As regular listeners will know, I’m a big fan of Phil Lesh music, which is to say post-GD lineups in all their many shades (or most of them anyway). This week, for a mid-summer dose of Dead, I want to turn our attention to one of the least popular tours, the 2009 run from The Dead.
This lineup featured the core four, along with Jeff Chimenti and Warren Haynes. And therein lie both the problem and the solution. Many fans complained about the roughness of the sound and playing, and the very dominant presence of Warren, and those are largely valid points. The shows I hit reminded me of an early eighties vibe — a little loose, a little rowdy, nothing very polished or transcendent in the way Grateful Dead can be. And it’s worth pointing out that what followed was the end of Ratdog, a noteworthy pause in Phil and Friends and the birth of Furthur, the most steady and successful post-GD lineup, and not coincidentally the Deadsiest sounding, in the almost 15 years of music since Garcia’s passing. Also, Warren was definitely in the forefront of every show, singing the majority of songs, sometimes trading verses with Bobby on a particular song, and sometimes Warren would sing a song one night and Bobby would sing the same song a few nights later. But that’s the point here: you can’t approach ’09 Dead looking for the Grateful Dead or even earlier versions of The Dead or The Other Ones. You need to look at these shows as Warren Haynes and Friends shows, where his friends just happen to be the remaining members of the Grateful Dead (and one seasoned veteran of Grateful Dead family bands) playing Grateful Dead music. I have an old friend who used to say the Grateful Dead was one of the best backing blues bands around, always citing the Etta James show as evidence, and there’s a lot to that. It’s also exactly what was on display for this tour.
With that in mind, this week we have a chunk of a first set from Philly: New Speedway Boogie, Shakedown Street, Dupree’s Diamond Blues and Hard to Handle. The music is pretty stellar here, raw and nasty and grooved out. Sure, some of that seems a bit out place in the huge arena settings that made up the tour, and might have been more at home in a club setting, but in the tide of time the ripping leads, big bass bombs and soulful singing speak for themselves. As always, enjoy!
Also, I just want to say what a pleasure it’s been to be here at Hidden Track for all these years. Slade invited me to come on board within the first couple months of the blog, and ever since I’ve had the real joy of sharing so much music with all of you. I really appreciated that both Slade and Scotty always let me run with whatever I had in mind, from the acoustic mixes to the full sets to the long series, like the PLQ retrospective and the Ghosts of Jambands Past (which was the title of a column in the earliest days of jambands.com), and I’ve especially loved the reception you all have given to the various jazz episodes I’ve been able to offer. Dead and Phish sets and mixes always get lots of hits, but the jazz material is less of a safe bet, and you all seem to eat it up every time. It’s been great, and I’m looking forward to sharing more over at JamBase in the coming weeks.