Roots & Blues Celebrates the Grateful Dead

March 3, 2015 · Print This Article

The Salmon Arm Roots & Blues Festival is pleased to announce that a number of the artists attending the 2015 edition of the festival will participate in performances paying tribute to both The Grateful Dead and the band’s late leader Jerry Garcia.

Despite being dubbed as a “Long Strange Trip”, the journey and music of the Grateful Dead that spawned the Dead Head culture has proven to be timeless and as enticing to audiences that span several generations.

That 2015 marks the 50th anniversary of The Grateful Dead becoming an entity in San Francisco and the cornerstone band of that scene, and that 2015 also marks the 20th anniversary of the passing of Garcia, it seems only fitting that the incredible songbook and spirit of what this group of musicians created be recognized by Roots & Blues.

“Yes the Dead helped create the psychedelic scene of the sixties, but the band has always been so much more than that. Collectively and individually Garcia, Bob Weir, lyricist Robert Hunter, drummer Mickey Hart and the others had a foothold in the traditions of folk music from country to blues and bluegrass while Hart in particular has been a pivotal player in introducing a huge audience to many sounds associated with world music,” says Roots & Blues artistic director Peter North.

“I don’t think anyone so eloquently addressed the brilliance of Garcia like Bob Dylan did shortly after his passing,” said North of the following quote.

“There’s no way to measure his greatness or magnitude as a person or as a player. I don’t think eulogizing will do him justice. He was that great – much more than a superb musician with an uncanny ear and dexterity. He is the very spirit personified of whatever is muddy river country at its core and screams up into the spheres. He really had no equal. To me he wasn’t only a musician and friend, he was more like a big brother who taught and showed me more than he’ll ever know. There are a lot of spaces and advances between the Carter Family, Buddy Holly and, say, Ornette Coleman, a lot of universes, but he filled them all without being a member of any school. His playing was moody, awesome, sophisticated, hypnotic and subtle. There’s no way to convey the loss. It just digs down really deep.” Bob Dylan

Salmon Arm Roots & Blues will present a handful of shows drawing from the deep well of the Grateful Dead and Jerry Garcia with acoustic acts diving into traditional sources like Mississippi John Hurt, Jesse Fuller and Jimmie Rodgers while electric acts will take on classic Dead tunes ranging from ‘Fire On The Mountain’ to ‘Deal’ to ‘Truckin’’.

One of the acts that will be dispensing a number of Grateful Dead songs at Roots & Blues will be Brothers Keeper out of Vail, Colorado. While a band armed with a great songbook of originals, which you will hear on the weekend of the Festival, Brothers Keeper ( has always been inspired by the sounds that make the jam band scene unique.

Coming with Brothers Keeper are two members of the extended Grateful Dead Family, multi-instrumentalist Jason Crosby ( who has been performing with both Bob Weir and Phil Lesh, with the other artist being guitarist/singer Mark Karan who toured and recorded with Lesh, Weir, Mickey Hart and Bruce Hornsby in The Other Ones after Garcia’s passing. Karan also spend the better part of a decade in Weir’s band Ratdog. Both Karan and Crosby live in San Francisco.

“These guys all know the Grateful Dead and Garcia/Hunter songbooks inside out and there are a few other great artists who have serious connections to the Dead camp that will be announced as part of the Salmon Arm Roots and Blues Festival down the road,” said North.

“When you look at the reaction to Weir, Lesh, Hart and Billy Kreutzmann coming together for three final Grateful Dead ( reunion shows in Chicago this coming July and that there have been half a million requests for tickets, I think it is fair to say there are a lot of people out there who love this music and the vibe that goes with it. Salmon Arm Roots & Blues intends to present some of this music in a great light and I also believe it is something that has been overlooked on the western Canadian festival scene for some time,” added North.


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