A few thoughts from the homestead on this Fourth of July, which is a rarity these years. One reason is that this is the first summer since 2010 that I haven’t taught abroad, and I’m usually gone by late June. (I much preferred to stay home for some needed family time.) It’s also notable that I’m home because I opted out of two great musical weekends occurring simultaneously: Grateful Dead at Soldier Field and Dave Matthews Band at SPAC. (This weekend is one of our few opportunities to spend a quiet few days at home this summer, and I was a little exhausted by the thought of both musical prospects.) Curiously, this extended weekend brings a number of things full circle in a somewhat solipsistic manner.
This weekend at Chicago’s Soldier Field, the Grateful Dead fare thee well with a three-night run after a half century of trailblazing. I’ve been listening to much of the festivities’ broadcasts on SiriusXM, both of the actual shows and the pre-show coverage. (Friday’s pre-show included a wonderful and unexpected interview with Charles Lloyd, one of my personal favorites.) Seeing The Dead on this night in 2009 (and similarly with Phil Lesh & Friends the summer before) is one of my fondest musical memories. I felt like I really was part of something special. My social media feed this weekend has included a regular stream of updates from folks I know who traveled to the Windy City this weekend. As I wrote here, I’m no Deadhead but I definitely consider myself a fan.
Soldier Field was where the Grateful Dead performed their final shows in 1995 before the dead of Jerry Garcia. Speaking the Dead in 1995, Dave Matthews Band opened for the elders for their three–night run in Vegas that May.
Coincidentally, Soldier Field was the location of my first and fourth DMB shows (06.29.00 and 07.06.01, respectively). This is my first time not making the annual pilgrimage to SPAC with my brother-in-law in several years. However, I was pleased to see that DMB very unexpectedly covered Grateful Dead’s “Friend of the Devil” during tonight’s acoustic set in honor of the latter’s goodbye run. Classy move.
Fear not, I’ll be seeing DMB this coming Tuesday outside of Detroit for my 65th show, almost fourteen years from the date of my fourth show. (In fact, it’s my first year attending only one DMB concert since I started attending frequenting the band’s concerts, assuming there’s no winter tour.) I doubt they’ll be busting out any Dead covers, but it shall be a great time regardless. Until then, fare thee well, core four. Hopefully I’ll hear a little “Loose Lucy” pop up in a set list before the weekend’s over…
…And I’ve returned because as soon as I clicked “publish,” the Dead started performing “Friend of the Devil” in Chicago. Full circle, indeed. As Robert Hunter wrote, “Once in a while you get shown the light in the strangest of places if you look at it right.”