Songs Of Their Own | Keller Williams – Cumberland Blues

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To celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Grateful Dead, JamBase teamed with Telefunken to produce the Songs Of Their Own video series. We began with a list of 100 Grateful Dead original songs (exclusively their tunes, not covers they often played) and tapped many of our favorite artists to record a cover version either at the JamBase office in San Francisco or at one of the many venues around town and beyond. No song was allowed to be covered twice, and today’s participant Keller Williams got down to “Cumberland Blues.”

Credited to Robert Hunter, Jerry Garcia and Phil Lesh, New Riders of the Purple Sage’s David Nelson supplied acoustic guitar to the studio recording of “Cumberland Blues” which began side two of the 1970 Workingman’s Dead LP. “Cumberland Blues” was first played live to close the first set on November 8, 1969 at the Fillmore Auditorium in San Francisco (released as Dick’s Picks Volume 16). Performed live often until October 18, 1974 at the Winterland in San Francisco, “Cumberland Blues” fell out of rotation for many years before being busted out mid-first set August 27, 1981 at the Long Beach Arena in Long Beach, California. The Dead managed to perform “Cumberland Blues” a few times each year, until after over 200 performances it was selected as the second to last song of the first set at their final show on July 9, 1995 at Chicago’s Soldier Field.

Though we have plenty of other artists still to contribute to Songs Of Their Own, previous presenter Keller Williams graciously recorded two Grateful Dead songs for our tribute series. Recorded at Terrapin Crossroads a few months back when KW was in town to perform at the 4/20 House Party on April 20 where he was a member of Phil Lesh & Friends along with Jackie Greene, Jason Crosby and Alex Koford, Williams worked up his solo acoustic version of the song. A frequent addition to Keller’s live sets, his familiarity with “Cumberland Blues” made for a compelling recording.

Watch all of the Songs Of Their Own entries including Jackie Greene, Strangefolk, Midnight North, Anders Osborne & Luther Dickinson, Leftover Salmon, Hot Buttered Rum, Yonder Mountain String Band and more via the YouTube Playlist below.

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