April 2, 1997
Dead to the World, on
KPFA 94.1 FM in
[Music: Grateful Dead,
jam from "Wharf Rat" back into "Dark Star," 2/18/71 CapitolTheater, Portchester
David Gans: Well, you asked me to turn you on to
some Grateful Dead music, Phil, and that's about the prettiest passage I
Phil Lesh: Wow. Ah. Ah. When was that
Gans: February 18, 1971, Capitol Theater, Port
Chester, NY. It was coming out of the first "Wharf Rat" ever and back into "Dark
Lesh: Ohhhh. . .
Gans: Pretty stuff.
Lesh: Oh, that's just
Gans: You recognize that voice? That's
Phil Lesh over there, on the other side of the counter here at
Lesh: Aw, that, that -- I'm sorry, that just,
that brought tears to my eyes.
Gans: Well, good. I'm
glad you liked it!
Lesh: Yeah, that's gorgeous. Is
it longer than that? I mean, is there more of it?
Gans: No, that's pretty much it. "Wharf Rat" kinda winds down, and
that's the jam that kicks in; it's about five minutes' worth, and then it's back
to the conclusion of "Dark Star." I've been advocating that night for quite some
time to you guys over there in the Vault, so --
Gans: -- maybe you'll check out
some of the rest of it. First "Bird Song" that night; several firsts that
Lesh: Oh, you bet, you bet. Thank you very
Gans: Oh, good. I'm so glad you liked it,
Lesh: That's gorgeous. Thanks,
Gans: We're here for two hours, and Phil
brought in some interesting music, and I brought in some interesting music that
features Phil, and we've got some things to talk to you about. We're going to
take some phone calls a little later on - don't call in now -- and I think you
probably will emerge from this next two hours somewhat enlightened, vastly
amused, and two hours older.
Lesh: We can guarantee
Gans: And that's *all* we're willing to
promise, really. So what's goin' on, Phil? How ya been?
Lesh: Well, pretty good. Hangin' out with my kids a lot. Today they
played basketball, for hours. Bompita, bomp bumpida, buh bomp bomp, unhh
g'*dang*, boo bampida bamp bamp bedee bamp bamp bamp g'*dang*, umpida gamp. .
Gans: Mm-hm. Is the hoop on the house, so you hear
Lesh: Well, no, it's one of those portable
ones on wheels. You pour water in the base, and it sits in the driveway, and
they just go back and forth and around and around.
They both play piano, too, though.
Yes, I heard Grahame playing piano at the Christmas party; it was a lot of
Lesh: Yeah, his specialty last year was "Silent
Night," and he plays it really beautifully, with a lot of feeling. And just
since then, he's gotten so deeply into it that he now protests when he's told
there's not enough time to practice today.
Lesh: Can you imagine that? "But I *wanted* to
practice." So, it's just really -- it's wonderful. He'll go to the piano now and
just play spontaneously.
Gans: Does he make stuff
Lesh: He's coming to that. He's coming to that.
He actually -- there's a little class that he has once a week in school where
they're given a melody, and they're asked to harmonize it.
Gans: And Brian plays piano, too?
he does, and he's getting ready to graduate from Book Two of the Suzuki Method,
and he's doing wonderfully also.
Gans: Do they
contend with each other over the piano?
Lesh: No, we
have two. I have one up in my studio, and so they switch.
Gans: That's great, great. Well, one of the things we want to talk about
tonight is this event that we're cooking up, that sort of has its origins in
that Christmas party.
Lesh: That's right. Well, it
actually goes back before the Christmas party. My kids have been in a [private]
school, and there's a lot of -- in the parent meetings, and in various other
activities that go along with being a parent at this school, you end up singing
along with one another, in kind of a very casual, friendly context. And very few
people are singers, but the feeling of it, that you get from singing well-known
songs, or even songs that you just learn for the first time at that point, it
really gives you a wonderful feeling of community.
