Grateful Dead at the Rock Hall: A Report
Pressed for specifics, Kramer pointed to the Dead’s pre-history. “We have Pigpen’s first guitar when he was a child. We have a handbill from Mother McCree’s Uptown Jug Champions at the Tangent in Palo Alto from May of 1964. We also have a handbill for this organization in Santa Cruz that presented folk music. It has all these performers like Jerry Kaukonen who, of course, is Jorma Kaukonen and David Landau who is David Frieberg of Quicksilver [Messenger Service]. And then there’s two little squares on the side of this flyer. One says “Guitar lessons”, one says “Banjo lessons” and on both of them it says “Jerry Garcia” and his phone number. Those are both ’64.”
As a ‘music geek’, he’s most pleased at the opportunity to display the transformation of a song’s lyrics from early in its incarnation to what was finally recorded and then sung at a myriad of live concerts.
“The lyric manuscripts that they still have were pretty intense. The “Truckin’” manuscript is crazy because there’s a lot of work that went into that. You see the work that went into it on the page.”
The Rock Hall had previously exhibited a different set of “Truckin’” lyrics that were once Robert Hunter’s, and featured an entire typed verse that was crossed out.
“That’s what separates bad artists from great artists. Self-editing. A difficult, difficult process. That’s why most artists are very bad producers of their own records. They need an editor.”
Rather than go deep into the Dead’s catalog, Kramer picked one of the band’s most commercial numbers specifically because it’s so well-known. “I want things to have resonance. If you’re gonna be an obscurist you’re not going to be doing any service to the visitor, to the artist, to the fan experience.
“My job is to create exhibits and be able to tell a truthful, honest story. And that’s what my goal is. I’ve done exhibits on a number of artists who I’m not particularly fond of, but I don’t think you could ever tell. I’m not going to be snarky about it in the exhibit. That’s not my place. My job is to represent them in the best possible way historically.”
Just like the motto that a Grateful Dead show was a place full of friends you haven’t met yet, his intention was to create an exhibit that could be embraced by everyone from longtime Deadheads to those with only a vague knowledge of the group’s lasting and influential musical legacy.
“Even if you’re not a fan of the Grateful Dead you’re gonna come away with a better idea of what their story is, not a linear story, but their whole zen.”
In honor of Umphrey’s McGee’s return to Summer Camp this weekend, we present the group’s Brendan Bayliss and Jake Cinninger performing this version of “The Pequod” from UM’s Anchor Drops.
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.
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