonna happen, because truly the music never does stop.
And those who, from time to time, make you feel that you missed out by not seeing Jerry…those folks?!? They’ll be dead. And the new generation of deadheads will look to us and ask us “what was it like to see the core four play live and together?” “How good were all their solo projects?” “Where were you for Fare Thee Well?” “Did they really manufacture a rainbow?!?” Some of our generation may make them feel bad because really, assholes exist in every subculture, mainstream and otherwise. So the assholes will be assholes, but you my friend don’t have to be one. Remember how you feel now, and down the road remind the youngins of all the great music that is around for them. Regale them with your stories, but don’t belittle them. For you once were them.
In this never-ending story that is the Grateful Dead, we are the lucky ones. Yes, it would’ve been nice to have been born a few decades earlier (could have dodged this climate change business to boot), but we are pretty damn fortunate. We will be the last to hear the Grateful Dead canon first hand. We will be the last to hear the songwriters and musicians play these songs in the flesh. We will be torch carriers, as was the band and the generation before us, to us. We will take the gospel of the Grateful Dead into the first fully post-Dead generation. It will be passed down. “So it shall be written. So it shall be done.” The Deadhead Community will survive. “We will survive.”
“Some rise, some fall, some climb,” and there will always be deadheads.
© Watts Glow Grateful Productions, 2015.