And so we've started doing that at our Christmas parties, and at various
other events. We sing a little song before we eat, a little blessing before we
eat, and it's really -- we're thanking the Lord and the Earth for the food that
we eat, and it really brings you together in a profound kind of way. And so,
Jill and I were talking, and we thought it'd be a good idea to try to extend
this kind of feeling to the Deadheads, because along the road, the last 30
years, it's been proven so many times that the Deadheads are the people who play
Gans: Well, your music's been bringing us
together in song for a long time.
Lesh: And the
input that we always got from Deadheads, at the moment of making the music, was
always a factor. There was always so much encouragement, to just really take it
and run with it, from Deadheads. And we were thinking that it'd be a wonderful
idea to have a get-together in some place that's large enough to hold a good
number of people, and expand this kind of idea into kind of a sing-along, where
the Deadheads would sing along with me and some other friends that I'd ask to
come and join us in this event. We would sing well-known songs, Christmas
carols, rounds -- rounds are so much fun, and they are so profound, to work with
other people in a large group. To sing a simple round is truly an enlightening
experience. Because once you get to the point where you know what *you're*
singing, then you can relax and you can listen to all the other parts. And
you're part of it. And you're generating this whole thing, which is related,
everything is related. You're all singing the same melody, only you're starting
in different places; you're starting at different times.
I've wanted to do some kind of a benefit performance; I didn't want to
get a band together, or do anything like that, because, you know, the Grateful
Dead was my band and I don't really want to do that sort of thing, but this kind
of thing -- having a sing-along, and doing a benefit for some kind of
organizations in the Bay Area that help bring creative nourishment to people who
wouldn't ordinarily have that in their lives. We call it "Food for the Soul."
And it's not going to be a performance; the audience as I say is going to be
singing along with me and my friends. I'm going to invite some other musicians
to come along and help lead the singing, and the audience is going to be the
band in this one. We're hoping to have it in December, somewhere in San
Francisco, and hopefully we can get it together to do all
Gans: Sounds like fun. And that thing of being
part of something that's bigger than you and just the people in front of you is
great. I remember you told me once a long time ago, when you started playing in
the big band in college, that feeling you got when you walked in with a section
and there's nothing quite like it when the band hits a groove, and when a room
full of people hit a groove together. It's a big thing.
Lesh: It could awe-inspiring.
So block out the month of December, folks, and we'll tell you exactly what day
and where it's going to be, a little later on in the year.
Lesh: And you're all invited, or as many of you as we can cram into this
place, wherever it's going to be.
Gans: And it's
going to be a lot of fun, *and* we'll see what kind of good we can do for some
people who could use a little help.
in the realm of bringing an opportunity to do something creative to people, as I
said, who wouldn't ordinarily have that opportunity. I think that's very
Gans: One of the things that I brought in
for us to listen to this evening is a performance that you and some of your
bandmates did with the San Francisco Symphony last year.
The Friday and Saturday programs were that long John Cage thing ["Renga
with Apartment House"], but on Sunday, you guys got together with Michael Tilson
Thomas. Let's talk about that a little bit.
Well, that was the second program in Michael's "American Festival," and it was a
marathon performance. It started, I think, at 2:30 in the afternoon and went
till about 8:00, and it was a program of mostly short pieces, by local -- well,
international, but centered around local/East Bay/West Coast/California maverick
composers who weren't really considered part of the so-called mainstream. Lou
Harrison was one of them, Varese was another, Steve Reich.... Meredith Monk
performed, and there were several piano pieces performed that were written by
Henry Cowell, who was, in a way, the sort of patriarch of this whole West Coast
experimental scene. He was writing outrageous tone-cluster music at age 17 in
the early part of this century, in the 'teens and '20s.
At the end of it, Mickey, Bob, Vince, myself, and Michael Tilson Thomas
collaborated on a group improvisation, which was based on themes that Henry
Cowell had composed, and that had been heard earlier in the program as part of
the regular performance. This was a great deal of fun to do, especially to watch
Michael really cut loose. I don't think he gets a chance to cut loose, playing
the piano, very often.
