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Celebrating Five Decades of The Dead

Without question, 2015 will long be remembered as the last hurrah for the Grateful Dead, reunited for the first time onstage in 20 years at the same venue where they played their last gig – at Soldier Field in Chicago.

When the five-day concert event was originally announced, more than 500,000 mail-order ticket requests were received – proving once and for all the band’s enduring popularity.

Fare Thee Well: Celebrating 50 Years of Grateful Dead marks the end of an era, a cause for nostalgia and celebration. The four surviving founding members of the Grateful Dead – Mickey Hart, Bill Kreutzmann, Phil Lesh and Bob Weir – will take the stage in Chicago at week’s end – joined by such esteemed friends and collaborators Trey Anastasio (of Phish fame), Jeff Chimenti (of Ratdog fame), and multiple Grammy Award winner Bruce Hornsby, and they’ll be playing two sets each night.

Of course, not everyone can attend any or all of the concerts in person, and although they will be available via Pay-Per-View and online streaming, audiences can also experience this once-in-a-lifetime – or twice-in-a-lifetime, or even thrice-in-a-lifetime – event on the big screen, up close and personal, and larger than life.

Fathom Events has joined forces with Peter Shapiro and Madison House to bring three of these Grateful Dead concerts (July 3, 4 and 5) to more than 250 screens around the country. You can attend one or, if you really want to prove your mettle as a Deadhead, all three. It’s a long-standing adage that no two Grateful Dead shows are ever alike.

Fare Thee Well will be screened Friday, Saturday and Sunday right here in the Piedmont Triad at the Greensboro Grande Cinema 16, a theater that has previously hosted many popular Fathom Events screenings, including the recent 40th-anniversary screenings of the ground-breaking 1975 blockbuster Jaws and the ongoing series of “RiffTrax” screenings featuring founding members of “Mystery Science Theatre 3000” riffing away on movies that would otherwise be better forgotten (like Santa Claus Conquers the Martians!) “With tickets to the Soldier Field event sold out and after-market prices in the thousands of dollars, we’re excited to give fans across the nation another chance to experience this three-night concert event and celebrate 50 years of the Grateful Dead,” explained Kymberli Frueh-Owens, Fathom Events’ vice-president of programming, in an official statement. “With each night being a unique performance, Deadheads won’t want to miss any of the legendary band’s final shows.”

Somehow, it’s hard to believe that it’s been 50 years since the Dead emerged from the West Coast counter-culture music scene and achieved lasting popularity worldwide. Once the ‘60s stopped swinging, many felt the Dead’s days were done, but they proved the naysayers wrong – becoming even more popular in the ‘70s, ‘80s and ‘90s, amassing a loyal legion of fans fondly known as “Deadheads.”

(I’m not sure I quite qualify as a Deadhead, although I was fortunate to have friends in college who did their best to turn me on to the Grateful Dead sound – for which I thank them – and I still have a few T-shirts, one a lovely tie-dye, the other commemorating a concert in my birthplace, Philadelphia.)

It was mid-summer 1995 that the Grateful Dead last rocked Soldier Field, but who knew it would be their last concert until now? The death of Jerry Garcia in August 1995 marked the end of the Grateful Dead as we know it. But now, amid the fireworks of July 4 th , the Dead will rise one last time.

It’s only appropriate that the Dead celebrate the nation’s independence, given the band’s uniquely American style of music – one that encompasses folk, rock, blues, country and other styles to create the distinctive Grateful Dead sound, which has entertained audiences from Haight-Ashbury to the pyramids of Egypt, and pretty much all points inbetween. !

WANNA go?

The Greensboro Grande Stadium 16 is located at 3205 Northline Ave. (in the Friendly Center), Greensboro. Showtimes are 8 pm Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Tickets for each screening are $19.22. For advance tickets or more information, check out www.FathomEvents. com. The official Grateful Dead website is www.dead.net. Also playing at Ziggy’s in Winston-Salem on Sunday night. See Needledrop on page 24 for details.

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