I’m busy with a lot of playing this week, so I’m posting another vid that doesn’t require too much annotation: a live performance of The Grateful Dead‘s “Shakedown Street” from 1989. This particular performance has been one I’ve returned to time and again for the last few years.
Although I don’t quite consider myself a Deadhead, I am a fan. (Since I’m the equivalent of a Deadhead for DMB, I know what’s involved in such a moniker, and wouldn’t claim to be such for The Grateful Dead when I’m obviously not.) A number of my friends and musical partners past and present are Deadheads, however, so I’ve been around their music for about a decade. I have a number of albums and live recordings, and actually consider my attending concerts of both The Dead and Phil Lesh & Friends to be some of my more profound live music experiences. I’ve also played their music in a number of groups: Teag & PK, Zentropy, The French Henchmen, and all of my musical endeavors with Pat Harris (including The Dirty River Jazz Band & The TCQ – two iterations of what I consider to be my first real band).
“Shakedown Street” is a great song. It’s definitely a dance number, which is a big reason I enjoy it so much. That also makes it fun to play – if done right, the crowd gets moving, further fueling the band. (I played this quite a bit with Zentropy; it was always a fun time.) It’s the title track of their tenth album (1978), and is also the namesake of the fan-run vendor area, selling items legal and “otherwise,” found in the parking found at their shows. (The name has since been extrapolated to other bands and fan communities – the vendor area for any band/festival is generally referred to as Shakedown Street nowadays.)
As mentioned, I don’t consider myself a Deadhead. I can’t get too deep into the minutiae of X month of Y tour being my favorite, etc., but I do have a relatively active knowledge of the band’s history. (What recordings I have span their output.) Hopefully I won’t cause too much controversy by saying that I really dig the late-80s live material, the lineup for which included the late Brent Mydland. This video’s performance comes from July 9, 1989 at Giants Stadium. (Recorded just days after Truckin’ Up To Buffalo – I mention that because I own that recording, and I love Buffalo – it’s my wife’s hometown and where we got married. :)) As is evident in this video, the band can not only jam, but groove. Hard. Jerry, Bob, Brent, and Phil snake in and around each other’s lines and ideas, all while maintaining the ensemble’s forward momentum. Jazz snobs take note, because the Dead display improvisation and group interaction as well as most any other jazz ensemble…
I hope you dig it. I have for a while, and will for a long time to come.