Raising The Dead begun its necromance about 3 years ago, when Bill Butler approached Jake Vasquez with an idea to recreate the music of the Grateful Dead. Dave Martin joined a few months later, and not long after, Max Katz formed our "core four." Since then, we've talked of recreating the Dead's first live release of the compact disc era, "Without A Net." When the call came for our first headlining gig at the Parliament Room at Otus Supply, we knew it was time to make it so.
Not that we weren't prepared - of the 17 songs spanning the double-disc collection, we had performed 14, most of them many times. The WAN versions were our go-to reference tracks for songs like Feel Like A Stranger and Help>Slip>Frank since we first learned them. We love the late-80s energy, the contributions of keyboardist/vocalist Brent Mydland, and the joy that Jerry seemed to exude playing with this lineup, so we couldn't wait to work to recreate the music and the vibe.
For the show, we learned Walkin' Blues, Dear Mr. Fantasy, and the Weir rarity Victim or the Crime. The latter song was a test with its challenging chromaticism, but everyone did their homework, and the song fell together effortlessly the first time in rehearsal, and our comfort comes across on stage.
There was one piece of the puzzle we had to add to our ensemble in order to adequately recreate the album - and that was Branford Marsalis' stunning sax work on Eyes of the World. We chose Bill's Full Speed Ahead bandmate Mark Lane, who took to the task with musicianship and professionalism that made him a pleasure to play with. Quickly, we knew one song wouldn't be enough, so he was brought in to play on Walkin' Blues and Dear Mr. Fantasy, and during our encore (we'll get to that soon!)
So, in great contrast to our Halloween show, this setlist was entirely predictable - with a few exceptions - until the encore. We followed the album but added Weather Report to Let It Grow to play the entire suite, and we played the '73 ending to Eyes, which the Dead didn't play in the 80s. One thing the Dead did consistently do in this period was Drums>Space, and while it wasn't on the ablum, we added it between Victim or the Crime and Help on the Way. Our guest drummer Stephen NyQuist (in his 6th appearance with RTD) added unflinching energy and sparkling backround vocals, and a killer solo Drums. The album version of Dear Mr. Fantasy was sung by Brent and included as an elegy to the recently departed Mr. Mydland, but it oddly fades out, rather than finishes. This may be because they usually segued into the "Na na na na" section of The Beatle's classic Hey Jude, and royalties may have made its inclusion on the album prohibitive. At Max's suggestion, we ended Dear Mr. Fantasy (expertly sung by Stephen), then played the entire McCartney classic. The crowd sang just about every word along with us, and it made a great capstone to the second set.
While we're mentioning the crowd, let's talk about the best fans around for a minute. The crowd that night at Otus was big, and they were ready for a rock and roll show! The cheers of appreciation, the non-stop dancing, and the sheer enthusiasm for hearing their favorite music played live was so encouraging for everyone on stage. Jake's lightning licks, Max's Moog mastery, Bill's bass bombs, Stephen's frantic fills, Dave's smooth singing, and Mark's soulful sax all elicited cheers of delight from our fantastic fans. We were pushed to new heights by the enthusiasm of our crowd, and we're always so happy to have them back to see us do what we love.
About that encore: we decided it would be appropriately audacious to give everyone far more than they expected, after a 70-minute first set and a 75-minute second set: a 45-minute encore of Dark Star>St. Stephen>The Eleven>Not Fade Away. Every segue brought disbelief that it was still showtime, until the audience ended the show, clapping along while singing "NO OUR LOVE WILL NOT FADE AWAY!"
It was a night we will not soon forget. Thank you.
11-29-2019 The Parliament Room at Otus Supply, Ferndale, MI
I: Feel Like A Stranger, Mississippi Half-Step Toodeloo, Walkin' Blues*#, Althea, Cassidy, Bird Song, Weather Report Suite>Let It Grow
II: China Cat Sunflower>I Know You Rider, Looks Like Rain, Eyes of the World#, Victim or the Crime*>Drums>Space>Help On The Way>Slipknot>Franklin's Tower, One More Saturday Night, Dear Mr. Fantasy*+, Hey Jude*#
E: Dark Star#>St. Stephen>The Eleven>Not Fade Away
*=first time played
#=Mark Lane on saxophone
+=Stephen Nyquist on lead vocals
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Raising The Dead
Is a band committed to recreating the live experience of a Grateful Dead show. We hope you'll kindly join us.