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There’s plenty of life after death for the Dead

There’s plenty of life after death for the Dead

If life on the road up until Aug. 9, 1995 was a labor of love for Deadheads, keeping up with our heroes in the post-Jerry years were like the trials of Hercules. Bob Weir took off with RatDog full-time and Phil Lesh got the occasional help from his Friends, while drummers Mickey Hart and Bill Kreutzmann participated in any number of haphazard projects. I’m not even going to mention Donna Jean & the Tricksters and Vince Welnick’s Missing Man Formation. It was like being a child in the midst of an amicable divorce; things would never be the same and you were left with some serious individual choices to make. Something happened in 1998 to bring a little order to the chaos, as all of the survivors banded together as the Other Ones, bringing along a fabulous group of auxiliary players to satisfy the void left by the lion of Jerry Garcia. Bruce Hornsby, Jimmy Herring and Steve Kimock brought the instrumental and lyrical punch and the incredible Alphonso Johnson lent his bass mastery while Lesh toured with his own band, ironically also built around the Grateful Dead’s expansive catalog. The nucleus was intact for the most part, but it would take a simple name change to make it feel right again. With just a minor lineup tweak, the Other Ones became the Dead in 2003 and all seemed right with the world. The name didn’t show it, but the fans were Grateful that a familiar sobriquet was once again a part of the conventional lexicon. Jerry wasn’t there in any corporeal sense, but having the name back meant just as much to some. One of their first major festival appearances came on June 15 of that year, as the band played the second annual Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival, and it was more of a statement that the music never really did stop. The main stage was already packed with holdovers from the electric two-hour James Brown set that closed out only an hour earlier. My friends and I gathered a comfortable distance away, after a sweltering weekend of relentless live music and no sleep left us uncompelled to fight through the sordid humanity once again for an ideal spot. The surprise generated by opener “Touch of Grey” was only surpassed by the backup singer who took the lead on “Sugaree.” Joan Osborne, nose ring and all, arose from mid-’90s obscurity to claim a prominent, even if temporary, vocal spot in a band that had burned through their pipes over the years in more ways than one. Despite our best efforts to stay together, the crowd swelled and swept us away like the tide. After the lullaby “Attics of My Life” sung more than a few of us to sleep, I stumbled back to our campsite and passed out in a lawn chair until my friend Dave managed to noisily find his way back. As we sat and scrounged

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