The picture is starting to get a bit clearer on the Grateful Dead's plans for the Summer ...and perhaps beyond.
Fare Thee Well? One More Saturday Night!
Word now is that in response to the unprecedented demand for the Dead's "Fare Thee Well" shows in Chicago, the same lineup, featuring all four surviving members of the Dead plus frequent collaborator Bruce Hornsby and Phish guitarist Trey Anastasio, will also appear in the Bay Area for two shows at Santa Clara's Levi's Stadium in late June, we believe the 27th and 28th.
The Santa Clara shows will be the only additional shows to feature this lineup or at which all four of the surviving Dead members will play together (though we do expect at least two if not all four to appear as part of the Grateful Dead Tribute Night at San Francisco's AT&T Park on August 13th, where the band will join together to sing the National Anthem before the Giants game). As previously mentioned, however, there will be more "Grateful Dead" shows this year that feature some of the members playing together with different guest artists, all of them playing with separate bands, or both. Some of these shows will take place at iconic venues like New York's Madison Square Garden arena, Colorado's Red Rocks Amphitheatre, and probably a San Francisco-area venue to be determined, in addition to, perhaps, the Hollywood Bowl.
Weir Still Here
First, we expect a series of shows, perhaps a tour, featuring a nearly-Dead ("Almost Grateful"?) lineup set to include three of the "core" four surviving members - singer-guitarist Bob Weir and dual drummers BIll Kreutzmann and Mickey Hart. On guitar, these shows will feature special guest and Dead fan John Mayer, as well as Steve Kimock, a Bay Area native regarded as a specialist in Jerry Garcia's style, while Phish's Mike Gordon will stand in for still-kicking bass player Phil Lesh, and frequent Dead collaborator Jeff Chimenti, also part of the stadium band, will handle keyboard duties. We expect these shows to take place either in June, right before the Bay Area gigs, or perhaps in late Summer and early Fall, and to begin or end with a multi-night stand at Red Rocks (where Kreutzmann and Hart appear with third-generation jam band the Disco Biscuits next month). Members of this band may also join Weir at the Dear Jerry tribute concert at Maryland's Merriweather Post Pavilion in May, at which all four members will appear separately. We note both that that event will take just days before David Letterman's final appearance on air, and that Weir was a musical guest during Mayer's recent stint guest-hosting CBS' The Late Late Show.
In the Spirit of Woodstock
Second, a number of festivals will see Dead-themed shows featuring one or more band members. We believe that the nearly-Dead lineup, or one close to it (perhaps substituting Widespread Panic's David Schools for Phish's Gordon) may play the as-yet-unannounced Saturday night "Superjam" at this June's Bonnaroo festival in Tennessee before performing at the Live Earth event outside NYC a few days later. We also would not be surprised to see a different Dead band, featuring Weir, Kreutzmann and Hart along with fellow sixties and seventies San Francisco star Carlos Santana on guitar, perform at the Outside Lands Music and Arts Festival in Golden Gate Park, the site of many sixties Grateful Dead concerts, on August 9th, the anniversary of Garcia's death (we will have more to say about that festival's lineup soon). That would occur just a week before Weir and Kreutzmann collaborate with several young jamband musicians at the annual Allman Brothers-themed Peach Music Festival in Pennsylvania, whose bill also includes Santana and several notable Dead collaborators including Hornsby and latter-day Allman brother Warren Haynes (as well as Gregg Allman himself), and where Weir will separately collaborate with New Orleans' Preservation Hall Jazz Band. We would not be surprised if additional such collaborations are announced for Connecticut's Dead-themed Gathering of the Vibes festival, at which Kreutzmann will perform on Garcia's birthday, August 1st, or the Phases of the Moon festival in Arkansas in October.
While Bonnaroo and Outside Lands are the biggest-name festivals to feature potential Dead collaborations this year, the only festival that will host all four members of the band is the Lockn' Festival in central Virginia in mid-September. The four members will appear mostly separately, but we expect subsets of them to take part in at least two of the collaborations that are the festival's organizing principle. One will be an encore of the Weir-Kreutzmann collaboration set for the Peach. Another will likely involve an appearance by "Dead Feat," featuring Little Feat members Fred Tackett and Paul Barrere (the band itself appears separately) along with Kreutzmann and New Orleans guitar/vocalists and big Dead fans Anders Osborne and Billy Iuso. And we would not be surprised if a third pairs Santana with Hart and perhaps Lesh, already announced as leading his own band of unspecified "Friends," who we expect to include Haynes and Osborne on guitar.
In addition to the Dead and perhaps Santana, Lockn' will also celebrate the 50th anniversary of a third group of San Francisco scenesters, the Jefferson Airplane. Original members Jorma Kaukonen (who will take part in the Dear Jerry concert) and Jack Casady will participate in a special Jefferson Airplane set featuring many special guests led by Saturday Night Live musical director G.E. Smith and husband and wife duo Larry Campbell and Teresa Williams of the Levon Helm Band (and he of Bob Dylan's band, among others, as well). While Grace Slick is now retired from performing, her parts will be handled by Lake Street Dive's big-voiced Rachael Price, and we would not be surprised if original Airplane singer Marty Balin is added to the lineup at a later date, nor if the Dead's Kreutzmann participates on drums. Kaukonen and Casady will also perform as their duo formed in the early '70s, Hot Tuna, and we expect Kaukonen to take part in one of the Dead-themed collaborations at the festival as well.
Finally, there is the possibility of additional Dear Jerry-style tribute concerts on one or both coasts, perhaps circa Garcia's birthday, but more likely in the Fall. We would expect any event in California, especially if it takes place in the Los Angeles area, to feature members of Dead friends Los Lobos (also appearing at the Maryland event), who we note have have broken with tradition this year and moved their annual Cinco de Mayo festival at LA's Greek Theatre to the Miller Outdoor Theatre in Houston's Hermann Park. In New York, we would not be surprised to see one or more concerts, whether a single all-star tribute or a series of shows, perhaps around Thanksgiving, and featuring members of Jefferson Airplane, Phish, and even Dead-set indie-rockers The National, among others including Garcia-minded guitarists Kimock and John Kadlecik, who played Jerry in Weir and Lesh's Furthur band, as well as potential special guests Hornsby and Dead collaborator Branford Marsalis. While Lesh, arguably the leading musical force in the band these days, will not appear at festivals other than Lockn', he may participate in these additional tribute events with his own band of friends, perhaps including San Francisco-based Garcia-stylist Stu Allen on guitar. Lesh and/or another member or two is also likely to participate in Haynes' annual Christmas Jam in Asheville, NC in December.
Expect an announcement of the Levi's Stadium shows as early as this week, and stay tuned for "furthur" updates...