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Watch The Grateful Dead play the last-ever show at JFK Stadium this day in 1989

The Grateful Dead at JFK Stadium in 1989 | via YouTube
The Grateful Dead at JFK Stadium in 1989 | via YouTube

Best known as the half-oval that filled to the brim for Live Aid in 1985, South Philadelphia’s JFK Stadium was something of a nerve center for rock in Philly during the 60s, 70s and 80s – hosting performances that range from Judy Garland’s final show in 1968 to The Rolling Stones in 1978 (headcount: 100,000 people in attendance), Blondie in 1982, and U2 in 1987 for The Joshua Tree tour (headcount: 86,000 in attendance).

Suffice it to say, this place was massive, though by the end of the 80s had outlived its useful existence and was shuttered. Short of the Rolling Stones using it as a practice space for their Steel Wheels tour dress rehearsals – the most epic practice space of all time, wow – the field went dormant and was leveled in 1992 to pave the way for what is now the Wells Fargo Center.

The final show at JFK was a great one – The Grateful Dead performed a two-hour and 53-minute gig at JFK on July 7, 1989, 27 years ago today – but it was at the same time unceremonious. Continue reading →

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North Bowl will host listening party for The National’s Day of the Dead compilation

the war on drugs
The War on Drugs | Photo by Kate McCann | katemccannphotography.com

On May 19th, the night before its official release, The National’s epic tribute compilation to the Grateful Dead will get its own listening party at North Bowl in Northern Liberties. Attendees will get to hear Day of the Dead in its entirety, which features 59 of the Dead’s songs performed by almost as many bands. The album will benefit HIV/AIDS nonprofit Red Hot.

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Watch The National cover The Grateful Dead on Colbert for their upcoming Day Of The Dead tribute compilation

The National | Photo by John Vettese
The National | Photo by John Vettese

Indie rockers The National will be releasing their Grateful Dead tribute compilation Day Of The Dead on May 20th, and last night they stopped by The Late Show with Stephen Colbert to perform their cover of the Dead’s “Morning Dew.”

The band first released their cover back in March as a “first taste sampler” from the album along with The War On Drugs’ take on “Touch Of Grey,” Courtney Barnett’s cover of “New Speedway Boogie,” and more. Singer Matt Berninger takes his vocals down an octave from Jerry’s tenor to his own signature baritone, but musically, the song remains pretty faithful to the original. Continue reading →

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Listen to The Grateful Dead play The Spectrum in two 35-year-old bootlegs

The Grateful Dead live in 1981 | via YouTube

The early 80’s were a strange period for The Grateful Dead: they had already released the bulk of their best material, Brent Mydland had just joined the band on keyboards after the departure of the Godchauxs, and Jerry’s drug use was spiking. However, these unearthed concert recordings from the Dead’s performance at the Spectrum in 1981 prove that the band still had their stuff together and more.

35 years to the day after the show and the recordings still sound fresh as ever. Jerry’s drunk guitar solo on “Sugaree” takes on a life of its own, the band catches a steady groove on a cover of “Not Fade Away,” and classics such as “I Know You Rider” and “Terrapin Station” sound as good as ever. Continue reading →

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Listen to The War On Drugs covering “Touch Of Grey,” Courtney Barnett covering “New Speedway Boogie” and more from The National’s Grateful Dead tribute comp

the war on drugs
The War on Drugs | Photo by Kate McCann | katemccannphotography.com

Confession: I’ve never considered myself a “Deadhead.” Every once in a while when I was growing up, my dad would play “Friend of the Devil” or “Brokedown Palace” (pretty much just American Beauty). I’ve always enjoyed their music, but I’ve really only scratched the surface when it comes to their immense catalogue of live recordings, Dick’s Picks, and journeys into psychedelia.

But when it comes to songwriting and capturing the American experience, The Grateful Dead really were one of the greatest bands of the past 50 years. The National knows this, and apparently 58 other hugely successful bands and musicians do as well. That’s why the Dessner’s (Bryce & Aaron of The National) have assembled the outrageously massive Day Of The Dead tribute compilation, which features everyone from Bruce Hornsby to Wilco, Philly’s The War on Drugs to Bob Weir himself covering classic Dead tunes from their earliest stages up until present day. Continue reading →