Gans: Tell us a little about
Michael Tilson Thomas. He's new-ish to the San Francisco Symphony
Lesh: Yeah, he's been the music director here now
for -- this is the end of his second season coming up. And he's been a guest
conductor here many times, through the '80s and early '90s. In a way, he's a
protege of Leonard Bernstein; he was involved with the Tanglewood conductor's
course, back in the late '60s, early '70s. He grew up in the San Fernando
Valley, and he comes from a long line of performers and artists who I think are
originally Russian. Their name was Tomashevsky, originally. He's been conducting
all over the world for 25, 30 years, and he really brings a considerable amount
of flair and panache to the San Francisco Symphony, which was, in my opinion,
sorely in need of the same. The music director previous to Michael, Herbert
Blomstedt, was an extremely competent and well-versed conductor, especially with
the meat-and-potatoes Central European repertoire. That was his forte, and that
was what was performed most often during his tenure, although there was a lot of
contemporary music as well, to Herbert's credit.
Michael now has -- in his first season, for instance, in every concert that he
conducted there was an American piece performed, which means essentially
contemporary music, because most American concert music dates from, at the
earliest, the end of the 19th century. Michael is the kind of guy who has
rhythm; he has rock'n'roll in his soul, whether he really plays it or not. And I
think you'll hear that in this performance. I have certainly been enlightened by
his interpretations of classic works from the late 19th century/early 20th
century, because of this groove that he's able to elicit from an
Gans: So what we'll hear now is Michael
Tilson Thomas introducing the piece and making reference to the Henry Cowell
piece that had just been heard, and then it'll be Phil, Bobby, Mickey, and
Vince, jammin' with MTT. And this was recorded at the Davies Symphony Hall in
San Francisco on June 16, 1996, and it has taken us this long to get it out, in
digits, get permission to play it, get you in here to talk about it, and here it
is, folks. Thanks for waiting.
[Music: Michael Tilson Thomas, Phil Lesh, Bob Weir,
Mickey Hart, and Vince Welnick, "Space, for Henry Cowell,"
Gans: Phil, you brought in a piece of music by
a fellow I've never heard of, named Colin Matthews.
Lesh: Right, he's a British composer, based in London. One of the things
that he also does, besides being a composer, is he's the musical executor of the
Benjamin Britten estate, and also the director of the Holst Foundation, which
are two large organizations that exist to promote new music in Britain. But he's
also a very fine composer, and this piece is really interesting to me. I'd heard
a tape of it a while back, before it was recorded on CD, and it struck me that
there was something very familiar about the end, the sort of the finale section
of this piece. I didn't quite pick up on it for a while, but then I realized,
finally, that it reminded me of "Dark Star." There's a melodic phrase:
<singing> la-a-a da da da-a -- which recurs over and over again, at the
end of this piece, and the harmony is very similar to "Dark
So, in the course of events, I had an
opportunity to come in contact with Colin Matthews, through the Rex Foundation
sponsoring recordings of various music that was being recorded over there. I
mentioned that to him, and he said, "This is not a coincidence, because I spent
the latter part of the '60s immersed in "Live/Dead." And he said that his
favorite part was the transition from "Dark Star" into "St. Stephen." And so I
really thought that it'd be interesting to play this piece, for all you
Deadheads out there, so you can hear how another kind of musician relates to the
music we were playing back then.
Gans: This is the
Fourth Sonata, by Colin Matthews, and it's 25 minutes in
Lesh: And worth every minute of your
Gans: Cool. So just set yourselves down
in front of the speakers, and take one more puff, and enjoy
Lesh: Turn the lights down low and the sound
Gans: There ya go. Talk to ya in a
[Music: Fourth Sonata, by
Colin Matthews. London Sonfonietta, Oliver Knussen, cond. (Deutsche Grammophon
Gans: The name
of this program is Dead to the World, my name is David Gans, and with me here in
the studio is Phil Lesh, Grateful Dead -- actually, I remember a meeting not
long ago when you introduced yourself as an unemployed musician.
Lesh: <laugh> Well, that's
essentially what I am.
