ATN's Music News of the World: The Grateful Dead

Grateful Dead Psychedelic Museum Proposed For S.F.Surviving members consider reuniting for grand opening on the eve of the turn of the century.Addicted To Noise Senior Writer Gil Kaufman reports : Two years after the death of their guiding light, guitarist Jerry Garcia, the surviving members of the Grateful Dead have announced plans to honor their leader and the band's musical legacy with an ambitious, interactive multi-media museum they've appropriately dubbed Terrapin Station.The plans are to erect the $40 million project, named after one of the Dead's most popular albums (1977), at a still-undetermined location in their hometown of San Francisco to open at the turn of the century. The facility would include a state-of-the-art theater, a multi-sensory psychedelic dance hall called "The Wheel," and several rooms of archival Dead material and music."The whole idea is to simulate a Grateful Dead experience, from start to finish, for people who have never been to a Dead show, or for fans who can no longer achieve that experience," said Cathy Simon, the design principle on the project, which is being designed by the San Francisco-based firm Simon Martin-Vegue Winkelstein Moris.In the latest issue of the Grateful Dead Almanac, the band's official newsletter sent out free of charge to more than 200,000 Deadheads, editor Gary Lambert, paints a picture of the proposed museum as "a place that is equal parts interactive museum, sensory playground and social/cultural laboratory ... a circus of the synapses ... evoking the most dazzling sounds, sights, and paramusical phenomena of a Grateful Dead concert ."In addition, at least one Dead member has discussed the possibility of the band performing at the opening of the museum on New Year's Eve 1999. However, the band's spokesperson, Dennis McNally, said that it was too early to speculate whether the band, which has not played together since Garcia death in 1995, would reunite. "[Dead Bassist] Phil [Lesh] said and volunteered that if this all magically happens he would expect the band to re-unite to christen it," said McNally. "It's a concept that's at least two years away and to get excited about it is to distort the reality."The idea for some kind of Dead museum dates back at least to the early '90s. In mid-1994, Dead manager Cameron Sears said that the group was thinking about some kind of Bay Area-based facility to make the Dead's extensive archives and artifacts available for public viewing.Lambert said current plans call for a rooftop dance garden, the Jerry Garcia Theater (an intimate performance space), a vast permanent collection of Grateful Dead instruments and artifacts, an on-site research facility and library and numerous listening stations that will allow fans to sample the "greatest treasures" of the Grateful Dead's official tape vault. "This whole project worked like most things do in the Dead camp," said Lambert. "[Lighting designer] Candace Brightman had some ideas that knocked people out, each band member had their own ideas and we also got some input from the Deadhead community."Although Sue Lee, Director of Economic Development for the city of San Francisco, said her office had not yet been contacted by the Dead's representatives to discuss Terrapin Station, she said the city would certainly be interested in the project. "We would love to talk to them," said Lee. "We would be interested not just because of the cache of the band's name, but also because San Francisco is a destination for all kinds of folks and this would be another attraction for people who want to visit and for residents." Lee said there are a number of possible sites for such a project, including waterfront properties scheduled for re-development.Lambert said several Dead representatives had traveled to Southern California to visit the headquarters of the company that is designing the technology that will fuel "The Wheel," and that they were all impressed. "These are not guys who are easily blown-away by gizmos," said Lambert. "The plan the company has devised uses very, very high-definition visuals and sound that completely surround you and that is supposed to be very evocative of the experience of going to a Grateful Dead show."One of the ideas on the table in planning meetings, Simon said, was to place cameras in the floor of "The Wheel" that will be triggered by footsteps, instantly generating a photo of the fan that will then be integrated into the psychedelic light show swirling all around. "It's meant as a place to get psychedelicized without acid," said McNally of the room, which is to be a totally-immersive environment meant to simulate the "Second Set" of a Dead show through the use of light, sound and holographic imagery. "But if you did take acid..."There are also plans for an intimate venue called the "Jerry Garcia Theater," that will