Ready to Die: Three Days of Drugs and Disintegration with The Grateful Dead (via Vice)

gd50We’re clacking and lurching on a Red Line car to the Roosevelt stop. This is the exit for Chicago’s Soldier Field, site of “Fare Thee Well,” the last three shows for the band formerly known as The Grateful Dead. Ask me why I’m here and I can only give you elliptical answers.

On most Sundays, the Grateful Dead are my favorite rock band of all-time, but this seems destined for pure farce—a Necrophiliac spectacle where the hallucinogenic ashes of Saint Jerry spike the Fourth of July fireworks. During intermission, the field will split open and he’ll ascend in a floating mausoleum, wax mannequin covered in tie-die, exhumation costs covered by the largesse of Ben and Jerry. A Jerry hologram was planned, but couldn’t be properly brought to fake life in real time. The Jerry impersonator from Half Baked was waylaid with prior Independence Day plans. One of these is true.

Somehow, four old guys, Bruce Hornsby, and Trey from Phish sold 65 percent more tickets per show than Taylor Swift—more than every summer festival except Coachella. And there may be more floral garlands here. The Golden Road to Devotion now costs a couple mortgage payments. No free press passes either. Entrance meant that you won the lottery, sold spare appendages on the black market, or finessed the Patchouli circuit plug. Maybe you’re one of the hundreds outside with a cardboard sign that reads: “Hoping for a Miracle.” … Read More

(via Vice)

Free Ski Friday Jam

The Deseret News reports:

SALT LAKE CITY — Canadian freestyle skier Sarah Burke succumbed to injuries Thursday morning that she sustained in a fall Jan. 10 while training in the superpipe at Park City Mountain Resort.

University of Utah officials confirmed in a statement that Burke, 29, passed away at 9:22 a.m. surrounded by her family. As a result of the fall, she suffered a ruptured vertebral artery, one of the four major arteries supplying blood to the brain. The rupture of this artery led to severe bleeding. Emergency personnel performed CPR at the site of the accident, during which time she remained without a pulse or spontaneous breathing, the statement said.

She remained in a coma and on life support from the time she arrived at the hospital. Doctors conducted numerous neurological examinations and tests and revealed that Burke had sustained severe, irreversible damage to her brain due to lack of oxygen and blood after the cardiac arrest, the statement said. In accordance with her wishes, her family donated her organs “to save the lives of others.”

With her death, the world loses a world-class athlete, a tireless advocate for women’s athletics and a kind and generous soul.

Burke fought fiercely for the sport’s inclusion into the Winter Olympics. Last spring her efforts were recognized when the IOC announced ski superpipe would be included in the 2014 Winter Games in Sochi, Russia. Burke said it was the fulfillment of a life-long dream.

“In many ways, Sarah defines the sport,” Judge said. “She was one of the first people to get into the pipe and bring skis to the pipe. She’s always been very dedicated in trying to define her sport, and it’s never been about just winning. It’s been about pushing the limits. She’s always been more concerned about making herself the best, rather than comparing herself to other people.”

“I was often the only girl at the comps and competed against the boys for the first few years,” shes writes on the website. “I got my first sponsor when I was 17 (years) old. I had skipped training for Junior Nationals in Whistler and went off skiing in the park. Before I knew it I was traveling and competing all over the world. Ten years later I am still doing what I love and riding for the best companies out there. I have taken countless crashes and broken many bones but I love skiing more and more every year and plan to do it as long as I am enjoying it.”

“I plan to stick around for the 2014 Olympics so don’t be thinkin’ I am going anywhere!” she wrote. “I am really looking forward (to) skiing pow with my friends and pushing my boundaries. I would never have imagined that a girl from little ol’ Midland, Ontario, would be where I am today. So always dream big … you can make it happen.”

You can see a video of one of Burke’s X Games gold medal runs here. More related ski safety news is here.

On the day I learned of Burke’s death, I was in the process of planning my next ski adventure, and all of this had me thinking about what I like to listen to on the way to and on the mountain. Bluegrass for sure. If a heady jam is required, this is a good go-to (contextually legitimated by the appearance of a pedal-steel). I’m all for the celebration-of-life approach, but it feels like something a little more somber may be the order of this day:


(Will you look at that? It’s our boy Bruce. I really did not intend that. The venue also reminded me that I needed to amend my bio here.)

Many times, I associate a song or a group with a particular season. Few bands have a repertoire as extensive as the Dead’s, though, so it probably isn’t surprising that they have solid winter and summer catalogues. In terms of substance and presentation, the above clip clearly draws from both.