Gans: But you are working on
Lesh: Yeah, yeah. I can't stay away from
music for long, but, you know, I really enjoy sitting in with friends when they
come into town, and hopefully we'll be able to play a little something later on
tonight where, for instance, Bruce Hornsby came to town and Bob and I sat in
with him, and that was really, really a wonderful
Gans: Yes, it was.
Lesh: But the Grateful Dead was my band, and I don't have any desire to
form a band of my own, or tour with another band, or do anything like that.
Many people out there know that I was trained in
classical music, and I studied composition for many years before joining the
band. One of the things that I'm doing now is composing a song symphony that's
based on Grateful Dead song themes -- the melodies of the songs, chord
progressions, rhythmic riffs; I'm going to weave them all together into a
seven-movement, 45-minute composition, which I'm working on now. Hopefully I'll
have it done by this time next year. And there have been some record companies
that are interested in it, and so hopefully I'll be able to find an orchestra to
play it, and somebody -- maybe I can conduct it myself. I'm going to try and
write myself into it. There might be a part where there'll be two conductors
In a way, it's my way of dealing with,
finding closure with Grateful Dead music, and giving thanks in a way to Jerry
and Bob and all the guys in the band for making up this wonderful music. I want
to take and, you know, interpret in my own way. Of course, in the band, we all
interpreted in our own way simultaneously, so this time I'm just going to do it
all by myself and see what comes out. It's a very exciting project, and I'm
really enjoying doing it. It's so pleasing to be able to just think and write
and just have it come out.
Gans: I'm looking forward
to hearing it. I have here on tape your exploits as a guest conductor with the
Berkeley Symphony from three years ago.
Lesh: Yes, I
remember that. That was a very exciting experience for me, conducting music that
I really, really love: Stravinsky and Elliott Carter.
Gans: I've got the Stravinsky cued up here, so why don't you talk a
little bit about the piece and then we'll listen to it.
Lesh: Well, this is an excerpt. It's not exactly a bleeding chunk,
because it's more or less self-contained, even in the ballet score. It's called
the "Infernal Dance," from "The Firebird," by Stravinsky, and this is the big
scene for the villain. "The Firebird" is a ballet, and this is the scene where
the villain gets to prance around and show everybody how baaaaad he
Gans: You'll hear briefly an introduction by
Jeffrey Shattuck Leiter, who was the acting mayor at the time, and also the
master of ceremonies of this guest conductor evening. I want to add, though,
that it was a fascinating and sort of bizarre night, because you were the only,
like, real musician-like guy. The other conductors were [UC Berkeley] Chancellor
Tien; the elephant mascot from the Oakland A's; the basketball coach from Cal
Lesh: From Cal, at the time, Todd Bozeman; Maxine
Hong Kingston, who did beautifully, I thought.
She did, she was wonderful. And there were several other interesting characters,
Lesh: I can't remember
Gans: Yeah, I don't either <laugh>, but
Lesh: It was three years ago,
Gans: -- but here's Jeffrey Shattuck
Leiter introducing Phil, and then you'll hear Phil conducting the Berkeley
Symphony. This was recorded May 11, 1994.
this, we'll take some phone calls. We would like to hear intelligent questions,
articulate praise, no cranks, please. And --
<laugh> Aw, crank it up if you want to.
Oh, okay. <laugh> Here we go.
[Music: "Infernal Dance," from "The Firebird Suite ,"
by Igor Stravinsky, Berkeley Symphony, Phil Lesh
Gans: Hello, we've got our first
caller on the line. Are you there?
Caller: I wanted
to ask Phil Lesh a question on symphony survival. I'm calling from Davis, near
Sacramento. We recently lost the Sacramento Symphony, just last year, and as a
side note, at the same time, we seem to have been able to, as a city, grant the
Sacramento Kings [NBA basketball team] a $70 million loan --
Caller: -- to stay here
in the city.
