The Dead announce a 19-date spring tour
I can see the music-- The Grateful Dead.
Make all the hippie jokes you want to (there's even one in the subhead of this blog if you're short on ideas). Take all the pot shots you want at burn-out acid cases with teddy bear stamps on their rusted VW bugs. You can even take a crack at Jerry Garcia-- he's been dead for 13 years, and it's ok to laugh.
But they're naught but sticks and stones, folks, and none of it can tarnish the fact that The Dead, who are returning to the road this April, are among the most long-lived, indefatigable, fundamentally talented musicians of the last fifty years.
Their sense of community, their free form approach to music, their lengthy, intensely complex, highly improvisational performances seem so natively informed by the Haight-Ashbury of 1965 that all those kaleidescopic, technicolor good vibrations might seem a little foreign in this alienating, dystopian present. Sure--- they're easily lampooned, and the spiritual optimism they endorsed proved to be more than a little reliant upon psychadelic naivette.
But, Garcia aside, you can't keep a good man down. In a conversation with CNN, bassist Phil Lesh announced that all surviving members of the Dead's original lineup will be hitting the road for 19 dates in 16 cities this April, to gently proselytize an aproach to the creative impulse that many of the iPhone generation may be only distantly and tangentially aware of.
Lesh is no dummy-- he knows that the Dead's stock has dipped a touch, along with tye dye, LSD consumption, and other keepsakes from the summer of love. "We've been accused of being under-arranged. We've also been accused of noodling," he said in an interview with Denise Quan. "We make it different, make it new every night. We never play the same licks or the same fills twice. There is a set list -- more or less -- but Bobby, in particular, likes to stick things in."
The other good news? They're breezing over Minneapolis on their route west-- the closest they're coming is Chicago, which means the disinterested will have no cause to whinge, and the devoted will have all the more reason to gas up the EuroBus and hit the road. Win win.