Grateful Dead

Behind the Dead Symphony: A Look at Lee Johnson's Great Opus

For classical composer Lee Johnson, tackling the work of the Grateful Dead was like discovering the musical foundations of a new foreign country. Johnson is known for his concert pieces, choral works, short operas and musicals, planetarium soundtracks, and solo/ensemble pieces that cross into jazz and big band music.

Joby Goob's Retro Reviews (7.29.1988, Laguna Seca)

Today's review is a show readily available for download at the Live Music Archive, 7/29/88, at the Laguna Seca Raceway in Monterey California. This was the first of a three show run at Laguna Seca, and in my opinion the best of the three. I chose this show mainly because of the extremely high quality of the recording currently available at the LMA. It sounds to me to be a mislabelled soundboard or soundboard/audience matrix recording, but I suppose it's possible that its just a phenomenal audience recording.

Grateful Dead - Road Trips: Volume One, Number Three

Staggering gas prices curtailing your travel plans? Avoid the pinch and let Road Trips transport you far and wide while safely parked with your favorite listening device. Our latest 2-disc installment takes us to the magical Summer of '71 with stops in New Haven, Chicago and, for a limited time, sunny Southern California. All in brilliant HDCD and all for the same low $19.98.

World Premiere of Dead Symphony, August 1st, in Baltimore

Dead Symphony- for the Grateful Web

The Baltimore Symphony Orchestra will delve into the psychedelic world of The Grateful Dead on what would have been Jerry Garcia's 66th birthday, Friday, August 1 at the Joseph Meyerhoff Symphony Hall with the world premiere performance of Lee Johnson's Dead Symphony No. 6. More than 10 years in the making, Dead Symphony No. 6 is the first orchestral tribute to The Grateful Dead ever composed. For this one-night-only performance, the lobby will transform into a counterculture museum featuring Grateful Dead memorabilia and other rock 'n' roll gems from the 1960s and 1970s. Rare Grateful Dead photographs by Baltimore native Amalie Rothschild—house photographer for the legendary concert hall Fillmore East in NYC - will also be auctioned online and in the lobby the night of the performance with all proceeds benefiting the BSO. See below for complete program information.

Known not only as counterculture icons, but also for their original musicianship, the group stands alone in its embrace of genres as diverse as gospel, funk, jazz, blues and psychedelic rock—complex musical forms which lend themselves to symphonic settings. With a following of "Deadheads" in the hundreds of thousands even today, the legendary music of The Grateful Dead lives on with countless cover bands and live recordings. The BSO is the first major orchestra to dedicate an entire concert to The Grateful Dead's legendary music. The BSO's premiere of Dead Symphony No. 6 will also celebrate the 66th birthday of Jerry Garcia, the late lead guitarist and iconic member of The Grateful Dead.

Dead Symphony No. 6—the No. 6 signifies that it is Johnson's Sixth Symphony—dedicates separate movements to Grateful Dead hits "Saint Stephen," "Here Comes Sunshine," "Mountains of the Moon," "Blues for Allah," "Sugar Magnolia," "To Lay Me Down," "If I Had the World to Give," "Stella Blue," "Bird Songs" and "China Doll." The work also features a symphonic jam session during "Stella Blue." In keeping with The Dead's performance style, Pro Video Group of Baltimore will recreate a psychedelic video display behind the orchestra during this performance.

Work began on the symphony in 1995, shortly after Jerry Garcia's death, when record producer and Deadhead Mike Adams contacted Johnson with the idea for the symphony. "I wasn't a Deadhead at the time, so I had to start at the beginning," Johnson said. "I bought everything The Dead had published and became a student of their art. I would finish a movement or two and gather up those that loved The Grateful Dead and see what happened when I played it for them. Their honest reactions told me everything. Tears, smiles, closed eyes and sometimes dancing. Any new movement that didn't create a genuine vibe in the listening room went away for good."

The culmination of Johnson's hard work paid off in 2007 when the Russian National Orchestra recorded and released Dead Symphony No. 6. The August 1st performance will be the first time Dead Symphony No. 6 is performed live.

Lee Johnson, composer

Lee Johnson has conducted and recorded with several world-class orchestras including the Russian National Orchestra, London Symphony Orchestra, Taliesin Orchestra, London Session Orchestra, American Rock Orchestra and Cyberlin Philharmonia. During his career, he has composed six symphonies, four musicals, two operas and numerous chamber works, concerti, choral and vocal works. He has also composed music for ballet, theater, feature and experimental film and hundreds of works for multimedia and interactive technologies.

Among his numerous accolades for original compositions, Mr. Johnson has received an Emmy Award (1991, "It May Not Be Tara"), was named Georgia Artist of the Year (1995) and has won ASCAP (1993) and ADDY (1996) awards. Mr. Johnson is currently a full-time Callaway Professor of Music Chair at LaGrange College in Georgia.

About the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra

The Baltimore Symphony Orchestra (BSO) is internationally recognized as having achieved a preeminent place among the world's most important orchestras. Acclaimed for its uncompromising pursuit of artistic excellence, the Baltimore Symphony has attracted a devoted national and international following while maintaining deep bonds throughout Maryland through innovative education and community outreach initiatives.