Caller: Which is an interesting juxtaposition of the two forms of
culture, and I wonder, from Phil's perspective, what it is that we as a
concerned populace can sort of do about loss of important resources, like that
symphony. I will mention that I did happen to go to Davies Hall and see Phil,
with the rest of the boys, and quite enjoyed it there, and I think you in San
Francisco should consider yourself fortunate that you have such a vital and
lively symphony that you --
Gans: Well, we have a
stadium boondoggle happening here in Oakland and one in San Francisco as well,
but you raise a very interesting question: why is it that football teams get
gigantic municipal bailouts and symphony orchestras can't
Lesh: Well, isn't it a question of
economics? I mean, sports are big, big, big business. And they're always going
to be big business because they're the most popular form of bread and circuses
that exist in our country, and in fact in the whole world. So that's something
that's just a fact of life, I think. What's also an unpleasant fact of life is
that the arts are being devalued, constantly and continually, in this country.
And it's not just in Sacramento -- it goes all the way to the halls of Congress,
as I'm sure you're well aware. I don't have an answer for that. All I can say
is, I'm doing everything I can to promote awareness of art and culture, on every
level that I can, but when you don't have any kind of music education in schools
anymore, then not only do you not have people who can play instruments and
perform and create music, but you don't have people who are aware listeners. And
that goes for drama, and it goes for art, fine art, painting and drawing, and
that goes for any art, any cultural activity. So what it boils down to, in my
humble opinion, is that we need to support the arts in schools, and at every
other level in the education of children.
me ask you one question. Do you vote?
Caller: I do.
Gans: Yeah, I've always done
that, too, and I always found it kind of disturbing that so many of my
counter-culture brethren decided that it wasn't worth it and they were just
empowering the creeps and all that stuff. But you know, politics is all about
marketing to the populace, and once they figured out that many people like us
weren't voting, they stopped pandering to our concerns and started pandering to
the concerns of the people who did show up. And I wonder what would happen if
every Deadhead in the country dropped in again and voted, whether it would
Lesh: That's the one place to
start, as far as I can tell.
Gans: Write your
Congressman. Write your city councilman. Show up at city council meetings.
Lesh: Yeah. Protest.
Gans: Raise hell.
Caller: Thanks for your help, Phil.
Take it easy.
Gans: We've got another caller on the line here. Are you
Caller: Hey, how you
Gans: How are you?
Caller: Pretty good. I'd like to say hi to the both of you, and thanks
to the both of you for bringing us the music. My question goes out to Phil. I'd
like to hear your general insight into the Grateful Dead's music and direction
that kind of happened in the '90s and up until the end. In my opinion, it seemed
like such a breaking ground for the Dead. You know, although I'm young, I like
to think I've listened extensively to all the years, but I kinda was always -- I
couldn't [help thinking] what was happening in the '90s was such a great, great
point; but I've heard Phil comment, [at] various times -- I never really was
sure what your opinion was of the material in the '90s.
Lesh: Well, I'm not sure I understand -- so most of the shows that you
attended and the music you've heard has been from the '90s, is that
Caller: Well, '87 and up.
Caller: But, you know, I tried
to say, I've listened to all of the stuff and I've always loved it, but it's
kind of just a question for your general insight on how you thought the
direction went in the '90s, especially during Vince and Bruce shows. It seemed
like it really was a new, exciting point, and I'd kinda like to hear what you
thought of that.
Lesh: Well, it definitely was, at
that point, because we had two new keyboard players, and there was the potential
for even greater interaction. And many times that did take place, but what I've
said in the past, and my gut feeling, is that it was started to calcify in a
sense. For one thing, we had been doing the same two-set format, where we'd open
up with the first set, [which] was usually just songs by themselves, and kind of
a warm-up set where we'd just feel our way into what was going on, and the vibe,
if you will, of the audience; and then a second set where we would try to
stretch out and really create something new, especially in the transitions
between songs and in the jams that would be part of the songs, and between
And that format was -- we'd been using that
format, I guess, since the late '70s, and it was starting to get very
predictable. In other words, certain songs would surface in the same points in
the set every so often; it was like rotation. And everybody in the band was
aware of that, and we were trying to figure out new ways to do it. Sometimes we
would decide before we went on for the second set that we were going to tell a
story, in the "Space" part, and that all the songs that led up to "Space" would
lead up to that story, and the songs after that would lead away from it. And we
would try all kinds of mental tricks, really, to bring freshness to that part of
the show, and to the format.
