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Dead Symphony #6 Down South

Southern Deadheads have a special opportunity coming up.  On October 5th, the Lagrange (Georgia) Symphony will perform Lee Johnson’s “Dead Symphony #6.”  As the Dead’s publicist and biographer, I flinched a little when I first heard of the idea of a symphonic take on the Dead; I feared “Dead with strings.”  That’s emphatically not Lee Johnson’s Dead Symphony.  Lee had a Deadhead friend, of course (doesn’t everybody?), who initiated him into the cult.  He really got the Dead’s music, which is of course rooted in improvisation.  Since having a 75 piece symphony improvise is….a bad idea, he did the improvising himself in the score, and the result is a take on familiar melodies, with variations, and not a simple new coat of strings.

The CD was much admired, and the live performances, first at the Baltimore Symphony, and more recently at the California Symphony (Walnut Creek, California) and Cabrillo Festival (Santa Cruz, California), have been knock-outs.

Now Lee’s taken the score and given it a final tune-up, so that what will be performed in Lagrange will be the final version.  And Lee will be in the cello section.

Lagrange is going to find itself in a slightly altered state on October 5th – check it out!  

For more information or to purchase tickets, click here.   And be sure to check out Grateful Web's review of Dead Symphony #6.

Martin Sexton & The Ryan Montbleau Band | 5/20

My Morning Jacket Hit The Road With The Preservation Hall Jazz Band

It’s been almost a full year, but the wait is finally over.  My Morning Jacket are ready to bring their electrifying live show back on the road.  The guys will make their way around the Southeastern United States this Spring, including a performance at this year’s Jazzfest in New Orleans.  MMJ are also excited to both try something new with their choice for an opening act, and bring some of the spirit of NOLA along with them.  The band is honored that the historic Preservation Hall Jazz Band will be supporting them on the run.

The connection with the PHJB originated in the Spring of 2009 when MMJ frontman Jim James was invited to sing with them at their home turf, New Orleans’ legendary Preservation HallJames recorded two songs with the band: “St. James Infirmary” and “Louisiana Fairytale.”  The tracks will appear on the bands forthcoming album,  PRESERVATION: An Album To Benefit Preservation Hall & The Preservation Hall Music Outreach Program, out February 16th.

“When I got the invitation to go to the legendary Preservation Hall – where SO much of the music we now know and love on this earth found its early roots – I did not waste a minute,”  James reminisces.  “Getting to sing while the guys played with such glorious bursts of sound – all live in that holy room with the ghosts and garbage trucks crankin’ along – was an experience I’ll never forget.”

The PHJB’s leader Ben Jaffe shares his memory of playing with James: “I couldn’t have imagined Jim fitting in any better with the guys at Preservation Hall.  Creating music is not a science.  There is no tried and true formula.  There is an unspoken bond amongst musicians.  One that exists in the notes we choose.  Jim’s like our long lost cousin coming home for the first time.”

MMJ Tour Dates With The Preservation Hall Jazz Band:

04/20:  Birmingham, AL @ Alabama Theater

04/21:  Nashville, TN @ Municipal Auditorium

04/23:  Atlanta, GA @ Chastain Park

04/24:  New Orleans, LA @ Jazzfest

04/27:  St. Augustine, FL @ St. Augustine Amphitheater

04/28:  Charleston, SC @ Family Circle

04/30:  Raleigh, NC @ Koka Booth

05/01:  Columbia, MD @ Merriweather Post Pavilion

05/02:  Columbus, OH @ LC Outdoor Pavilion