New Life for the Dead
Keys to the Dead
Besides the addition of Joan Osborne, the other noticeable change on the summer tour will be that keyboardists Jeff Chimenti and Rob Barraco will likely alternate on many songs rather than having them both play all the time. “It was getting a little cluttered up there sometimes,” Lesh comments.
Alternating, playing together—either is fine with Chimenti, a soft-spoken guy who insists he’s “a band guy and will do whatever they want me to. I’ve had a great time playing in this band. I’m honored to be there.”
Chimenti comes from the jazz world and had little exposure to Dead music before saxophonist Dave Ellis introduced him to Weir and he was asked to join RatDog. “It definitely took some adjustment playing Bob’s music and understanding how he works. But he’s got a method to his madness and it really makes sense when you look at it closely. Obviously working with RatDog was a good prep for working with the Dead,” where he says he’s happy being a sideman. “I’ve done that most of my life and I do a pretty good job at it.”
Barraco’s experience is considerably different. He’s been a huge Dead fan since first seeing the group in 1972. He played in Dead cover bands, and, after stints as a jazz pianist and musician for The Cosby Show and other programs, joined the Zen Tricksters—a band that built it’s considerable rep playing Dead tunes—for 12 years. That was his entrée into Phil & Friends (which came, ironically, at a point when he’d tired of playing so much Dead music) and, last year, into the Dead.
Initially he admits to being slightly star-struck: “Phil was my hero. He was always the guy for me in the Dead, though I loved all of them. So getting the call from him was like, ‘Oh my God? Is this really happening? This is so cool.’ And when I actually started playing with him, it hit me how different it was to actually be in the moment with him, as opposed to listening to him. It was totally different; disconcerting even. You’ve gotta just hang on and expect the unexpected cause he’s gonna throw some weird shit your way!” he laughs.
Phil & Friends “turned out to be exactly what I was looking for, because it fed a part of me that I felt was missing, which was the idea of really going out on a limb, especially the band with Warren and Jimmy.”
His experience with The Dead has been similarly satisfying. “You get up there with Mickey and Billy and Bobby and Phil and you’re in the middle of this amazing thing that feels completely different than Phil & Friends and is awesome in a totally different way. There was a defining moment for me at Alpine last year when we were doing ‘Playing in the Band.’ When I’m playing, I’m concentrating really hard and trying to be in the moment. I try not to let myself wander. But there was a time when I came out of myself for a moment and the music just took my breath away, it was so powerful. That this group of guys could create this… it was a different energy I’d ever felt before. And a different energy than I’d felt from listening to them or seeing them do it. To be on that stage with them, in it—WHOO! Incredible. Unbelievable. So then, of course, I wanted more,” he says, laughing again.
Going Gown the Road…
There are a lot of people who want more Dead. “They want it, and we’re gonna give it to ‘em,” Mickey says, now speeding through Northern Marin. “There’s a whole new world of kids coming up that want to feel it, that want to experience what we have to offer. We gotta grab those kids. We know we have to earn our audience back, really show ‘em something. We’re going to go out and recruit, Head by Head. That’s what we’ve always done. Now we just have to work a little harder.”
Dame shares a song from her new EP Preventions of Heartbreak.
Golden Bloom stopped by Relix to perform a tune from their latest EP No Day Like Today.
The Chapin Sisters share an tune from their new album A Date With the Everly Brothers.
Minneapolis-based Night Moves share a song from their record, Colored Emotions, live at Relix.
Cloud Cult share a song from their latest album live at Relix.
The Giving Tree Band enjoy a spring day on the Relix rooftop, while performing a classic Grateful Dead tune.
Canadian singer-songwriter Hayden performs a duet with his sister-in-law Lou Canon. The song appears on Us Alone his first record on Broken Social Scene’s Arts & Crafts Productions.
The Milk Carton Kids share the first song from their new album, The Ash & Clay.
Here is the new video from Serbian guitar ace Ana Popovic. “Object Of Obsession” appears on her latest album Can You Stand The Heat.
Ron Sexsmith visits the Relix office to perform a tune from his latest record Forever Endeavor.
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