But we were really
locked in to that kind of format, and as the '90s wore on, it became for me more
solidified, in that sense that there weren't as many of those magical shows that
were just magic all the way through as there had been in earlier years. And I
think that when you play together for 30 years, there is the potential for that
to happen. And I'm sorry to say that it did feel to me that that was what was
happening in the '90s. Not that there weren't great shows, and not that there
wasn't plenty of fine music played. It's just that the consistency and the
height of where we could take it, with the help of the audience, was less, I
felt, in the '90s. Of course, we didn't survive to play all the way through the
'90s, so I can say that -- as I said, everybody in the band was aware of this,
and we trying to figure out ways to make it different. And there was a movement
afoot to take another year off, and if we had been able to do that, and rethink
everything, I think when we came back it would have been very
Caller: Yeah, the millennium would have
Lesh: Yeah, *very*
Caller: Thanks a lot for your
Lesh: Well, thanks for your question, man.
I'm pleased to be able to address that.
Great. Good night.
Gans: Thanks for calling. Hello, you're on
the air. Keep it clean.
Caller: Hi, it's
Gans: Go ahead.
Lesh: Hi, Jeremy.
Caller: Hi. Um, wow, I'm
kinda tingly being on the air, but I had a question about a specific show,
actually. I'm thinking of the '95 Seattle show, that ended in "Not Fade Away."
And I remember after, when you guys all went off the stage and the drummers were
-- it was just Mickey and Bill, and I remember afterwards, when the crowd was
still clapping, watching Mickey just going nuts, and jumping around, and Billy
came over and gave him a hug, and then at one point I think Mickey was on the
ground, like, stomping on the ground, he was so excited. And I wonder if you
remember that, if you know what it was he was so happy
Lesh: Was this at the very end of the
Caller: Yeah, it was right at the end of the
Lesh: Right after "Not Fade Away," was
Lesh: You know, I'm sorry to say, I don't remember.
Lesh: If I heard the
music, maybe I could figure it out from there.
Lesh: I remember being at the
show, because a lot of my relatives were there <laugh>
-- but, I don't remember what it -- oh, and I also had
Caller: You had
Lesh: Yeah, I had pneumonia
and I just came from the hospital to play that show.
Caller: Wow. I was wondering why you were always -- that whole series,
you were pretty much always the first one off.
Yeah, I was not feeling well at all, to be perfectly honest with
Lesh: But I don't remember why Mickey was so
Caller: Yeah, it seemed like after you guys
went off, they stayed and played drums for a while. And I remember listening,
after they stopped, to the crowd's chanting, and it sounded -- there wasn't like
one solid voice, there were lots of fractures going on.
Lesh: Well, that to me is part of the magic --
Lesh: -- that would happen at
a Grateful Dead show. When the band would leave the stage, and then the audience
would just take over, and keep the groove goin'.
Caller: Yeah, I was --
Lesh: And for all I
know, that groove is still goin' somewhere, and I'll bet it
Caller: It is, yeah.
Lesh: And I like to think of it that way. <singing> You know our
love will not fade away, a-boom bap bap, a-bap bap -- you
Lesh: I mean, that defines it. That defines the experience for me. And I
wish I could give you more details about what was going through Mickey's mind,
Lesh: -- I'll have to ask him.
Lesh: If I -- yes, I will ask him about
that. So, thanks for the turn-on.
yeah, thanks for talking to me.
Lesh: All right, my
Gans: Thanks for
Gans: Hello, you're on the air
with Phil Lesh.
Caller: I have a question for you about the last show the Dead played.
The last song they sang, *you* sang: "Box of Rain."
Caller: The last lines of that
song are pretty haunting, listening to that tape, thinking that was the last
word that would ever come from a Grateful Dead stage.
Lesh: Yes, but we didn't know that at the time.
Caller: Yeah, well, how did you happen to pick that song to
Gans: You sang three songs that night; that
was pretty damn unusual.
