Even in a realm of seemingly limitless possibilities like the Grateful Dead, there are certain things fans thought they might never see. Following Fare Thee Well, it appears pretty slim we’ll see the “Core Four” (Bob WeirPhil LeshBill Kreutzmann, and Mickey Hart) onstage together again. Given the exodus of Kreutzmann from Dead & Company’s The Final Tour, those odds seem even slimmer.

Those with an affinity for ’80s Dead have also been forced to accept the fact that the band’s longest-tenured keyboardist Brent Mydland will never get his due credit in the modern era. Granted, the gravelly timbre that made him such a force on stage is far more difficult to replicate than the voices of Jerry Garcia or Bob Weir, but one would be hard-pressed to find a single Dead tribute act from your local bar to Dead & Company honoring the beloved bearded baritone.

Another pipe dream for many fans in the 21st century was hearing drummer Mickey Hart rap “Fire On the Mountain”, and until last night when Dead & Company played Folsom Field, that dream seemed as distant a reality as a Tom Constanten sit-in. During the second set of the Grateful Dead spinoff’s second of three shows in Boulder, Hart stepped to the mic to deliver the original proto-rap version of the song he penned with Robert Hunter in the early 1970s.

Per the official Grateful Dead website, Hart—who is credited for the music and Hunter with the lyrics—first recorded the song for his unreleased album Area Code 415 in 1972 and 1973. In Hunter’s own words, the two wrote the song together “in heated inspiration as the surrounding hills blazed and the fire approached the recording studio where we were working…” The song finally appeared in the Dead’s repertoire on March 18th, 1977 at Winterland Arena in San Francisco, sung by Jerry. While the original Grateful Dead never let Mickey spit his flow, the drummer did deliver his rap through numerous post-Jerry projects including The Other Ones and The Dead, as well as his own Mickey Hart Band and Mystery Box.

These days, “Fire On The Mountain” is dutifully handled by angel-voiced bassist Oteil Burbridge. On Sunday, Oteil added his African Space Banjo (a staple of this summer’s “Drums” and “Space” sequences) to the mix. After Oteil sang the first two verses in the customary manner, Hart rose from his drum kit, sauntered to the mic, blew Burbridge a kiss, and made history and Deadhead dreams come true.

If Mercy’s a business, I wish it for you
More than just ashes when your dreams come true

 

View this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by Oteil ☥ (@oteil_burbridge)

Beyond the “Fire On The Mountain” rap, the second-to-last Dead & Company show at Folsom Field was historic in other ways. With Sunday’s concert, the University of Colorado Boulder football stadium took back the title of D&C’s most-played venue from New York’s Citi Field, setting the record with 12 career performances.

From the opening silky, silky, crazy, crazy notes of John Mayer‘s guitar on “Feel Like A Stranger”, Sunday was an evening for the books. Hart’s jubilation was evident from the beginning of the concert, a feeling shared with the crowd through “Brown-Eyed Women”, “Friend of the Devil”, “Ramble on Rose”, and other Dead classics in the first set.  It’s nice to know that there are things in life you can count on other than death and taxes, and one of those is Dead & Company playing “Samson And Delilah” every Sunday.

Dead & Company – “Feel Like A Stranger” [Pro-Shot] – 7/2/23

Set two reconnected with the historical angle from the very beginning as D&C jumped into the 1973 arrangement of “They Love Each Other”, which has been starting second sets with pep all summer long. The momentum carried the band through a “China Cat Sunflower” > “I Know You Rider” pairing punctuated by a thundering, “I wish I was a headlight / On a northbound train / I’d shine my light through / A cool Colorado rain,” ahead of the historic “Fire On The Mountain”.

Dead & Company – “They Love Each Other” > “China Cat Sunflower” [Pro-Shot] – 7/2/23

From there on, the rest of the show was simply gravy. Dead & Company set themselves up for tonight’s closing show by leaving “The Other One” unfinished prior to “Drums” and “Space”. Returning from orbit, the band found its footing in the peculiar time signature of “The Eleven” ahead of some pre-4th of July fireworks on “U.S. Blues”. There was only one way to close a set of this magnitude, and that was a crushing “Morning Dew”, with the band easing back the throttle for a feel-good encore of “Ripple”.

Dead & Company returns to Folsom Field one last time tonight, July 2nd. With what just transpired last night, the possibilities feel boundless. Who knows, we’ll maybe get that “Tons of Steel” cover everyone’s been gunning for.

Revisit Live For Live Music‘s coverage of Dead & Company at Folsom night one here.

Dead & Company – “Friend Of The Devil” – 7/2/23

[Video: The Zalewski Law Firm]

Dead & Company – “China Cat Sunflower” > “I Know You Rider” (Traditional) – 7/2/23

[Video: The Zalewski Law Firm]

Dead & Company – Folsom Field – Boulder, CO – 7/2/23 – Full Audio

[Audio: Z-Man]

Setlist: Dead & Company | Folsom Field | Boulder, CO | 7/2/23

Set One: Feel Like A Stranger, Brown-Eyed Women, Samson And Delilah (Traditional), Friend Of The Devil, It Hurts Me Too (Tampa Red), Ramble On Rose, High Time > Let It Grow

Set Two: They Love Each Other [1] > China Cat Sunflower > I Know You Rider (Traditional), Fire On The Mountain [2] > The Other One [3] > Drums > Space > The Eleven > U.S. Blues, Morning Dew (Bonnie Dobson)

Encore: Ripple

[1] 1973 version

[2] Mickey Hart rap verse 3

[3] Verse 1