I consider myself a Deadhead as much if not more than the standard music-aholic. Although I fell in love with music as a little kid (melodies appeared as toys to me, something as important as any cool little stuffed bear that held my young attention like a beacon of magic)but it wasn't until I 'got it' at Cal Expo 93 (still a babe, eighteen...) I had heard the Beatles and Dylan, Zeppelin and Hendrix, Floyd and the Doors and always assumed it was a right of passage as a contributor to American culture to know what made up the sonic landscape of where I lived. I remember (I'm sure we all have our philosophy on this) walking around lot, completely mesmerized at the drum circles, shakedown street and multitude of brightly colored vehicles amassed by the thousands at any given tour stop. This is not meant to 'reminisce' or wax poetic on what we all have a right to participate in (love, music, life). As I was imbedding the Grateful Dead experince on Summer tour 93, I was immediately struck with the generations of heads co-existing on different levels of having been with the boys over the years. I'm not talking about the weekend warriors who would buy budweiser and hot dogs and officially licensed memoribillia, i'm talking about people raning from 14 to 60 that had 'gotten it' on their own unique level. I guess 93 was the last time that the Dead really had a chance to maintain their longevity (JG had lost 60 pounds, stopped smoking 3 and half packs of unfiltered Camels,and after Barbara came back into Hunter and Jerry's life Days Between was penned...can you imagine never having heard it?) so one one level, I remember tour in 93-95 being like a support group as one heard very regularly the state of Garcia's physical, mental and musical health. So I always felt like I heard people comment on 'when it was better', 'Brent was the real deal' and so on. So just like there are people that like Jiffy PB over Skipp PB there is always going to be different camps of thought on what is 'the real deal'.
I saw the Grateful Dead fifty times from 91-95 (sigh...only one JGB show) and always felt that I 'got it'. This came from carefully obsessing over hundreds of hours of boot-legs and listening with as much honesty as I could muster. There was always a better show, better tour ect... so it was a constant process of evolving with the music and learning where it came from (Coltrane, the Carter Family, ect...) after Shoreline 95 I didn't see any GD related bands until Phil New Years 2000. What I saw that night made me so hungry to seek out what it all sounded like before. Garcia would never have allowed such varied setlists and would not have taken the muscial plunges that Phil ended up reigning in. It was a blessing for Jerry to rest finally and I feel that the music was very Grateful to be released from the stuffy confines of the last years. This being said, as I racked up Phil shows it appeared to me to begin to suffer from the same staleness that had categorized GD at the end. Endless musicians revolved in and out of the Dead scene, and in the process (Phish included of course) Bonaroo signaled the emergence of the next phase of the scene. There is so much to partake of now that it is only natural to weigh in on Further vs. DSO. How do you continue to get it? How do you grow with the world opened up by LSD and Terrapin? Music was here before that and will be, but it is important to remember where this all came from as it will continue to evolve into exciting new modes and forms.
I saw Furtherfest a month ago,and I hadn't seen any GD energy since New Years 2003. I was immediately stuck with the fact that it 'sounds' new. DSO to me sounds like a really tight jam band, but I dont know about them giving me the vibe I have grown to love. I repsect what they are doing immensely, and as a musician, am glad that one can perhaps make a living honoring the fallen giants with the care and efficinecy they do. That being said, Furthur made me reminisce and internalize my musical experience on a level that continues to scare me to this day. Look at Jambase itself, how many of these bands would have had to exist within the 'normal' confines of genres in morphing and pushing the envelope to new levels of creativity? Crazy shit kids....just be good to each other, I toured Festivals for years and remember grimy lot vibes just like at the end of the Boys....(Deercreek notwhtistanding) it wasnt always grimy, but I know that there is something right around the corner to our beloved scene... Take care and remember that the US governemnt classifies the counterculture as a terrorist threat...Be proud of Locks(if you sport em) and honor the herb, because otherwise we will all one day just be relegated to the halls of dinosaur reunion tours in concrete stadiums as our music is disseminated to the normal average, ENTERTAINMENT.... Bullshit, this is the keys to evolve the human race a step forward and to live simply (JG's words) peace yo...