allow the band members to perform with their various side projects as well as invite other musicians to jam in a meticulously-designed acoustic dream hall owned and operate by the band. "The idea is for it not to be a theme park, or a static museum," said Simon, "but a living, vital place that expresses the energy of the band and their musical connections to other Bay Area artists, past, present and future."As a link to the past, plans call for Terrapin Station to house the collections of the Center for the Preservation of Music Culture and the Musician's Reference Library, a collection of sheet music and rare archival recordings that present a veritable bible of influences on the band's music, dating back to some of the first recordings ever committed to wax-coated cylinders.Simon said it is impossible to tell if the project could be delivered for the $40 million price tag suggested by the group's representatives, because "nobody has ever worked on this kind of a project yet, one that is this specialized on this kind of group."In an effort to raise the first several million dollars to get the project off the ground, the band is offering a three-CD collector's item set entitled The Terrapin Limited that documents an entire show at the Capital Center in Landover, Md. from March of 1990. The set, available only at the band's website (www.dead.net), or through an 800-number, is just the first of many planned money-raising opportunities."You're talking about a $40 million budget. That's a ton of money," said McNally, who insisted that it was, however, not out of the question. "There are various ways to raise the money and we're starting with the bake-sale method with the CD, generating the seed money."McNally estimated that 100,000 sales of the collection could raise $4-$5 million, after which it would be time to hit up "banks, investors, Deadheads. We'll just attack it from all angles."***The Verve Singer's 'Cosmic' Encounter With Oasis' Noel GallagherTwo songwriters discuss life's bittersweet symphony after crossing paths on busy N.Y. streets.Addicted To Noise Staff Writer Chris Nelson reports : NEW YORK -- Some might say that a chance meeting by Oasis mastermind Noel Gallagher and The Verve's main brain Richard Ashcroft -- arguably Britain's two most important songwriters at the moment -- in one of the biggest cities in the world is a giant coincidence.But not Ashcroft. He described their run in in the Big Apple (pop. 7 million) on Sunday as a cosmically appropriate convergence of two creative souls headed along a similar path."I met him yesterday for a Guinness -- we just bumped into each other," Ashcroft said, sitting down with bandmate Simon Jones Monday for a beer at the West Village's Cafe Bistro."When we see each other it isn't just mutual backslapping," said Ashcroft, 26, a longtime pal of Gallagher. "It's about really making dreams real, making your beliefs beyond belief. It's inspirational."Though they've yet to match the mega-success of their former tour partners in Oasis, bassist Jones vows unabashedly that The Verve will do just that. And with their new single "Bitter Sweet Symphony" -- already a monster hit in the U.K. and landing at #32 with a bullet this week on Billboard's modern rock charts -- The Verve are poised to make their move.Dropped into playlists among the current ska revival or residual summertime hits from Smash Mouth and Sugar Ray, "Bitter Sweet Symphony" seems to have come from leftfield. On first listen the song sets to pricking listeners' ears with its massive drum beat set behind an infectious string refrain, which, the band hastens to note, they composed themselves. (The orchestral bit that they sampled sans permission from a symphonic Stones album -- which threw them into legal hot water with copyright owner Allen Klein -- lays in the song's background.)In front of the band's aural majesty, singer and guitarist Ashcroft sings about life itself as being a "bitter sweet symphony," confessing his wish "to hear some sounds that recognize the pain in me."Ashcroft, never one for false modesty, said the band was struck immediately by the song's brilliance. "We knew we had never heard anything like that before in our lives," he said. "That feeling sometimes makes you elated, then you're excited. But other times it can be quite frightening, because once you are stepping in those places -- places where no other footprints have been before ... Not many musicians step in those places anymore. But the song's beyond us, and it has to be out.""I've been doing this for seven, eight years of my life," added Simon, 25, "and when we were in the studio -- because I know what good music sounds like -- I knew it was fucking amazing. I knew it was going to do well in England, but then you see it going on all over the world."The success of "Bitter Sweet Symphony" -- along with its follow-up, "The Drugs Don't Work" and