Dead & Company Perform ‘Jack Straw’ & ‘Cumberland Blues’ At Dodger Stadium

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Dead & Company shared a pair of pro-shot video highlights from their concert at Dodger Stadium on July 7, 2018. Footage of first set versions of “Jack Straw” and “Cumberland Blues” can be viewed below.

Dead & Company kicked off their Dodger Stadium Summer Tour 2018 show with “Playing In The Band” and “Bertha.” Guitarists John Mayer and Bob Weir then led the group through “Jack Straw.” They then played “Big Railroad Blues,” “Peggy-O” and “Ramble On Rose,” which was followed by Weir telling the infamous “Duck Joke” while equipment issues were dealt with. The band then lit into “Cumberland Blues.”

Gary Lambert, the co-host of Tales From The Golden Road on SiriusXM’s Grateful Dead Channel, shared his notes with the Dodger Stadium performances of “Jack Straw” and “Cumberland Blues”. Regarding “Jack Straw,” Lambert wrote:

Bob Weir and Robert Hunter only wrote a handful of songs together for the Grateful Dead, as Hunter was primarily joined at the creative hip with Jerry Garcia and Weir’s primary source of lyrics was John Perry Barlow. But the Weir/Hunter joint output, modest as it was, yielded some stunning results, and none more so than “Jack Straw.”

Weir was first inspired to tackle the subject matter of Depression-era outlaws on the lam by reading John Steinbeck’s classic novel Of Mice And Men and again by seeing the 1939 film adaptation of the same. Hunter’s extraordinary talent for narrative and Weir’s far-reaching musical sensibilities made for a perfect match in creating a captivating piece of storytelling – a cinematic epic somehow encapsulated in the confines of a song, delivered here with power and passion by Dead & Company.

Here are Lambert’s notes on “Cumberland Blues”:

A high-energy Dead & Company take on one of the enduring jewels of the Robert Hunter-Jerry Garcia songwriting partnership, first heard on the Grateful Dead’s 1970 classic Workingman’s Dead. Like the other songs on that album, “Cumberland Blues” may have seemed to come out of nowhere to listeners who were accustomed to the psychedelic anarchy of the band’s previous work, but in fact it was in some ways a return to the roots from which the Dead sprung.

Bob Weir has told of driving around with Garcia in the early days of their long musical and personal association and picking up distant radio signals from the West Coast’s primary outpost for country music, Bakersfield, California. And it’s the Bakersfield sound, as exemplified by such greats as Merle Haggard and Buck Owens, that lies at the heart of “Cumberland Blues” (Garcia often credited Roy Nichols, lead guitarist for Haggard’s band The Strangers, and Don Rich, who held the same role in Owens’ Buckaroos, among his favorite guitarists and biggest influences).

Much of the music the Grateful Dead made in the early ‘70s drew on similar sources of inspiration, and the music they created can now be clearly seen as an important precursor to the hybrid of rock, country and folk that has come to be known, for want of a better label, as Americana.

Watch the pair of pro-shot videos here:

Jack Straw

Cumberland Blues

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