Lesh: Yeah, that was
unusual, and the two encores was very unusual.
Lesh: Maybe it was -- I'm trying hard to
remember my state of mind. I think maybe it was, I didn't want the show to end
with "Black Muddy River." I don't know.
Lesh: Maybe that was it.
Caller: Well, thanks for singin' it, man. It was
Lesh: Well, thank you for saying so, man. I
mean, that song means a lot to me; I always try to put everything I can into it
when I sing it.
Caller. Thank you.
Gans: Hello, you're on the air with Phil Lesh.
Caller: Phil, um, I have more of a comment than a question, and it has
to do with our Deer Creek show in '95.
Caller: That was my first time back there; I'm
a California native. And I have a feeling, for you guys on the stage, that you
were relatively disappointed with us, as a group of fans.
Lesh: How so?
Caller: Well, because although
there are many different factions of Deadheads out there, we should have banded
together and tried to prevent that problem.
You know, I don't think there's anything that anybody could have done to prevent
that problem. Because, first of all, we were becoming aware during that tour
that there was a group of people that was following the band around, and they
weren't interested in coming in to the shows, they were just interested in
hangin' out outside and tryin' to break in. It was a thing. It was an adventure
for them. And so, they became -- they were successful in their desire, at that
one place. And we were upset, we were disappointed. I know we wrote a letter
about that, and put it out.
But I hate to say that
we weren't interested in assigning blame, because *somebody* was responsible for
doing that, but I think it was just one of those things that -- looking back on
it now, you know, from the vantage point of 20-20 hindsight, I've got to say
that I think it was inevitable that something like that happen. And, in fact,
that was the tour from hell, because many, many bad things happened on that
tour. In St. Louis, some people were hurt seriously when some fans got on top of
a roof that was where other fans were underneath it, at a park somewhere, and it
collapsed. And so, you know, it's one of those things where we just -- it was
starting to make us wonder whether we were doing the right thing or
Caller: Yeah, well, as a group, we did respect
your decision to cancel the July 3rd show. That was [our] wedding anniversary,
and it was a big blow to us, but we did respect that decision. And I feel as a
group of fans at St. Louis, we were in the process of *fixing* our internal
problems. We were banding together, and really trying to figure out how *we* can
make it work, for all of us.
Lesh: Well, that's
certainly all that anybody in the band could have asked for. And we respect your
desire to do that, and I'm only sorry that we couldn't be out there playin' some
more, you know, so that you could enjoy it.
Yup. Well, I enjoy seeing you around the Bay Area, so keep it
Lesh: All right, sir. Thank
Caller: Thank you.
Hornsby & band with Phil Lesh and Bob Weir, "Not Fade Away," 4/12/96 --
Gans: All right, I made a mistake here. Phil
wanted me to play something else, so he's going to talk to you for a second
while I recue it. <laugh>
Lesh: It was my
mistake. This is from the Hornsby, Weir, and Lesh performance. Bruce Hornsby
brought his band to San Francisco about a year ago, and Bobby and I sat in. I
thought it was "Not Fade Away" that was the outstanding one, but it was
"Lovelight" that was the strangest, because John Molo, Bruce's drummer, and I
got into a very much different groove for "Lovelight," I think. As a matter of
fact, David, can we play "Truckin'," "Lovelight," *and* "Not Fade
Gans: <off mic> Of course we can, Phil!
This is *your* radio show.
Lesh: Okay, we're going
to give you the main body of that set, because I really had a good time doin'
this, and I hope you enjoy it, too.
Gans: And now,
here we are at the Fillmore Auditorium April 12, 1996, Bruce Hornsby with Phil
[Music: Bruce Hornsby
& band with Phil Lesh and Bob Weir, "Truckin'," "Lovelight," 4/12/96
Gans: We've been listening to
Bruce Hornsby and band, with special guests Phil Lesh and Bob Weir. That was
recorded almost exactly a year ago, April 12, 1996 at the Fillmore, and you
heard "Truckin' " and "Lovelight." That was fun for you, huh,
Lesh: Oh, man, it was really a great
experience. Bruce's band is so different from the Grateful Dead; there's no lead
guitar player, for one thing. And the rhythmic emphasis is so different, and
John is such a great drummer. I really got off playin' with the whole band. The
horns, you know -- it was wonderful.
