I have a tape from 1998 with the surviving members of the Grateful Dead that contains one of the most chill-inducing moments ever recorded. Performing as The Other Ones, it was the first time the band had performed as a whole since the death of Jerry Garcia. It was a hugely anticipated moment and they performed to perfection.
The moment in question comes during the opening notes of a song called “The Eleven.” Prior to that song, the band played “St. Stephen,” a song they had not played in some 10 years. Being a fan favorite, the audience erupted in joy as they once again could hear its notes played live. Though “The Eleven” originally followed “St. Stephen” in concert, it had not been performed live in nearly 30 years. It was something of a Holy Grail amongst Deadheads, being only a few people alive who could remember hearing the song performed as an audience member.
When the Other Ones began performing this relic of a song, the audience went absolutely bonkers. You can actual hear recognition sweep through the fans. With the first few bars there was a burst of excitement that grows and sweeps over the crowd as they began to realize they were in for something more than special – this was something historic and magical.
It was a perfect moment.
The Other Ones went on to perform several tours, eventually changing their name to the Dead. While they still get together from time to time, most of the surviving members have gone off to create their own side projects.
With Phil Lesh and Friends, the Grateful Dead bassist has created the perfect band name. With it, he gets immediate recognition, and can perpetually change the lineup for the band without ever having to worry about creating a new name – for it is always Phil and his friends.
And what friends they are. Since the fall of 2000, Phil has played with a virtual who’s who of the jam band scene. From old school jammers like members of Little Feat and the Allman Brothers Band, to fresher faces like that of Phish and Aquarian Rescue Unit, Phil’s friends have included some of the greatest improvisational musicians in rock music.
With the release of the two CD/two DVD set, Live at the Warfield, Relix Records have unleashed the bombastic sounds that make up the band's newest incarnation. Featuring Joan Osborne on vocals, John Scofield and Larry Campbell on guitars, Greg Osby on sax, Rob Barraco on keyboards, and John Molo on drums, the newest Friends are a formidable act indeed.