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dead.net mini essay

#7113 3 years, 6 months ago

Just thought I'd hip y'all to a little pro-Furthur piece I wrote for my regular weekly blog on dead.net. If anyone would like to add to the discussion (which I'm happy to say has been overwhelmingly pleasant and positive so far) and/or check out dead.net in general, consider this a friendly invitation. I also have an in-depth interview with Joe Russo on the home page (www.dead.net under "Dead World Roundup") and previously chatted with Jeff Chimenti, which should be accessible through the "Dead World Roundup" archives...

Anyway, here's a link directly to the latest blog:


The following user(s) said Thank You: the highway terror, Deadhead4Obama, wngfan, Jack Jones, EProphet, funky420
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If you stumble, make it part of the dance.

Re: dead.net mini essay

#7121 3 years, 6 months ago
Thank you blair I'm on my way to check it out now.
The voices tell me what to say
the highway terror
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{({({({({(Health Vibes For Bobby)})})})})}

Re: dead.net mini essay

#7122 3 years, 6 months ago
thank you mr. jackson ! checking it out now .

great article thanks blair !
Can't Live that Negative Way, Make Room for the Positive Day !
Last Edit: 3 years, 6 months ago by the highway terror.
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Tyler Curtis

Re: dead.net mini essay

#7126 3 years, 6 months ago
Blair, love all your work, as a fellow music journalist.
Buy the ticket, take the ride..."
Jack Jones
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Re: dead.net mini essay

#7184 3 years, 6 months ago
Good to see you in 'our' camp Blair. I agree with your article. I've heard all but 2 Furthur shows & seen them 5 times..

I also saw 60+ GD shows: most all of the Hampton GD (Warlocks!) runs, MWP, Jerry's 12/86 comeback shows (LOVED JGB 12.21.86 at the Stone)
Paris & London '90. -I saw some great GD shows. I miss Jerry & Brent & Vince, too. Didn't know Pig or Keith...

I found the Bloomfield run this year to be the best 3 night run of music that I ever saw! I *love* this band!
... that one word is "why?"

Music alone may span that space between the finite and the infinite. Edgar Cayce Reading 3659-1
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Re: dead.net mini essay

#7285 3 years, 6 months ago
Welcome, Blair!
Brooklyn Jimmy
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Re: dead.net mini essay

#7286 3 years, 6 months ago
Furthurboard hazing ritual for BJ at 4pm Eastern, appropriately on April 1st.
Brooklyn Jimmy
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Re: dead.net mini essay

#7302 3 years, 6 months ago
Great Piece Blair. I totally agree. This is NOT the Grateful Dead, this is an incredibly tight wrecking crew of a band with top musicians all around who can both "turn on a dime" and space the heck out.

The coolest part is they seem to be having such a blast doing it, so I'm all in.
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Re: dead.net mini essay

#12105 3 years, 6 months ago
Hey Blair...

That link seems to only direct to your piece entitled, "Breakout!" though the title shows "Loving Furthur".
Can you get "Loving Furthur" back up or copy/paste here please?

Edit to add I found the original thanks to a cached google page....

Blair's Golden Road Blog - Loving Furthur
By Blair Jackson

I was skeptical at first. Furthur seemed to come out of nowhere.

Back in mid-2009, The Dead (v3.0, with the Core Four augmented by Warren Haynes and Jeff Chimenti) had completed a big (overpriced) tour of large arenas that had garnered mostly raves from fans coast to coast. I dug the one show I saw, and heard the rest either on Archive.org or through a half-dozen or so soundboard recordings I purchased. But while many fans were talking breathlessly of possible fall tour dates for The Dead, I was not-so-secretly hoping that the last incarnation of Phil & Friends—with Jackie Greene, Larry Campbell, John Molo and Steve Molitz—was going to get back together and start touring smaller halls. That was my favorite post-GD group—they seemed so joyous, alive and full of energy, and they served the Dead’s songs, Jackie’s great tunes and all the fabulous covers they tackled so wonderfully well. I had hoped they would stay together for years, maybe develop a bunch of original tunes.

It was not to be. First The Dead pushed them aside, then in August 2009 Bob and Phil formed Furthur, effectively putting an end to both Phil & Friends and RatDog in one fell swoop, at least for the time being. (I have friends who feel the same way about “losing” RatDog as I did about losing that edition of P&F.) I was initially disappointed that Mickey and Bill were evidently not going to be a part of Furthur—the Rhythm Devils’ segment having been a favorite part of my Grateful Dead experience, and also in The Dead—and I wondered whether the “Garcia guy” from Dark Star Orchestra would be a good choice. I didn’t much care for the one DSO show I attended at the Fillmore in SF, and I couldn’t quite picture what it would be like to hear John Kadlecik (who?) in the Garcia slot with Bobby and Phil.

I think all of us have wrestled to varying degrees with what we wanted to hear from the lead guitarists in Phil’s and Bobby’s bands. Bob made it simple by choosing Mark Karan for RatDog early on—a tremendous player who had clearly listened to Garcia a lot, could quote his guitar parts accurately when called upon, but still had a lot of his own personality. Phil & Friends has, of course, been all over the map, with countless lineups and scads of guitarists in different combinations. How many of these folks who played multiple shows with Phil did you see? Stan Franks, Trey Anastasio, Steve Kimock, David Nelson, Warren Haynes, Barry Sless, Jeff Mattson, Al Schnier, Paul Barrere, Derek Trucks, Jorma Kaukonen, Robben Ford, Jeff Pevar, Jimmy Herring, Ryan Adams, John Scofield, Larry Campbell, Jackie Greene … that’s most (but not all) of ’em! Then there were a slew of different keyboardists and singers, so you never quite knew what you were going to get with Phil & Friends from season to season.

