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.