In September and October of 1980, the Grateful Dead completed a concert tour of shows containing three sets each, one acoustic set followed by two electric sets. The acoustic sets were the first the band performed since the early 70’s aside from a few rare one-off acoustic sets in special circumstances. The tour was comprised of 15 shows at The Warfield in San Francisco, two shows at the Saenger Theatre in New Orleans, and eight shows at Radio City Music Hall in New York, with one show from this run being featured in the full-concert film Dead Ahead, which was MC’d by Al Franken and Tom Davis.
This Friday, October 7, local Grateful Dead cover bands, The Maine Dead Project and The Workin’ Dead will recreate one of the legendary shows from the Radio City Music Hall run. Which concert will be performed is being kept a secret until the night of the show.
The Maine Dead Project and The Workin’ Dead have become two Portland staples in the local jam band scene for the past year. Both bands consist of members that have played in numerous configurations of groups that have contributed to keeping the Grateful Dead spirit alive.
The Maine Dead Project (MDP) was formed by Tim Sullivan of Hallowell and the group began its tenure with a weekly residency at Slab last summer. The lineup for MDP consists of Sullivan on guitar and vocals, Josh Robbins on bass and vocals, Justin Maxwell on keys and vocals, and a two-drummer attack from Ryan Benoit and Chris Sweet. Doug Emery, who has been well-known in the Portland music scene for many years, has been on guitar and vocals for MDP but is currently taking time off from the group to spend time with his family. His role will be filled by Joe Farrell from Percy Hill.
In contrast to the full-band aesthetic that MDP creates for local deadheads, The Workin’ Dead is an acoustic trio act featuring Tom Faunce on guitar and vocals, Mark McKelvey on bass and vocals, and the group is led vocally by Aaron Nadeau who also plays guitar.
Together, MDP and the Workin’ Dead have collaborated this summer for “Dead Wednesday's” at Portland House of Music and Events (HOME). The evenings have begun with Happy Hour at 5:30 with The Workin’ Dead playing two sets, most of which have been outside on the Patio during the summer and then MDP taking the stage for a full-on live band performance until close.
The October 7 show is capping off MDP’s residency as the band will be taking a break for a few months with plans to resume the residency in January. The Workin’ Dead will continue its happy hour slot.
Throughout Dead Wednesday's, HOME experienced a diverse crowd strong in numbers. With the shows taking place in the middle of the week, Deadheads alike have been able to enjoy an earlier, lighter grateful dead experience and with MDP, the later crowd is treated to the full experience with a big sound system and full light show.
Dead Wednesday's have also proven that the Dead spirit is alive and well in Portland. Both crowds have presented fans that range in age from 21 to mid-60’s, expressing the fact that the music of the Dead remains timeless and stretches across numerous eras and generations.
With MDP culminating its 20-week residency, which consisted of a rotating set of nearly 140 Grateful Dead songs, the dual-bill show with The Workin’ Dead will showcase both bands at the top of their game. Dead Wednesday’s have proven to be a success for HOME and the crowd will certainly contain longtime deadhead friends and family, as well as new friendships that were initiated this summer. The show will also give fans a chance to relive a Grateful Dead experience who were not able to make it out during the week. This Friday, October 7, is sure to be a great time to be had by all and celebrate the music of The Grateful Dead and its presence in our beloved city of Portland.
Doors open at 8:00 for the show with music starting at 9:00. For tickets and more info visit www.portlandhouseofmusic.com
- Published in Music