Songs Of Their Own | John Scofield & John Medeski – Stella Blue
To celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Grateful Dead, JamBase teamed with Telefunken to produce the Songs Of Their Own 50-day tribute series featuring a daily cover of a Grateful Dead original song. Our grand finale 50th video, a Playing For Change Songs Around The World rendition of “Ripple,” will premiere the day of the final Fare Thee Well show in Chicago on July 5. With a focus solely on Grateful Dead original songs, we asked many of our favorite artists to record cover versions at the JamBase office in San Francisco, at one of the many venues around the Bay Area, at Telefunken’s Connecticut studios and beyond. No song was allowed to be covered twice, and today’s participants John Scofield & John Medeski dreamed up “Stella Blue.”
“Stella Blue” entered the Grateful Dead live setting on the same night Pigpen exited, debuting during the first set of the keyboardist’s last appearance (in which he did not sing) with the band at the Hollywood Bowl on June 17, 1972. Robert Hunter wrote what would become a beloved ballad sung by Jerry Garcia at the Chelsea Hotel in New York City circa 1970. The Dead steadily played “Stella Blue” numerous times each year through the rest of their career. Recorded for their 1973 LP Wake Of The Flood, it was played almost exclusively in the late second set “Jerry ballad” slot over the life of the emotional song. The final live performance of “Stella Blue” came after over 320 renditions, on June 6, 1995 at Riverport Amphitheatre near St. Louis.
We met up last week with guitarist John Scofield and keyboardist John Medeski before their duo gig at Stanford’s Dinkelspiel Auditorium located on the university’s Palo Alto, California campus. Scofield’s familiarity with The Dead’s songbook certainly solidified during his numerous appearances with Phil Lesh & Friends, and he and Medeski have covered “Scarlet Begonias” together previously with Medeski, Scofield, Martin & Wood – a version arranged instrumentally – similar to their gorgeous cover of “Stella Blue.”
Head here to explore our Songs Of Their Own homepage featuring Max Creek, Jackie Greene, Strangefolk, Midnight North, Anders Osborne & Luther Dickinson, Keller Williams and more or watch each entry via the YouTube Playlist below.