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Dead and Company Stir Up Memories in California: Review and Exclusive Photos

Here are exclusive photos from Dead and Company’s July 27, 2016 show at the Sleep Train Amphitheatre in Chula Vista, Calif., and what a show it was! Packed to the brim, fans could be seen sitting in lawn chairs outside the venue by their cars listening to the Jerry Garcia Band, relaxing before the show.

The vibe was unhurried and carefree, and you could tell the night was going to be filled with happy-go-lucky people having a good time, dancing and just enjoying the company of one another. When the doors opened and concertgoers took their seats, a friendly atmosphere encompassed the amphitheater. A tone had been set for the night to come, with good feelings all around.

And why not? Though the Grateful Dead broke up more than two decades ago with the death of Jerry Garcia, the music never truly stopped for Deadheads. Evident now in the sound carried over by Dead and Company, the legend and the stories of the Grateful Dead can be heard, and visually recognized, in a 2016 tour that nostalgically brought back tunes from one of our most iconic bands.

They got together after John Mayer came upon the Grateful Dead on Pandora in 2011, and became hooked. A friendship soon developed with Dead guitarist Bob Weir, and Mayer invited Bob to join him on The Late Show. Long-awaited reunion dates in Chicago and California featuring the four surviving core members of the Grateful Dead, dubbed “Fare Thee Well,” then drew crowds into the tens of thousands. People of all walks of life, new and old generations, came together to celebrate the music of the Grateful Dead. This led directly to the formation of Dead and Company, after bassist Oteil Burbridge (formerly of the Allman Brothers Band) stepped in for Phil Lesh, who decided not to take part in a longer tour due to health reasons.

Mickey Hart, Bill Kreutzmann and Jeff Chimenti joined Weir and Mayer on stage in Chula Vista, Calif., even as a set of black dancing bears with the unmistakable Grateful Dead lightning bolt logo appeared behind them. They opened with a cover of the New Orleans classic “Iko Iko,” and everyone was immediately up and moving, waving their arms and dancing. “Minglewood Blues” followed, and then the Dead tune “Candyman,” with Mayer on lead vocals. The show was broken up into two sets, with the first half consisting of a few covers (Johnny Cash, Ratdog, and Jerry Garcia Band) and numerous Grateful Dead tunes. One of the highlights seemed to be when they played “Sugaree”; the crowd could be heard singing “shake it, shake it, Sugaree,” as the lights swirled in harmony with the song and Bob Weir and John Mayer’s guitars rang out together. Dead and Company ended the concert’s first half with “The Music Never Stopped,” giving fans a short break before going into the second set.

Set two consisted of many fan favorites, including “Truckin’,” with both Mayer and Weir on vocals, “Althea” (which hadn’t been heard much on this tour), and “Playing in the Band.” There was also a very intense drum solo between Bill Kreutzmann and Mickey Hart, accompanied by some trippy visuals to boot. Another noteworthy favorite during the second half was their update of Henry Whitter’s “Going Down the Road Feelin’ Bad,” a happy sounding tune with a less than happy message. They also offered a new take on Bob Dylan‘s “A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall,” before ending the set with the Grateful Dead’s “Throwing Stones.”

Dead and Company returned for an encore with “Black Muddy River” featuring John Mayer on vocals, which sent the crowd into a frenzy. It seemed like they didn’t want the night of jamming and fun to end, but all good things must. Visually and musically inspiring, the concert kept the spirit of Jerry Garcia alive even while it brought good people together for an evening of fun, good spirits and positive vibes.

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