Two of the Grateful Dead's greatest albums, American Beauty and Workingman's Dead, both recorded in 1970, will each be honored with its own evening when Arts>World Financial Center presents The American Beauty Project free in the World Financial Center Winter Garden, 220 Vesey Street.
Workingman's Dead, which was recorded in March 1970 & will be honored Saturday, January 20, at 8:00pm by a distinctive roster of singer-songwriters, bands and instrumentalists when each perform one of the tracks on the classic album. The next night, Sunday, January 21, at 8:00pm, another group of singers and musicians will perform cuts from American Beauty which was recorded in August and September 1970.
Performing their own arrangements of the Workingman's Dead and American Beauty songs are Jorma Kaukonen (Hot Tuna, Jefferson Airplane), Ollabelle, Toshi Reagon, The Holmes Brothers, Jen Chapin, Dar Williams, The Klezmatics, Tim O'Reagan (The Jayhawks), Mark Eitzel (American Music Club), Larry Campbell, Catherine Russell, Jim Lauderdale, Andy Statman, Tony Trischka, and more names to be announced in the months ahead.
Putting together The American Beauty Project to celebrate 35th anniversary of these two landmark Grateful Dead albums is Artistic Director and Producer David Spelman, who was responsible for similar tributes to Bob Dylan and Bruce Springsteen. At last year's Nebraska Project honoring Springsteen, The Boss himself spent the evening standing unnoticed with the crowd before jumping on stage for the finale.
"Both Workingman's Dead and American Beauty were ranked on Rolling Stone magazine's list of the 500 greatest albums of all time, 258 and 262, respectively," said Mr. Spelman. "Each was extremely innovative at the time for their fusion of bluegrass, rock, folk and country music." Workingman's Dead, the band's fourth studio album, was recorded in March 1970, and was voted by readers of Rolling Stone as the best album of 1970, in front of Crosby, Stills and Nash's Déjà Vu and Van Morrison's Moondance.
American Beauty was recorded between August and September of 1970 and was released in November of the same year. It included instant radio favorites such as "Truckin'" "Sugar Magnolia" and "Friend of the Devil."
"The acoustic sound and folk/country tunes of Workingman's Dead would come as quite a shock to many fans, and to the critics as a harbinger of some sort of conscious movement (along with The Band, Dylan and the Byrds) toward country," wrote Grateful Dead biographer Dennis McNally in his program notes for the event. Mr. McNally went on to add that: "as usual with the Grateful Dead, the album's origins were serendipitous and synchronistic, involving no plan or program. Instead, their swerve to include country songs in their work began quite accidentally when their lyricist Robert Hunter moved in with the Garcia family in January 1969 ... In March 1970, they went into the studio to record Workingman's Dead. Hugely in debt to their record company, they were forced to be simple and economize, thinking consciously of Buck Owens' Bakersfield sound. The simplicity served the music perfectly, and the result was a classic, although not the departure many thought it was. They'd enlarged their vision, not changed it."
Arts>World Financial Center serves as the leading showcase in Lower Manhattan for visual and performing arts - from the intimate to the spectacular - by artists either emerging or established. Since 1988, year-round and free to the public, it has presented interdisciplinary arts programming with an emphasis on commissioned works, site-specific installations and premieres.
All events are free! No tickets required. Seating is first come, first served. For information, call (212) 945-0505 or click www.worldfinancialcenter.com.