Before the Dead is by no means an ordinary musical release. This collection of early, and quite-remarkable-they-exist-at-all recordings is a phenomenal delight for many reasons, ones so obvious to any Deadhead I will pay you the respect of not listing them. And yes, the many reasons for which we have all been eagerly awaiting this release are exciting enough within themselves, yet it is the overall palpable essence and holistic sensation that arose in the listening that snuck up on me, as if falling down a rabbit hole, where the history of Jerry and the Grateful Dead becomes the story of how each of us, and all of us, have become who we are. Jerry will never be more accessible than he is here—he is Jerry before he is JERRY; he is a friend sitting in our living room playing music; we are down at the coffeehouse together, meeting up with other friends, slurping joe and jammin’ on the scene.
The Dead Funk Summit is a culmination of everything Joe Marcinek has done with the Joe Marcinek Band. It started with a concept of a different lineup every weekend using players from all over the country. This led to meeting and playing with prominent members of the Grateful Dead world and the New Orleans Funk scene. It sparked a dream Joe had of bringing together George Porter Jr and Melvin Seals. This historic summit of the two worlds will be the first time the two have shared the stage!
About Melvin Seals:
On May 11th, Round Records will release its most ambitious project to date with the long-awaited Jerry Garcia boxed set Before The Dead. The project features a meticulously researched and curated compilation of recordings the iconic Grateful Dead founder made prior to forming the legendary band. Before The Dead includes never before heard performances, recordings that have never been commercially released and a small selection that have.
“This is one the most thrilling albums the Grateful Dead ever produced, mixing portions of live recordings from the first six months of Mickey's tenure with the band, along with studio experimentations that would hint at where the Dead would go when they started recording to 16-track tape the following year. The 1971 remix, produced in order to make the album more accessible to the newer fans who were brought on board with WORKINGMAN'S DEAD and AMERICAN BEAUTY, has been the most commonly heard version for the past 45+ years.
Something really remarkable happened at the Fare Thee Well shows in 2015. Instead of being a goodbye, it was a re-ignition, a passing of the torch in some ways. Although Jerry was always quick to point out that it was Dead Heads who created themselves, the phenomenon of Dead Head-ism was focused on the band for the first 30 years. And it was fairly fractured for the next twenty, with some liking some iterations, and others, not. And the musicians aren’t done, whether it’s Dead & Co. or Phil and Bobby’s recent duo, or the future outings of Billy and Mickey.
There is something about the energy created by people coming together to hear the music of Jerry Garcia and the Grateful Dead. The first time I experienced this seemingly human-powered electricity was a few days before my 18th birthday, in 1994, in a parking lot near what was then the Boston Garden. When Jerry died the following summer, I found myself in a park sitting in a circle around a singular candle that seemed to burn for hours.