Tuesday, August 9, was the 16th anniversary of the death of Jerry Garcia, the lead singer of the Grateful Dead. In honor of the late songwriter and musician, the Grateful Dread, a band of Island musicians who play Grateful Dead songs with a reggae flair, and play every Tuesday night at Nectar’s, decided to pay homage not with a moment of silence, but with an extra long guitar solo.
“The Dead have been a major influence on all of our lives and when he died it had a major impact,” said Wes Nagy, the pianist and organ player for the band. “It was like the end of an era for probably all of us because he really was the kingpin of the whole Dead as far as we’re concerned.”
The Grateful Dread have been playing for many years around the Island and have something of a following reminiscent of the famous Deadheads, who would follow the Grateful Dead from concert to concert.
Before the show last week, the five members of the band hung out in a room backstage talking about the summer. The band members include drummer Tom Majors, bassist M’Talewa, guitarist Mike Benjamin, guitarist Jon Zeeman and Mr. Nagy
“It’s been going well,” said Mr. Benjamin. “We started off pretty slow and then just like last summer we’ve been building up ... and getting really good crowds,”
The crowd last Tuesday was raucous, singing along to many of the songs such as Sugaree, Casey Jones, and Peggy-O. Midway through the set Mr. Benjamin took a moment to address the crowd about the anniversary of Mr. Garcia’s death.
“We’re not going to take a moment of silence,” he said. “We’re going to take a moment of playing music.”
The band then launched into Ripple, a signature Jerry tune.
There is a road, no simple highway
Between the dawn and the dark of night
And if you go, no one may follow,
That path is for your steps alone.