We know that the Grateful Dead circle encompasses a great variety of close attachments and fond acquaintances (think Al and Tipper Gore, Bill Walton and Phil Jackson, Patrick Leahy and Nancy Pelosi.) But somehow one of the sweetest friendships seems to have been between Mickey Hart and Walter Cronkite. Since Cronkite’s death several very intimate stories have been told about their 22 years of being “dear, dear friends.” Mickey tells the story in Leah Garchik’s San Francisco Chronicle column of July 31 about Walter playing drums at his place. “And I invited him to see the Grateful Dead, and we kind of fell in love around all those exciting things. It was such a trust; he was such a treasure.” Cronkite apparently “loved marching bands, Sousa and Dixieland, and he loved the Grateful Dead.”

Beautiful and strange

Sometimes one learns about life from memorial tributes. In reading Joseph O’Connor’s recounting of the life and kindness of Pultizer Prize winner Frank McCourt in the Irish Sunday Independent of July 26th, the following is revealed. McCourt, a fabulous and generous storyteller, had at one stage of his life followed the Grateful Dead mixing with the “hippies and beatniks” whom he found “beautiful and strange.” He thought he had the makings of a novel.

Orchestral Tribute

“At the point where popular culture and classical art converge, the songs of the Grateful Dead make an excellent place to explore,” says Lee Johnson. Johnson is a professor of Music at LeGrange College in Georgia and composer-in-residence at this season’s Cabrillo Festival of Contemporary Music. His Dead Symphony No.6 is to be performed this Sunday. Johnson in an interview with Stacey Vreeken discusses the band’s mystique, the Dead Community, and the influence the Grateful Dead’s music has had upon his own work. The interview “Dead On” appears in the Santa Cruz Sentinel’s August 6th issue.

The Los Angeles Times also carries an article this week on the Festival’s orchestral tribute to the Grateful Dead. Written by Chloe Veltman, “Paying tribute to the Grateful Dead in symphony” can be found at:,0,4366990.story

Happy Birthday Jerry!

This whole week the city of Santa Cruz celebrates the music of the Grateful Dead, and pays tribute to Jerry. Weekend Santa Cruz is running a story “The Dead Keep Truckin in Santa Cruz” which highlights all the activities. Catch it online at:
And for further info see Dead Centric Events at

Keep Santa Cruz Weird and Lively

Maestra Marin Alsop was featured this morning on NPR in an interview with Scott Simon discussing this season’s Cabrillo Festival of Contemporary Music. Events starts today in Santa Cruz, a place Ms. Alsop fondly calls quaint and quirky. Lee Johnson’s Dead Symphony No. 6 gets a grand send off on August 9th as part of the festivities. For a short history of the festival read Marin Alsop’s article at the NPR site: