When Jerry Garcia died 23 years ago The Grateful Dead as a band came to end. Since 1995, surviving Grateful Dead members Bob Weir (Guitar, Vocals), Phil Lesh (Bass, Vocals), Mickey Hart (Drums), and Bill Kreutzmann (Drums) moved on to other bands like RatDog, Furthur, Rhythm Devils, The Dead, and Phil Lesh & Friends. To celebrate the bands 50th anniversary which was also 20 years since Garcia’s passing; Weir, Lesh, Kreutzmann, and Hart reunited for 5 shows between Soldier Field in Chicago and Levi Stadium in Santa Clara, CA. These shows known as “Fare Thee Well,” seemed to be the end of an era, but led to the start of a new group with Grateful Dead members towards the end of 2015. The new group known as Dead and Company includes Weir, Hart, Kreutzmann with John Mayer (Guitar, Vocals), former Allman Brothers bassist Oteil Burbridge and keyboardist Jeff Chimenti who has been a member of RatDog, The Dead, Furthur as well as the Fare Thee Well shows.
What started as an arena tour in 2015 became an outdoor amphitheater tour in 2016 and by 2017, Dead & Co. played outdoor amphitheaters, arenas, and baseball stadiums. The 2018 summer tour started May 30th and ended July 14th. On July 7th Dead & Co. stopped at Dodger Stadium for one very special show. Like any Grateful Dead concert, there was a Shakedown Street in the parking lot not too long after gates to the parking lot opened including vendors from all over the U.S. selling homemade Dead merchandise, and various other items. For what started off as one of the hottest days in L.A. so far this summer became a very memorable evening. Once Dead and Co. took the stage the unbearable heat had finally gone down. All Dead and Co. shows included 2 sets which change every single show where it seems rare to even hear the same song played 2 nights in a row.
After seeing John Mayer solo and with Dead & Co. and it’s easy to see why he’s today’s guitar legend. For me personally, it’s nice to see that Mayer sounds like himself when singing Garcia’s vocals, but when the band harmonizes it sounds just like the Grateful Dead. Set 1 started with “Playin’ In The Band,” followed by another popular song “Bertha.” Set 1 ended with “Deal.” After an intermission Dead & Co. picked up with a personal favorite “Sugar Magnolia,” and another two I was happy to see them play “Fire On The Mountain,” and “Eyes of the World.” As always there was Hart Kreutzmann’s traditional solo Drums/Space which was extraordinary to see at a stadium. The encore consisted of “Brokedown Palace,” and not “Fade Away.”
For over 5 decades the Grateful Dead has had new generations of fans as well as having a major following which you can see to this day based on the size of venues they’re playing each night. There are still two more chances to see Dead & Co. this summer which are on August 25th and 26th at the Lockn’ Festival in Arrington, VA.