Gans: Is there
a chance you might pop up somewhere along the Furthur tour again this
Lesh: There's a possibility, yeah. I haven't
been asked, and I don't know what the plans are for the
Gans: Well, Hornsby's going to be on the tour,
and Ratdog, so. . .
Lesh: Hey, well, I'm
Gans: All right. You do have a performance
coming up in just a few days you wanted to talk about.
Lesh: That's true. Actually, the year anniversary of what you just
heard, my son Grahame and I are going to be in a play together, and I'm acting
for the first time in front of an audience that doesn't consist of a high school
drama class. This is a very interesting experience for me. The play is called
"The Sacred Drama of Eleusis," and it's based on the mystery teachings of the
Greek religion, and it has to do with the legend of Demeter and Persephone, and
the abduction of Persephone -- who is the goddess of fertility, I think -- by
Pluto, the Lord of the Underworld, and I play Pluto, the Lord of the
Gans: *You* play
Lesh: Yes, Pluton, actually, in the play.
And I play him in my most stentorian voice. This play is fascinating because the
Greek mystery religion is very similar, really, to what would happen at Grateful
Dead shows, because there were consciousness-altering substances that were
ingested at the mystery initiations, and this play deals with the descent of the
soul into matter -- that is to say, the incarnation of the spirit, which each
one of us carries in him or herself, from the spiritual world into matter, into
the material bodies that we inhabit on this planet. And this is a metaphorical
description of the descent of the soul, and also its remembering of its divine
origin and its redemption.
And it is very
fascinating and, as I say, it has a lot of parallels to the Grateful Dead
experience, in that these dramas were performed to the initiates in an altered
state. It's going to be performed in April, on the 12th and the 13th, at
Dominican College in San Rafael. The venue is called Angelico Hall. And I think
Deadheads would find it very interesting on a, dare I say, cosmic
I'm going to hype this shamelessly, because
tickets are available. You can call for tickets at (415) 897-8438. It's been an
uplifting experience for me to perform in this, or to work with this theater
group, which is made up largely of amateurs. It's a community theater group, and
there are a lot of kids in it, from school -- actually, from eight schools in
the Bay Area; kids from the eight schools are going to be performing in
When we rehearse, it's fascinating because we do
-- I don't know if any of you folks know Eurhythmy, but Eurhythmy is a science,
an art of movement that is aligned with planetary and cosmic principles. And so
when we rehearse this play, the first thing we do is we do Eurhythmy figures in
a circle. And one of the figures we do is the infinity symbol, a lemniscate;
with certain music we dance an infinity symbol. And there are various other
patterns that we dance that are like expanding and contracting starburst kind of
patterns, and this really puts you in tune with something that's higher than
yourself. And I think that Deadheads, as I say, would really enjoy seeing
Gans: You are going to play
Lesh: Pluton, the Lord of the Underworld. <in
character> "Who dares enter the Gates of Hell? A living man? May he perish by
Gans: Ooh, I like it. Sounds good. Phil, it's
been a pleasure to have you here. I hope maybe you'll come back sometime and
bring some more of your interesting music, maybe take a few more
Lesh: I'd love to do
Gans: Any time. We miss Eyes of Chaos/Veil of
Order around here at KPFA. Got a call earlier in the evening from somebody who
misses having you and Gary [Lambert] on the air once a month playing the cool,
new, weird stuff, so --
Lesh: Well, I kinda miss
that myself. Maybe --
Wednesdays from 7 to 9. You want to come in, you bring a stack of those weird
CDs, I'll put ya on the air.
Lesh: You got it. I'll
Gans: I will leave you with the music we
began this program with, a sweet jam from 2/18/71, and I'll see you next
[Music: Grateful Dead, jam from "Wharf Rat" back into
"Dark Star" 2/18/71 CapitolTheater, Portchester NY]
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