If you didn’t score tickets to see the Fare Thee Well shows celebrating the Grateful Dead’s 50th anniversary, there are still many ways you can get in on the action.
Locally, you can head over to the Putnam Den on Sunday, July 5, for a streaming party, where a video projection of the live concert will be shown outside the venue. The event is free and open to anyone ages 21 and up. It is set for an 8 p.m. start time.
In 1965, Jerry Garcia, Bob Weir, Ron “Pigpen” McKernan, Phil Lesh and Bill Kreutzmann set out on a musical exploration that would go on to span 30 years and is clearly still alive and kicking today. Today, Lesh, Weir, Kreutzmann and Mickey Hart are known as the Dead’s Core Four, and they’re playing a total of five concerts (two in California last weekend, three in Chicago this weekend) with an all-star cast of supporting musicians. Phish guitarist Trey Anastasio is taking on the hefty lead guitar duties, while Bruce Hornsby and Jeff Chimenti are handling piano and keyboard.
The Grateful Dead have a long history with the greater Capital Region, as they have played in Albany many times. On June 27, 1985, the Dead brought the largest crowd in SPAC’s history, when 40,231 people packed the venue. Because of that concert, SPAC was forced to institute a capacity limit of 25,100. Fans of the Dead were and are notorious for seeing many nights in a row of the band.
If the first two shows from California were any indication, those heading to Chicago are in for a massive treat. On June 27, the band took the stage to a huge roar, settling into a short jam on Weir’s jam vehicle “The Other One,” before the familiar opening lick to the timeless “Truckin’ ” started. And with that, the end of a long, strange trip began in grand fashion, with Anastasio dutifully nailing every note, from the poignant sounds of “Morning Dew” on through the next night’s rollicking set two closer, “Sugar Magnolia.”
If you’re a fan of music in general, you should witness this history. It’s also highly symbolic that two of the biggest touring bands in the history of rock and roll have merged to pay homage to the Dead and their larger-than-life front man, Garcia. For jam band fans, and music lovers in general, these are the biggest events in years.
But if you cannot make it, go to the Putnam Den and shake your bones with all of your like-minded friends, have a few beers and enjoy the same atmosphere that lingered in the air for 30 years of Grateful Dead concerts.
If there’s one thing this band has taught us, it’s that the music really never stops.