This past week, bassist Oteil Burbridge gave fans a chance to get inside his head with an official Reddit AMA. Coming off an incredible month on the road with Dead & Company, fans were eager to hear about his experiences, his views, his vocals, and more. Check out a collection of hot takes and interesting anecdotes shared during Oteil’s AMA:
Reddit: What was your first “holy shit” moment during this past D&C tour?
Oteil: “I’ve had a number of ‘holy shit’ moments, starting from the first day of the first rehearsal and looking across the room and seeing Bill, John, Bob, Mickey and Jeff. My next ‘holy shit’ moment was right after the show in Albany when we realized that the fans like what we were doing and weren’t going to crucify me and John! My third ‘holy shit’ moment was playing my very first stadium show, which I believe was Folsom Field. My fourth ‘holy shit’ moment was the first night I sang China Doll and my fifth was the first night singing Comes a Time. Pretty much every moment since then has been a ‘holy shit’ moment.”
On the differences between playing with the Allman Brothers Band and playing with Dead & Company:
“One of the major and most obvious differences between the two is that the Grateful Dead will play quiet for a lot longer. Also the Grateful Dead has a lot more diversity in song forms. They tend to be longer in some cases and when you take a solo you have to play through the entire form which is more difficult than playing a simple 2 or 3 chord jam. While the Grateful Dead certainly have plenty of 2 and 3 chord jam solo sections, you get these tunes like Crazy Fingers, Lost Sailor/Saint of Circumstance, etc. where you are going to be playing through a lot more chord changes. It’s one of the things that I love about the Garcia ballads… changes like Stella Blue, China Doll… That being said, the ABB came from a really hard-driving, hard-grooving blues and R&B background that was filled with deep voodoo. We also had the country and bluegrass side that tapped into American folk roots. We also got into some really deep grooves and also explored the jazzier side of open-ended jams. That’s where I think the ABB and the Grateful Dead meet is in the longer jam explorations.”
On his “dinosaur stomp” dancing onstage:
What songs do you want to sing for Dead & Co in the future?
“‘To Lay Me Down,’ ‘If I Had The World to Give,’ ‘Sing Me Back Home,’ ‘Mountains of the Moon’ and a few others. I’m working on those now.”
Have you discussed singing any of Brent’s songs? I think your voice would be perfect for a few of them.
“Bill Walton requested this same thing of me and I told him that I would do my best. Sad to say, it will be damn near impossible for me to do it as Brent sings unbelievably high a lot of the time. And he does this in his natural voice, it’s not falsetto. Precious few humans have this ability. I really wish that I could and I will make an attempt but if I can’t do it justice at home I’m not going to butcher it on stage.”
On trying to “sound like the original”:
“You cannot please everyone. I’m first in the line of believing that Phil Lesh is the true sound of the Grateful Dead. Honestly, I miss it myself sometimes. But I cannot be anything other than what I am. Indeed I have encountered some criticism but I also am aware that the vast majority of the fans like what I am doing as different as it is from the original. I try to think more about my energy and putting out positivity than anything else.”
On his favorite Dead and Allman songs to play:
“My favorite ABB songs to play are ‘Cross to Bear,’ ‘Dreams,’ ‘Please Call Home,’ ‘Blue Sky’… there are so many. As far as Dead songs go, since the beginning and still to this day, Grateful Dead ballads are among my top favorites. Both Jerry’s and Bob’s. Obviously I love ‘Stella Blue,’ ‘China Doll,’ ‘Comes a Time,’ ‘Standing on the Moon’… I could go on and on. And also Bob’s ‘Black Throated Wind,’ ‘Looks Like Rain,’ ‘Lost Sailor,’ etc.”
On his favorite place to play:
“Red Rocks when the weather is perfect! But honestly, my favorite place to play – where I’ve never had a bad gig – is a small place called the Fox Theater in Boulder.”