After months of fan speculation bolstered by an October 2008 performance at the “Change Rocks” concert/rally for Barack Obama in State College, Pa., and three recent viral internet videos with band interviews and performance footage, the Grateful Dead have officially announced tour dates for 2009. This marks the band’s first trek since 2004’s “Wave That Flag” tour.
Kicking off April 12 in Greensboro, N.C., and wrapping May 10 near San Francisco, the tour will encompass 19 shows — all to be performed as “An Evening With” — in 16 cities. Pre-sale tickets go on sale Jan. 13 and nationwide beginning Jan. 23. All of the concerts are set for indoor arenas except for the final show at Shoreline Amphitheatre in Mountain View, Calif.
Original Dead members Bob Weir, Phil Lesh, Bill Kreutzmann and Mickey Hart will be joined by keyboardist Jeff Chimenti and Allman Brothers Band/Gov’t Mule guitarist Warren Haynes, both of whom played with the band at the “Change Rocks” concert.
The group first formed with lead guitarist Jerry Garcia as the Grateful Dead in 1965 and are legendary for their live performances. The Grammy-winning Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame group always toured relentlessly, allowing their “Dead Head” fans to tape and trade their exploratory, free-flowing concerts.
“We’ve got some unfinished business,” says guitarist/singer Bob Weir. “Everybody has a whole new bag of tricks; we have the body of material we worked up over the years and we have a mind meld going on here and it would be a sin to let that just wither and die.”
Drummer Mickey Hart added, “A mind meld is a terrible thing to waste.”
Bassist Phil Lesh says, “For me, it’s the question mark that’s really pulling me in…what’s gonna happen? When you walk out on the stage the possibilities are infinite every time. The musical possibilities are infinite: there is no end to it, there’s no back wall and there’s no ceiling, there’s no floor. It’s infinite and therefore you can still explore it till the day that you die.”
Drummer Bill Kreutzmann says, “I get goosebumps just thinking about the possibilities.”
Seeds of the idea of touring again were first planted in February 2008 when Hart, Lesh and Weir played a “Dead Heads For Obama” show at the Warfield in their native San Francisco, and in 2008, Weir, Kreutzmann and Hart performed at a post-inauguration event for Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi.
Always sonic and technological adventurers, The Grateful Dead formed in San Francisco’s electric Haight-Ashbury neighborhood in the mid-1960s, combining their love of bluegrass, country, electric rock and jazz to create one of the most iconic repertoires in rock music. By touring continuously and never relying on radio hits or latest trends, the Dead and Dead Heads created an unparalleled bond. Fans were turned on to the group by live bootlegs and word of mouth, with many following the band on the road for whole tours.
Ready to catch a show? Dates, cities and venues for the 2009 tour include:
April 12 — Greensboro, N.C., Greensboro Coliseum
April 14 — Washington, D.C., Verizon Center
April 15 — Charlottesville, Va., John Paul Jones Arena
April 17 — Albany, N.Y., Times Union Center
April 18 — Worcester, Mass., DCU Center
April 19 — Worcester, Mass., DCU Center
April 21 — Buffalo, N.Y., HSBC Arena
April 22 — Wilkes-Barre, Pa., Wachovia Arena @ Casey Plaza
April 24 — Uniondale, N.Y., Nassau Coliseum
April 25 — New York, Madison Square Garden