Artists

Grateful Dead

The Grateful Dead were the most important band of the psychedelic era and among the most groundbreaking acts in rock and roll history. They broke all the rules while slowly and steadily building a career that carried them from the ballrooms of San Francisco in the Sixties to arenas and stadiums all over the country in the decades that followed. A leaderless democracy, they were fronted by guitarist Jerry Garcia, whose improvisational tangents made him a pied piper to the largest and most devoted cult following in popular music: a massive network of fans known as “Deadheads.” The Dead and their followers did much to keep the spirit of the Sixties alive in modern times.

Heavily steeped in Americana, the group had its roots in blues and bluegrass. From the jazz world, the Grateful Dead learned to approach music from an improvisational perspective. From the culture of psychedelia – specifically Ken Kesey’s Acid Tests, of which they were a part – the Dead became aware of the infinite possibilities for expression when imagination was given free reign. Led by Garcia’s guitar, the Dead would delve into blues, folk, jazz R&B and avant-garde realms for hours on end.

“They’ll follow me down any dark alley,” Garcia noted in 1987. “Sometimes there’s light at the end of the tunnel, and sometimes there’s a dark hole. The point is, you don’t get adventure in music unless you’re willing to take chances.”

The Dead’s career can be viewed in several stages. During the latter half of the Sixties, they were a psychedelic rock band whose music and lifestyle were synonymous with the San Francisco scene. In the Seventies, they moved toward a rootsier sound and style of songwriting while maintaining the lengthy jamming tangents that remained high points of their concerts. In the Eighties, they became a touring juggernaut, attracting a nomadic following of Deadheads that followed them from show to show. An anomalous commercial peak came in 1987 when “Touch of Grey” became a Top 10 hit, further accelerating the influx of younger fans to the band’s increasingly prosperous touring scene. They would appear on Forbes’ list of top-grossing entertainers and for a few years in the early Nineties were the highest-grossing concert attraction in the U.S. The 1995 death of Jerry Garcia abruptly put an end to the Grateful Dead, though various members subsequently regrouped as the Other Ones, The Dead and Furthur.

Ultimately, the Grateful Dead’s triumph was to create an alternative form of music and alternatives to music-business conventions that succeeded on their own uncompromising terms. Much about the Grateful Dead was improvised or left to chance. Theirs was a laissez-faire anarchy that assumed things would work out as the cosmos intended. This faith in a universal order, gleaned from the start at Kesey’s Acid Tests, freed them to pursue music without the usual constraints. The Grateful Dead illuminated the world with their music, transforming culture and consciousness as well. In so doing, they became an improbably durable and influential institution. As Phil Lesh said at the Grateful Dead’s induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1994: “Sometimes you don’t merely have to endure. You can prevail.”

Trey Anastasio

Over the past three decades, composer/guitarist/vocalist Trey Anastasio has forged a multi-faceted career, winning acclaim in rock, orchestral and theatrical circles. He is a founding member of Phish, one of today’s most successful and innovative rock bands. Known for uncompromising musicianship and spectacular live performances, Phish celebrated its 30th year as a band in 2014 with the release of its 12th studio album, Fuego, and extensive touring. Anastasio also tours regularly with Trey Anastasio Band, which celebrated its 15th anniversary in 2014 and will release a new studio album, Paper Wheels, in the fall of 2015. He has received GRAMMY® nominations for his recordings with Phish and for his solo work. Anastasio has collaborated with such artists as Dave Matthews, Herbie Hancock, Carlos Santana, Toots and the Maytals, B.B. King and The Roots, and – as part of the trio Oysterhead – Les Claypool (Primus) and Stewart Copeland (The Police). He co-wrote the music for the Broadway musical “Hands on a Hardbody,” which received a Tony nomination for “Best Original Score” in 2013.

Jeff Chimenti

Bay Area native Jeff Chimenti’s formative period included both jazz gigs and performances with Primus’ Les Claypool. In 1997 he joined Bob Weir’s RatDog and he has been a collaborative stalwart ever since, in such projects as The Other Ones, The Dead and Furthur.

Bruce Hornsby

Bruce Hornsby’s work displays a creative iconoclasm that’s been a constant in the artist’s two-and-a-half decade recording career. His commercial stock soared early on, when “The Way It Is”–the title track of his 1986 debut album–became one of the most popular songs on American radio. Despite his early mainstream successes, Hornsby has pursued a more personal, idiosyncratic musical path, focusing on projects that sparked his creative interest, including collaborations with the Grateful Dead, Spike Lee, Ricky Skaggs, Don Henley, Ornette Coleman, Bob Dylan, Bela Fleck, Bonnie Raitt, Pat Metheny, and Robbie Robertson. Hornsby’s performance will offer a glimpse of a restless spirit who continues to push forward into exciting new musical terrain.