[Originally Published: April 20, 2014 with additional entries on April 20, 2017]
The history of 4/20 has been written out a fair bit in recent years. Whether it was NPR’s 2006 It’s 4/20; Where Are All My Co-Workers segment on All Things Considered or a 2014 deep-dive by website Vox and their piece 4/20, America’s stoner holiday, explained. Regardless of the attention of more mainstream press, one thing is for sure – the world of live music has been observing the holiday for quite some time now. In today’s special 4/20 edition of the JamBase List, check out ten nods to the calendar from shows which took place on April 20th over the years. This is, of course, a small sample of everything we had to work with, so if we missed your favorite – be sure to let us know with a Facebook comment or tweet.
1. Disco Biscuits – 4/20/2002 @ Barrymore Theatre – Madison, Wisconsin
Even if it’s not April 20th, Marc Brownstein often tells a hilarious narration or story during tDB’s “Nughuffer,” but 2002’s version from Madison’s Barrymore Theatre is a doozy. Have a listen to the magical night where Brownie met his “best friend in the entire world.”
[Taped by Kevin Hughes]
2. Yonder Mountain String Band – 4/20/2013 @ The McDonald Theatre – Eugene, Oregon
In 2013, YMSB busted out “Two Hits and The Joint Turned Brown” and also posted a picture to their Facebook page of a stage setlist with every song title aptly modified.
[Taped by Dean Grabski]
3. Umphrey’s McGee – 4/20/2002 @ Crystal Ballroom – Portland, Oregon
UM original “Weed Rap” was performed nine times before being permanently shelved, on some occasions was paired with Dr. Dre’s “Xxplosive” (of which it borrows musical elements) and thankfully was once performed at one of UM’s many 4/20 shows. For more recent UM 4/20 hijinx, check out 2013’s “Burning Down The House” cover. Head to the track marked “Xxplosive” to hear the “Weed Rap” from 4/20/2002.
[Taped by Leigh MacKenzie]
4. Keller Williams – 4/20/1999 @ Murphy’s – Steamboat Springs, Colorado
Some 4/20 nods are more subtle than others. Keller Williams lays it on pretty thick in this show hitting on such tunes as “It’s A Plant,” “Inhale To The Chief,” “Blazeabago” and more.
[Taped by Dave Koorey]
5. moe. – 4/20/2001 @ State Theatre – Portland, Maine
On the surface a cover of “I Wanna Be Sedated” on 4/20 seems like a pretty clear nod to the “holiday” but as the timing so happened in 2001, Joey Ramone had also just passed away earlier that week. Perhaps “Recreational Chemistry” is also a nod as moe. seems quite fond on playing that one on 4/20 over the years. moe. also worked in “Hi and Lo,” “Cocaine” and “Opium” to the drug-reference heavy setlist on 4/20/2001.
[Taped by Rich Young]
6. Perpetual Groove – 4/20/2004 @ Variety Playhouse – Atlanta, Georgia
Some song titles leave little to the imagination, like PGroove’s first time played cover “Marijuana In Your Brain” by Lords of Acid. Also check PGroove’s 2011 cover of “Mary Jane’s Last Dance.”
[Taped by Matt Dolian]
7. Leftover Salmon – 4/20/2013 @ Old Settlers Music Festival – Driftwood, Texas
It helps when you’ve got tunes in your repertoire perfect for the occasion, like when Leftover Salmon closed their set at the Old Settler’s Music Festival in 2013 with “Wake and Bake.”
[Taped by Mike Taylor]
8. The Motet – 4/20/2013 @ The Fillmore – Denver, Colorado
In celebration of Colorado becoming the first state to pass legalized marijuana legislation and an “acknowledgement that nature is not, and should never be illegal,” The Motet, along with special guests, play a special “Weed Medley” featuring “Pass The Dutchie,””Legalize It,” and “Mary Jane.”
[Taped by edsi]
9. Greensky Bluegrass – 4/20/2010 @ Cervantes’ Other Side – Denver, Colorado
Back in 2010, Greensky Bluegrass put in the extra effort to learn not one, but many holiday appropriate tunes for their show in Colorado. Check out “Hits From The Bong” by Cypress Hill and “Because I Got High” (with new lyrics) by Afroman and more.
[Taped by Phil Rollins]
10. Phil Lesh & Friends – 4/20/2001 @ Independence Hall – Charlotte, North Carolina
When Phil Lesh & Friends and the famous “Q” lineup came through Charlotte in 2001 for 4/20 they were sure to jam on Bob Dylan’s “Rainy Day Women #12 & 35” as well as perform a full rendition of Van Morrison’s “And It Stoned Me.”
Here’s a handful of bonuses that took place since we originally published this article:
11. Big Something – 4/20/2016 @ The Rabbit Hole – Charlotte, North Carolina
North Carolina jam act Big Something worked “Mary Jane,” “Sweet Leaf” and “Tumbleweed” into their 4/20 show last year.
[Taped by Team Dirty South]
12. Twiddle – 4/20/2016 @ Woodlands Tavern – Columbus, Ohio
Vermont-based quartet Twiddle performed a “Ganja Medley” on this date in 2016 that included “Legalize It,” “Pass The Dutchie,”, “Who’s Got The Herb?, and “Smoke Two Joints.”
[Taped by taperchris]
13. Tim Palmieri – 4/20/2016 @ Bar – New Haven, Connecticut
Kung Fu guitarist Tim Palmieri kept the 4/20-friendly songs coming during a solo acoustic performance in New Haven in 2016. “I Wanna Get High,” “Mother’s Little Helper,” “Marijuana,” “Because I Got High” and “Rainy Day Women No. 12 & 35” were among the tunes with drug references.
[Taped by Paul Ryan]
14. Stu Allen & Friends – 4/20/2015 @ Terrapin Crossroads – San Rafael, California
Phil Lesh’s Terrapin Crossroads hosted a 4/20 House Party in 2015 that included sets from Stu Allen & Friends, Scott Law Electric Band and Phil Lesh & Friends. Allen’s group focused purely on 4/20-friendly tunes, namely “Light Up Or Leave Me Alone,” “Mary Jane’s Last Dance,” “And It Stoned Me,” “I Shot The Sheriff” and Rainy Day Women No. 12 & 35.”
[Taped by Jon Hart]
Celebrate trumpeter/vocalist Jennifer Hartswick’s birthday with audio or video featuring 10 collaborations (out of 27 total) with Umphrey’s McGee.
Guitarist John Mayer showed off his quick wit in the middle of “Your Body Is A Wonderland” when he addressed those in Grateful Dead t-shirts and who want to hear the trio.
Watch the members of Metallica discuss Phish’s repeat-free, 13-show run at Madison Square Garden.
Grateful Dead tribute act Dark Star Orchestra focuses on the Northeast to end 2017.
Read a review and view a photo gallery of Taj Mahal and Keb’ Mo’s recent TajMo performance in Central Park in New York City.
JamBase Editorial Director Scott Bernstein looks back at The Great Went, Phish’s second major festival, which began 20 years ago today.