*** JUST A TEST EVENT POSTING** Live Band the Grateful Dead
Formed as a quintet in California in 1965, the Grateful Dead became as much a folktale as the story from which they drew their name. Fusing rock and roll, folk, and jazz with avant-garde, visual, and literary traditions--and virtually inventing a new way to play music in the process--they became one of the most popular, enduring, and influential bands in American history. Emerging as a vessel for a vibrant global counterculture, they would create an unparalleled original songbook through 30 years of recording and touring. Never playing the same setlist twice (except that once), the Dead’s musical legacy remains unfathomably rich, spread across a combined body of live and studio recordings. Creating an artistic ecosystem all their own, the Grateful Dead would transform American music and arguably even America itself. After a comically disastrous stint in the Army and discharge in late 1960, Jerry Garcia (guitar, vocals) had spent an intense four years immersed in traditional American music, turning himself into a virtuoso acoustic guitarist and banjoist. Assembling a jug band with his coworkers at the Menlo Park music store where he taught, the happily sloppy Mother McCree’s Uptown Jug Champions plugged in and transformed into the Warlocks by 1965. Fronted by Ron “Pigpen” McKernan (organ, vocals, harmonic, and later percussion), the blues enthusiast who’d urged them to go electric, the new band also included Garcia’s occasional substitute teacher Bob Weir (guitar, vocals) along with Bill Kreutzmann (drums, percussion). They debuted in May of 1965 and quickly drafted in Garcia’s friend, the lapsed experimental composer Phil Lesh (bass, vocals). Discovering a single by another band called the Warlocks--most likely a Massachusetts garage rock quintet--the now-former California Warlocks resorted to stoned bibliomancy for their new name, picking “Grateful Dead” at random out of a dictionary. Appearing in many cultures, it is a folktale in which the protagonist resolves the debt of a deceased stranger, and later receives karmic repayment from their spirit incarnate: the Grateful Dead. Debuting with their new name at the first public Acid Test thrown by author Ken Kesey and the Merry Pranksters in December 1965, the relationship cemented the band’s part in the multidisciplinary Bay Area arts scene starting to flourish around the use of still-legal LSD. The newly christened Grateful Dead found an unusual and appropriate patron in psychedelic chemist and sound engineer Augustus Owsley Stanley III, known as Bear, whose profits sustained them as they began to write their own songs and hone their conversational playing style in 1966. As the band settled in San Francisco’s Haight-Ashbury, acid simultaneously became both illegal and a global trend, symbolically if not always literally. A collaborative tool for the Grateful Dead, psychedelics were an ingrained part of the band’s mythos, occasionally (but only occasionally) to their chagrin.