Back in November of 2001, The Connecticut Forum hosted one of its unscripted and unpredictable panels, with Trey Anastasio and Bob Weir sitting in to discuss the night’s theme, “power of music.” Opera diva Beverly Sills and jazz trumpeter Nicholas Payton were also included in the panel with the two heavyweight jam band guitarists. During a segment of the panel, Trey gave an in-depth analysis of his first Grateful Dead experience, with Bobby sitting close by and listening intently while fiddling with his microphone.
To begin the conversation, Trey turned to Bobby and said,
I want to tell you an interesting story, which is that, I was kind of a heavy metal fan and any kind of hard rock. I went to high school at Taft, which is in Watertown, Connecticut, and I saw the Dead at the Hartford Civic Center for the first time ever, in 1983. It had an enormous—it was like getting hit in the head with a baseball bat.
With a massive smirk, Bobby replied, “The pleasure’s mine.”
What it did was, and this is something that we can talk about, it was the first time I had seen in the rock and roll setting—music act as a community builder, where the band members were all listening to each other and improvising, the audience was an active participant in the musical event—it totally changed my concept. Now if we’re talking to Nicholas (Payton), or anyone that has a history in jazz, obviously this has been going on for years, all kinds of music have involved it, but that was my doorway (The Grateful Dead), into that world. It’s kind of interesting that we’re right across the street now from the Civic Center.
The moderator of the panel then asked Bobby if he happens to remember the Dead show from 1983, and Weir responded,
I actually do. As I’ve told this story, we had a particularly hot soundcheck. I had a new slide, and in between tunes we were doing at the soundcheck, I started playing “Yellow Bird” (as he starts to mumble the melody). So, Jerry (Garcia) grabbed his slide, and he put a 1/3rd on top of it starting to harmonize, so we had these twin slides, and it was sort of a hula-nightmare. The rest of the guys just grabbed stuff and started playing, and we had all these huge security guys that were just rolling their eyes. It was one of those hell-ish moments, and then we went on and played the show, and actually ended up releasing an archived recording of that show Trey was at.
Watch Trey Anastasio and Bob Weir’s conversation below:
Trey Anastasio Tells Bob Weir About First Grateful Dead Experience
The Connecticut Forum is a one-of-a-kind nonprofit organization serving Connecticut and beyond with live, unscripted conversations among renowned experts and celebrities, as well as community outreach programs. Past panelists include President Bill Clinton, Toni Morrison, Kurt Vonnegut, Neil deGrasse Tyson, Gloria Steinem, and more than 300 others. To learn more about the Connecticut Forum and information on upcoming panels, head to their website.
This meeting of the two legendary guitarists would not be the last, as Trey Anastasio got the larger-than-life call to fill in for the Jerry (Garcia) position (lead guitar), in the four remaining members 50th-anniversary celebration of the Grateful Dead.
Fare Thee Well – “Throwing Stones” – 7/5/2015
The final string of Fare Thee Well shows in Chicago were groundbreaking. It’s hard not to view Anastasio’s role as lead guitarist for Fare Thee Well as a passing of the torch, with the legacy of the Grateful Dead officially entwined with the future of Phish. The shows were also a testament to the vitality of the Grateful Dead both musically and culturally, even fifty years later. The final show on Sunday, which happened exactly three years ago, broke the record for highest attended Soldier Field event at 71,000 attendees, while the viewers at home who tuned in from home broke the record for the largest pay-per-view audience.
Fare Thee Well – “Scarlet Begonia> Fire On The Mountain” – 7/3/2015
With the passing of three years, the Fare Thee Well shows are still at the forefront of many fans’ minds. While Dead & Company tours with Weir, Bill Kreutzmann, and Mickey Hart (along with John Mayer, Oteil Burbridge, and Jeff Chimenti) and Phil Lesh regularly plays both at his own venue, Terrapin Crossroads, as well as with occasional dates across the U.S., the power that was felt at Soldier Field will never fade away.