Startling the Dead: The Art of Dennis Larkins

A recent arrival at the Grateful Dead Archive is Startling Art: Revealing the Art of Dennis Larkins (La Luz de Jesus Press/Last Gasp, 2010). The gift of a supporter who is a fan of Larkins, the book documents the remarkable career of the artist whom Deadheads know as the man responsible for the famous posters of the Dead’s legendary runs at the Warfield and Radio City Music Hall in October 1980. Though not a Deadhead tome by any means, Startling Art does have some important Dead content, reproducing the Radio City Music Hall poster, the Downs at Santa Fe show (17 Oct. 1982), and the gatefold from Dead Set. What may most interest Dead fans and scholars, aside the from the fine overview of Larkins’ unique style and sensibility, are the book’s insights into Larkins’ oversized set pieces for the Dead’s stages, as well as for several other bands, most notably the Rolling Stones. Overall, the book demonstrates that Larkins’ work for the Dead is a vital part of his career and oeuvre that informs his broader vision and contribution as an artist.

Decanting the Dead: A Winemaker Reflects

In the most recent issue of the wine industry magazine Color and Aroma, ( winemaker and vineyard manager Wes Hagen reveals how his experience as a Deadhead influences his work as a vintner. His feature article, “How Jerry Garcia (and the Dead) Influenced My Winemaking,” is a thoughtful and intriguing meditation on the role of art, improvisation, and music in his own craft, lessons he learned from seeing 52 shows himself. As he put it, “as I began to make an outline for this article, I was actually surprised how easily I could make connections between Jerry and my own ideas of wine, music, craft and doing something that makes people high and happy.” Thanks to David Gans for pointing this out to us.

Making Music, Making Sausage: Recent Band Member Interviews

Members of the Grateful Dead were always good with media, and a recent book, Sausage Factory: The College Crier’s Infamous Interviews of the Freaks and the Famous (Inkwater, 2009), gathers interviews with Phil, Bobby, Mickey, and a number of others whose paths crossed the Dead’s, from fellow travelers like Hunter S. Thompson to later collaborators like Joan Osborne, Warren Haynes, and Jimmy Herring. Editors T. Virgil Parker, Jessica Hopsicker, and Carri Anne Yager elicit often surprisingly candid and thoughtful responses from even these interview-jaded media veterans. Worthwhile reading for fans interested in how these musicians have continued to grow and evolve in a Jerry-less world.

Psychedelic Culture

The new book Birth of a Psychedelic Culture: Conversations about Leary, the Harvard Experiments, Millbrook and the Sixties (Synergetic Press, 2010) has been reviewed as “an enchanted treasure chest, overflowing with insightful new dialogues, fascinating anecdotes, valuable historical accounts and other never-before-published material about the origins of modern psychedelic culture, by the people who helped to create it.” The book is based on a series of conversations between Ralph Metzner and Richard Alpert. Among the many personal commentators is Dr. Michael Kahn, Emeritus Professor of Psychology from UCSC.

Secret longings

And while we all here at the Grateful Dead Archive really want to be rock stars, it turns out they want to be just like us. Who knew? Keith Richards in his soon-to-be released autobiography talks about his childhood reading habits, his drive to collect and share good books, and he confesses his hidden desire to be a librarian. Catch it all in the Times’ preview of Richard’s Life coming out from Little Brown in the fall and written in collaboration with James Fox.

On the scholarly front the phenomenon continues

The Grateful Dead in Concert: Essays on Live Improvisation is now out from McFarland. Edited by Jim Tuedio, Professor of Philosophy at California State University, Stanislaus and Stan Spector, Philosophy Professor at Modesto Junior College, it includes twenty essays from major Dead scholars analyzing the “unique improvisational character of Grateful Dead music and its impact on appreciative fans.” Writings by David Gans, Alan Trist, and our own soon-to-be Grateful Dead Archivist Nicholas Meriwether are included.

Marketing rockstars

HubSpot CEO Brian Halligan and author David Meerman Scott are Deadheads and they’re offering a live Webinar “Inbound Marketing Lessons from the Grateful Dead” on Thursday April 1, 2010 at 1:00 pm ET. Halligan and Scott believe that the Grateful Dead are the original inbound marketing rockstars who pioneered social media and marketing concepts that businesses in all industries use today on the web. Join them for discussion; to learn more go to:


Bob Weir recently sat with interviewer David Fricke of Rolling Stone Magagzine to discuss HeadCount, the non partisan organization that works with musicians to facilitate participation in democracy, register voters, and make civic engagement part of the live music experience. Bob is a member of HeadCount’s Board of Directors. In the first of the four part interview Bob talks about democracy and the personal politics of the Grateful Dead. The interview can be heard in four weekly installments on the HeadCount web site:

Sam Cutler in paper and in Berkeley

Sam Cutler’s You Can’t Always Get What You Want: My Life with the Rolling Stones, the Grateful Dead and Other Wonderful Reprobates is now out in paperback from Ecw Press. It’s billed as an exhilarating, all-access rock memoir from the tour manager who did it all. He’ll be speaking and signing copies
Tuesday, April 20th, 7:30p.m to 9:00p.m at Berkeley’s University International House (2299 Piedmont Ave, Berkeley, CA. Tel. (510) 642-949.) This event is part of “Music Without Borders” series.

Welcome Billy to Santa Cruz!

7 Walkers, with the legendary Bill Kreutzmann makes a stop on April 10th at Moe’s Alley in Santa Cruz for a very special Saturday Night get down & Santa Cruz debut. The line-up also features bluesman and voodoo electronic pioneer Papa Mali, George Porter Jr., and Matt Hubbard. For more info on the venue, dates, and how to get tickets go to: