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Witness Post: Grateful Dead

“Can you swear with a moral certainty that Jerry Garcia is dead?” Having another ‘Elvis Sighting’ moment, it was time to put the long strange trip rumor to its rightful demise. I tell Tracy, “Although I didn’t see his body at the end, Jerry is unequivocally dead.” He is in the great beyond and his music lives on through Dead & Company.

The Dead & Company Summer Tour 2018 was a concert tour by the rock band, Dead & Company. The tour became the band’s fifth tour featuring John Mayer and other guest performers and was held during May, June and July of 2018. The tour comprised a total of 24 concerts in 19 different cities during the summer of 2018. They will wrap up the summer tour with a two-night stop at the Lockn’ Festival in Arrington, Virginia.

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The band Dead & Company includes three former members of the original Grateful Dead (Bob Weir, Bill Kreutzmann and Mickey Hart), along with musicians John Mayer, Jeff Chimenti and Oteil Burbridge.

First watching the Grateful Dead playing at the Fillmore Theatre in San Francisco in the late 1970’s (as the fan-poster on the balcony claimed “1,200 days since the last playing of Dark Star”), I have attended five other Dead concerts. The most memorable was their clear day performance playing with The Who at the Oakland Coliseum. The infield seating was great and we all had a ton of fun listening to the bands individually and then together.

The Coliseum was a fantastic musical experience that resonates melodically in my memory bank. Keith Moon, the Who drummer, tried to jump over his drum kit to sing the solo of “Johnny Be Good,” except he tripped on his leap, smashed into his drums and stumbled to the mic, only to completely forgot the words. That’s what too much of a good time can do for you. I thank Alex Armstrong for making arrangements and buying his friends tickets for that one. It was a fun concert-going day.

One of the lingering questions is whether Dead & Company will successfully transition from it’s roots as The Grateful Dead songs played by die-hards, to another life with guest artists carrying the band and its extended jam session riffs on to the next generation. “I believe that Dead & Company is the launch of the new brand that will extend the magic of the Dead as one of the most important musical groups over the last 40 years,” says Tom Bagli, a longtime music lover, critic and concert goer. “They have some amazing staying power because of the musicality and incredible public following of Dead Heads.” Bagli goes on to compare their influence to the Beatles and even Shakespeare, though those comparisons are a massive stretch in my musical and literary libraries.


Three Hooper Women with Dead and Rock & Roll Enthusiasts in the Highland of Denver

With restaurants and bars named after your songs,  like Fire on the Mountain, and the immortal image of Jerry Garcia (Yes, he is dead!) as the center of Colorado murals, there may be nowhere to go but up; up the Flatirons and into the sky.

We raise a glass to the perpetuation of the Dead & Company as the continuation of a great musical movement, and toast that it may have a long and fruitful following. The group is certainly extending the Tom Wolfe metaphor in his biographical novel, The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test. And the fans can’t seem to get enough of it.

Bottoms up!