The Baltimore Symphony made musical history in September 2007, when Maestra Marin Alsop led her inaugural concerts as the Orchestra's 12th music director, making her the first woman to head a major American orchestra. With her highly praised artistic vision, her dynamic musicianship and her commitment to accessibility in orchestral music, Maestra Alsop's directorship has ushered in a new era for the BSO and its audiences.

Each season the BSO plays host to some of the world's most renowned talents, including violinists Hilary Hahn and Joshua Bell, and cellist Yo-Yo Ma. In addition to its year-round classical programming, the BSO has been praised for its popular concerts. In recent years, the BSO has performed with artists such as Elvis Costello, Alison Krauss, Ben Folds and The Decemberists. For more information about the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, visit BSOmusic.org.

COMPLETE PROGRAM INFORMATION

Dead Symphony: A Symphonic Tribute to the Grateful Dead

Friday, August 1, 2008 at 8:00 p.m. — Joseph Meyerhoff Symphony Hall

Lee Johnson: Dead Symphony No. 6 (WORLD PREMIERE PERFORMANCE)

Special anniversary pricing at the Joseph Meyerhoff Symphony Hall is made possible by generous underwriting from the PNC Foundation.

Media sponsorship is provided by WBAL 1090AM.

Tickets for this program range from $20 to $60 and are available through the BSO Ticket Office, 410.783.8000, 877.BSO.1444 or BSOmusic.org.

Emory Joseph presents 'Fennario – Songs By Jerry Garcia & Robert Hunter'

Jer- for the Grateful Web

NYC singer/songwriter Emory Joseph pays tribute to the songwriting team of Jerry Garcia and Robert Hunter, the principal songwriters for the Grateful Dead, with his upcoming release, Fennario - Songs by Jerry Garcia and Robert Hunter (street date August 19 on Iris Records).  At the time of Garcia's passing, the Grateful Dead had been together for 30 years and were the highest-grossing touring act in the world. For Fennario, Joseph carefully selected and recorded material that had never been released on studio albums and re-interpreted some of the best-loved Garcia/Hunter material.

The wide range of music on Fennario draws from the same American palette that inspired Garcia and Hunter, from the sweet country of "It Must Have Been the Roses" to the Memphis rock and roll of "Tennessee Jed" to the Muscle Shoals soul of "Sugaree."

To produce the album, Joseph enlisted the core group of top-shelf multi-instrumentalists he'd used on his critically acclaimed debut album, Labor & Spirits: Tom "T-Bone" Wolk (Hall and Oates, The SNL Band), Duke Levine and Jon Carroll (Mary Chapin Carpenter), and vocalist Soozie Tyrell (The E-Street Band).  The album's other principles are Larry Campbell (who was coming off eight years touring with Bob Dylan and who now plays with the Dead's Phil Lesh), and drummer Dennis McDermott (Marc Cohn). Fennario's twelve tracks were recorded in five 'round-the-clock days at New York's legendary Legacy Recording Studios. There are two guest performances, bassist Lincoln Schleiffer (on "Mission in the Rain") and long-time Garcia associate, mandolinist David Grisman (on "Brown-Eyed Women").

"I produced Fennario to be something that Deadheads and non-Deadheads alike could love." says Joseph.  "I absolutely wanted it to be a respectful tribute to a beautiful working partnership, and something that could maybe help to explain to the world why so many kids spent so many years of their youth following these songs around the country and back. Fennario is a long overdue letter to Jerry Garcia and Robert Hunter for having written songs that have inspired, amazed, and informed me since I was twelve."

Track listing:

1.       Sugaree

2.       Ramble On Rose

3.       Tennessee Jed

4.       Black Peter

5.       Mission in The Rain

6.       It Must Have Been the Roses

7.       Loose Lucy

8.       New Speedway Boogie

9.       Brown-Eyed Women

10.      Loser

11.      Bird Song

12.      To Lay Me Down

Keller Williams Releases REX

Guitarist/singer/songwriter Keller Williams offers up a live, digital-only release titled REX (Live at the Fillmore).  The recording captures a very special live performance by Grateful Grass - a project featuring Williams, Keith Moseley (The String Cheese Incident), and Jeff Austin (Yonder Mountain String Band) - performing not-so-traditional bluegrass versions of Grateful Dead favorites.  The collection, recorded February 8, 2006 at D

Bob Weir and Ratdog at The Beacon Theater

Someone turned over a large rock and roll subculture over the past three night run at "The Beacon Theater", as "Deadheads", "hippies", and "throwbacks", have resurfaced to see "Bob Weir and Ratdog".  No other band in bluegrass, blues, country, folk, reggae, or rock and roll history, has woven such a distinct counterculture and sense of community, other than "The Grateful Dead", and the bands offshoots.  Known to "Deadheads" as "The Dead", the band's inception began in 1965 in San Francisco, California, from a jugband known as "The Warlocks".

Ratdog Photos from the Beacon Theater (4.5.2008)

Bobby and Ratdog played the Beacon Theater in New York City the past three nights.  One of our writers, Sharon Abella, was on hand and snapped some photos of the show.  Check back soon for her write-up from the night. And a special thank you to Dennis McNally for his wonderful hospitality.

Enjoy,

The Grateful Web