On Saturday, December 4th, Eric Krasno will head to Denver, CO’s Mission Ballroom for Denver Comes Alive. Before taking the stage at one of Denver’s newest music venues, Kraz spoke with the event host and SiriusXM DJ Ari Fink about the never-before-seen supergroup Ramble On Revival, the Grateful Dead songbook, and much more.
Manning the roles of both musical director and guitarist for Ramble On Revival, Krasno will lead the star-studded band consisting of bassist Oteil Burbridge (Dead & Company), guitarist Steve Kimock (The Other Ones), keyboardist Holly Bowling (Ghost Light), drummer Jeff Sipe (Col. Bruce Hampton and the Aquarium Rescue Unit), trumpeter Jennifer Hartswick, and saxophonist Skerik through a set comprised of songs from the Grateful Dead and The Allman Brothers Band‘s catalogs and beyond.
Before digging into the nitty-gritty of his admiration and appreciation of both the Dead and The Allman Brothers, Kraz took a moment to discuss the musicians whom he would direct on Saturday night.
“I’ve played with them all quite a bit,” Kraz explained. “Holly [Bowling] is more recent into my world. I’ve played with her with Phil Lesh & Friends, and [Steve] Kimock I’ve been a fan of for many years. We’ve actually played together a handful of times, but not enough.”
This mention of Kimock got Ari’s blood flowing, and when asked to expound upon that relationship, Kraz heaped praise upon his guitar brethren. “He’s one of my favorites … He has a certain patience to his playing, which I really respect. He’s one of those guys that, when he does speak, there’s a lot to say, but he takes his time with it. He’s such a tasteful guy, overall … I’m excited to play this music with him. We’re going to be blending—obviously, Oteil [Burbridge] being a member of Dead & Company, a former member of The Allman Brothers—we’ll be pulling songs out of both of those repertoires, but also expanding into some other stuff.”
From there, Fink guided Kraz into a conversation about the more subtle layers of the Grateful Dead repertoire, asking him which flavors of the band’s songbook resonated most. Krasno, something of a Dead connoisseur, answered as if he had waited his entire life for this question.
“I’m a big fan, as is everybody, of Garcia/Hunter. The combination of those two guys was something that is really magical, you know? To me, there’s like Lennon/McCartney, there’s Hunter/Garcia, maybe Elton John/Bernie Taupin … there’s a few, but they’re right up there man,” Krasno explained. “I’m a big fan of ‘Brown-Eyed Women’, I’m a big fan of … ‘Scarlet Begonias’. They have the ability to create, obviously, a mood musically. But, Hunter’s lyrics were able to paint these beautiful pictures that kind of take you to a certain place that only he can take you to. It’s like this special universe. It makes me super nostalgic, but it’s never cheesy. It’s really something so unique, and obviously, Garcia adding the music is always transcendent, especially as a vehicle for improvisation.”
After quickly mentioning a couple more Dead tracks—”Ship of Fools” and “Brokedown Palace”—the conversation shifted towards the counterculture and ethos of the iconic band.
“I’ve always been inspired by what they did with their live shows,” said Krasno. “Specifically, that they changed their set every night. I’m always curious about how that originated because so many bands will get their set tight and they’ll play that set, you know? And I’ve always loved the way the Dead are always changing up what they’re doing, and I think that influenced the whole culture … I think part of that is to cater to the fans and to make sure the fans get a different experience every time, but I think, also, they were inspired by the challenge to always be trying something new … Even the songs that they did play consistently, they would change up the arrangements and play them differently all the time. That’s inspiring to me as a musician because I thrive off of spontaneity, improvisation.”
Before the conversation ended, Kraz looked ahead on his own calendar and discussed what he has in the works. He talked with Fink about his forthcoming album, Always, due out on February 4th via Mascot Label Group. The two also talked about his recent singles, “Alone Together“, “So Cold“, and “Silence“, as well as his new backing band, The Assembly, which will accompany him on his co-headlining tour with Son Little early next year.
Watch Eric Krasno discuss Denver Comes Alive, Ramble On Revival, the Grateful Dead songbook, and more with Ari Fink below, and catch him on stage at Mission Ballroom on December 4th. Tickets are on sale here.
Eric Krasno & Ari Fink – Denver Comes Alive 2021 Interview