Dead & Company are officially in rehearsal, as Oteil Burbridge has excitedly been posting updates on his Instagram. The Allman Brothers/Aquarium Rescue Unit bassist plays an instrumental role in the revitalization of Grateful Dead music, alongside John Mayer who also unexpectedly spreads the gospel of Jerry to all those who listen. After their debut summer tour together last year, the group is undoubtedly working up new ways to diversify the enormous songbook before they return to the road later this month.
In a post from Oteil on Instagram, he writes “Somebody might be getting to sing lead this summer…..” with a picture of him standing up to the microphone. While nothing in Grateful Dead world is matter of fact until it happens, this hint is an exciting step forward in the evolution of the O-Zone.
Over the course of his tenure with Dead & Company, Burbridge has evolved from bass player to an official member of the Rhythm Devils; then stepping forward to provide vocal harmonies, into singing entire verses. These advancements can only happen with the respect of his fellow Grateful Dead brethren, who now welcome Oteil with open arms. I mean, who couldn’t?
We’ve seen Burbridge take lead vocals on “Dark Star” with Joe Russo’s Almost Dead before, and of course in the various musical scenarios the bassist finds himself in across the country, including the unforgettable “Scarlet>Fire” with the Daze Between Band in New Orleans earlier this month. A singing Oteil isn’t new, but fans take pride in seeing it happen after the invention of a “Let Oteil Sing” shirt that’s circulated the scene since the beginning of Dead & Company.
Of course the shirt idea started with the Grateful Dead’s 50th Anniversary Fare Thee Well tour, when fans successfully circulated a “Let Trey Sing” shirt during Anastasio’s turn with the Grateful Dead. It became such a hot commodity, that even Bob Weir was seen wearing the shirt during the final night’s encore in Chicago.
The “Let Oteil Sing” shirt originated at the beginning of Dead & Company tour, with all proceeds from shirt sales going to to the charity of Oteil’s choice: Gorilla Doctors. Gorilla Doctors is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to conserving wild mountain and eastern lowland (or Grauer’s) gorillas through life-saving veterinary medicine and a One Health approach. Its international team of veterinarians is the only group providing these critically endangered animals with direct, hands-on care in the wild, and Oteil’s wife, Jessica Burbridge, is the Director of Marketing. Read more about their incredible work on the Gorilla Doctors website.
With Dead & Company tour just around the corner, we can’t wait to see what Bob Weir, Bill Kreutzman, Mickey Hart, and company have in store.