Tragic accidents like this are a reminder that athletic pursuits are not a diversion or mere hobby for everyone. In an age in which social reform focuses on the salvation of the minds of our undereducated and underprivileged children, it may be worth remembering that mind and body are connected, and that, for worse or for better, the fate of one is directly tied to the fate of the other.

That’s Just The Way It Is: Bruce Hornsby’s Kid Can Get Up (via rush the court)

All-world junior may not be pulling up from downtown, but he is capable of going with a windmill reverse jam off the bounce.  Check out Keith Hornsby, a freshman guard at UNC Asheville, who also happens to be the basketball-playing child of the three-time Grammy winner.

At UNCA’s Midnight Madness event on Friday night, the Oak Hill product wowed his teammates and the small assembled crowd with his hops, no doubt honed through years of shooting hoops and running drills in the Tidewater gyms with dad (a fairly accomplished area baller when not touring with the Grateful Dead or selling millions of jazz albums).  Keith’s favorite player is Stephen Curry, another son of a famous father, but he’s already got the former Davidson star in the jumping category.  His game consists of a strong jumper and is modeled after another former Virginian star, Duke’s JJ Redick.

Keith’s brother, Russell, matriculated at Oregon this fall as an elite middle-distance runner.  According to this article from The Roanoke Times, Bruce is proud of where his progeny have ended up: “We’ve got both our kids going to two of the great hippie towns in America. They can let their freak flag fly in Asheville and Eugene. All the Deadheads in Asheville and Eugene can come and root for the son of the guy who played with Jerry.”  Spoken like a true rock superstar. … Read More (video embedded)

(via rush the court)

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More Bruce Hornsby content here.
The above article references Hornsby’s
The Old Playground, but he had another, more popular song I always thought was about basketball too. Here’s a short clip of that tune by his Noisemakers, featuring Bonnie Raitt:

Friday (almost) from the road

Yesterday marked the close of the first month in ALDLAND, so it’s time to make like Texas A&M and up the ante.

As promised, this site and its various outlets will be covering college football’s opening weekend live(ish) from Nashville, where Vanderbilt hosts Elon tomorrow night. In that spirit, here’s today’s Friday jam, which happens to include appearances from some folks featured here before (Bruce Hornsby and Jerry Garcia):

Concert report: An evening with Bruce Hornsby, Béla Fleck, the Noisemakers, and the Flecktones

As promised, here is my report from a recent stop on the Bruce Hornsby and the Noisemakers/Béla Fleck and the Flecktones tour.
Last Friday, I had the fortunate opportunity to hear these two bands, lead by two masters, share a stage. It was hot and pretty humid, but the sun was out and there was no threat of rain. Concertgoers snacked on picnic dinners before the show began.

I’ll leave the traditional review to a professional and offer some reflections of my own. Keep reading…

CD review: It actually is Rocket Science

I just received a copy of Rocket Science, the latest release from Béla Fleck and the Flecktones. I haven’t made it all the way through the disc just yet, but fans of the group’s previous releases will be right at home with this album.

Rocket Science marks the return of original Flecktone Howard Levy, who left the band in 1992. His piano and harmonica definitely are a noticeable (re)addition to the band’s sound, and they anchor the overall sound and provide it with a fullness missing on some thinner releases like Flight of the Cosmic Hippo, while keeping the band from soaring through vast soundscapes like they did on Live Art and Outbound.

Still, the sound is good and familiar. What struck me in the early listening was how apparent it was, perhaps for the first time (at least to this degree), that this is a jazz group. I never balked at their situation in the jazz racks at the local radio station, but listening to Rocket Science, it’s clear they belong there. Maybe it’s Levy’s piano, but more likely it’s the more cohesively rhythmic ensemble playing that populates the meat of these songs.

Longtime saxophonist Jeff Coffin– he was with the group from 1998 until he left in 2008 to fill in for Dave Matthews’ fallen parter LeRoi Moore– is missed, but like all of Fleck’s bands’ lineups, they constantly remind you of their diverse strengths, never letting you consider potential weaknesses. Looking at some full-album reviews, I and you can look forward to some masterful work by bass guitar master Victor Wooten in the later tracks, which isn’t surprising news, but it certainly is welcome.

I first saw the Flecktones in Michigan circa 1998, when they were opening for the band Coffin eventually would join, and I saw them on their own when I was in college in New York. Back in MI, I’m planning to catch them again tonight, when they’ll share an outdoor stage with Bruce Hornsby and the Noisemakers. It should be summertime sonic fun of the first degree, and I look forward to noting the results in the coming days.