Phil and his guitarists turned the Grateful Dead’s catalog inside out and upside down in a truly bold ongoing experiment. Some lineups were better than others, some hewed closer to the Dead’s arrangements than others. Robben Ford and John Scofield are outstanding guitarists (musicians’ musicians, as the cliché goes), but I didn’t appreciate their interpretation of Grateful Dead music for the most part. The long-lasting quintet (nicknamed the PLQ) with Haynes, Herring, Rob Barraco and John Molo never sounded that much like the Dead (though Herring moved more and more in Garcia’s direction as time went on). But they put such an interesting spin on the songs that they sounded like a real band that just happened to play a lot of Grateful Dead music. They were too noodly for some, not Dead-like enough for others, but they made some mighty music along the way.

Personally, I always enjoyed those hints and dollops of Jerry you’d get from guitarists such as Karan, Kimock, Sless, Trey and Larry Campbell, because who are we kidding? That is the great void we’re always looking to fill. And you know what—nobody is going to ever fill it. I know a number of hardcore Dead Heads who will not go see any of the post-Garcia bands. As one friend put it not too long ago, “Jerry was my guy. If he’s not there, I’m not interested.” That’s fine. I totally respect that viewpoint, though I strongly disagree. I’ve been interested in checking out every band that’s come down the pike involving the former GD members. We’ve come this far together, I trust ’em!

Which brings us back to Furthur. Much to my surprise, I love this band. It turns out I really like hearing someone who plays in the Garcia oeuvre so well out there mixing it up with Bob and Phil, who seem to be having a great time with this group, as well. It’s not just that JK “speaks” their language; he has internalized it to such a degree that it flows out of him naturally and effortlessly. And that is not an easy accomplishment. As I’ve said many times, you cannot fake good improvisational music, any more than you can fake speaking a foreign language with vocabulary alone. John has serious chops, and with each passing month he’s moved “furthur” out of his old DSO comfort zone by bringing new textures and ideas to songs we’ve all heard a million times. I like that he’s confident enough to sing Jerry’s big ballads—“Comes A Time,” “Stella Blue,” “Wharf Rat,” “So Many Roads,” “Morning Dew,” etc.— and he plays the hell out of all of them. There are those who think some or all of those songs are untouchable. Nonsense. They’re GREAT songs that should be heard by current and future generations of concertgoers, no matter who sings or plays them. I’ve been deeply moved by every one of those songs at Furthur shows. I also love what John does with a pair of Ryan Adams tunes, “Nobody Girl” and “Magnolia Mountain,” heavy numbers that fit perfectly with Hunter-Garcia classics.

What’s even more exciting is that probably a third or more of Furthur’s repertoire are songs that Garcia very rarely played or never played at all. I think it’s a real treat that we get to hear gnarled and twisted versions of “Viola Lee Blues” in 2011; that we get to enjoy Furthur’s take on the entire “Terrapin Station” suite (which the Grateful Dead never performed live) and totally nail it, time after time; that Phil’s haunting “Mountains of the Moon” has taken that song to places Jerry never imagined; that these guys are fearless enough to attempt “Blues for Allah,” “Rosemary,” “What’s Become of the Baby” and even “Alice D. Millionaire.” Jerry played “King Solomon’s Marbles” in concert just six times in his lifetime. Furthur has made it a signature tune and it kills. Why shouldn’t a new generation enjoy the thrill of belting out “St. Stephen” with Phil, Bob and company? It’s been great hearing this band interpret some of the best original RatDog tunes — “Money for Gasoline,” “Ashes and Glass” and “Two Djinn” — and to watch the development of Furthur originals such as “Seven Hills of Gold,” “Colors of the Rain” and “Big Bad Blues,” and retoolings like “Mountain Song” and “High on a Mountain.” There’s an adventurous and playful side to this group that allows them to give the ol’ college try to all of Abbey Road, The Clash’s “Train in Vain” and Pink Floyd’s “Eclipse”; not to mention suddenly letting Warren Haynes sing “Blue Sky” and sit in for a set, and inviting Elvis Costello, Larry Campbell and Diana Krall to join them recently at Radio City. This band is into constantly shakin’ it up, and that’s part of what keeps it so interesting for me. I also love that they play mostly cool places.

There’s just so much to like about this group, from drum beast Joe Russo to keyboard titan Jeff Chimenti to singers Jeff Pehrson and Sunshine Becker—all major contributors to the band’s dynamic and varied sound.

I feel sad for the folks who can’t (or won’t, on principle) appreciate the incredible spirit and skill of Furthur. It’s not the Grateful Dead. (This just in—Jerry has been dead more than 15 years!) But it’s something new, at the same time it harks back to something old. It’s weird and reckless and strange and uplifting and heartfelt and rocking. Nearly all of the songs they play speak to my soul. No shame in digging this to the max while it’s here. So, put me down as a Furthur believer.

What’s been YOUR experience with post-Jerry bands involving former Grateful Dead members?
Last Edit: 3 years, 6 months ago by Shagadelic.
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Re: dead.net mini essay

#12352 3 years, 6 months ago
Very awesome read! Thank you very much for sharing!!!
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