Urban Hymns, the album that debuted this week on the Billboard charts at #63 -- has freed The Verve to focus more intently on their art, according to Ashcroft. Does that mean we shouldn't expect the band to be destroying hotel rooms on its upcoming American tour?"I couldn't rule anything out," he joked before returning to his more serious side. "You don't think of [Beach Boy] Brian Wilson [destroying hotel rooms] when he was making Pet Sounds -- although obviously he frolicked around a bit. But I'm sure 99.9 percent of his time around that period was spent thinking, instructing, composing, creating music. We're talking about the same thing here. We now know we have something. We ain't gonna go out and abuse it now."What they are going to do is to keep on making albums at a rate that many big bands don't these days. The songwriter said The Verve already have their next album written, but declined to discuss song titles or sounds. "All I'll say is look, the songs are gonna get better," said Ashcroft. "Sonically we're gonna get better. It's another giant step."***Chart Watch: Stones, Dylan Debut In Top 10Public excited about new albums from rock legends the Rolling Stones and Bob Dylan.Addicted To Noise Staff Writer Chris Nelson reports : Take a quick glance at this week's Billboard album chart, and you're likely to think you're looking at a top-10 listing from many years past.Nestled in at #3 on its debut showing is the Rolling Stones' Bridges to Babylon, while seven notches below sits Bob Dylan with Time Out of Mind. Of course, a quick look at chart toppers LeAnn Rimes and Boyz II Men reveals that it is indeed 1997, not '65. But with Fleetwood Mac's The Dance also hanging in there at #8, it's enough to make an aging boomer do a double take.Or cause a young rock aficionado to wonder what's going on.While the Stones' high debut is no doubt impressive, the band typically sells big its first week out. Bridges To Babylon, their best received album this decade, moved 160,000 copies for the week ended Oct. 5, according to SoundScan, which tracks sales. The venerable rockers' last album, Voodoo Lounge bowed at #2 with sales of 153,000 in 1994.Boosting the World's Greatest Rock & Roll Band's recent surge in popularity is their current U.S. tour, a hits-heavy outing that has posted sell-outs throughout the nation.More notable than the Stones' showing, however, is Bob Dylan's incredible debut at #10. In recent weeks, the folk-rock legend -- who has an inverted reputation for having the most to say in his songs and the least to say to the press -- has appeared on the cover of Newsweek and in a lengthy treatment by the New York Times. Time Out of Mind, the 56-year-old's 41st album has garnered critical raves nearly across the board, which likely bolstered its opening week's sales of 102,000.To fans who know him only through his son Jakob, leader of the Wallflowers, the impressive first week's showing could prove something of an awakening, and introduction to an artist they might want to become more aquainted with.Several other noteworthy debuts appeared this week, though none were as lofty as Dylan's or the Stones'. Highest of these was the self-titled sophomore album from trip-hop ambassadors Portishead, which hit #21 (53,000). Their countrymen in The Verve, who are just beginning to gain popularity in America thanks to their stunning single "Bitter Sweet Symphony," charted at #63 with Urban Hymns on sales of 21,000.Meanwhile, rock-poet Patti Smith planted herself at #152 with the transcendent Peace and Noise (8,000), her follow-up to last year's acclaimed Gone Again.Over at hype central, the Prodigy dropped two spots to #26, but continued to hold tight in the top 30 with The Fat Of The Land. That groundbreaking album has thus far sold 1.2 million copies; it moved 45,000 of those this week, four grand short of last week's sales. While Oasis dropped only three notches this week to #37, the British mega-stars' Be Here Now, nearly two months after its release, sits just shy of 390,000 copies sold. It needs to move 110,000 more copies before it can be certified as gold. U2's Pop is not in the Top 200.Finally, in the infectious hook department, Chumbawamba reaped the biggest weekly gains. Their pub chant "Tubthumping" rose two spots to #19 on the singles chart, while the Tubthumper album climbed from #60 to #48. In addition, newcomers Smash Mouth were "Walking On the Sun" with a four-spot rise to #33 with Fush Yu Mang.On the other hand, several albums sporting catchy cuts took their lumps. Third Eye Blind fell 10 spots to #54 (though the single "Semi-Charmed Life" only dropped one spot to #8), while Sugar Ray's Floored slipped four to #23.Of course, Elton John's record-breaking tribute to Princess Diana, "Candle in the Wind '97" ruled the singles chart, selling 1.2 million copies this week for a grand total of 4.6 million.Filling in the top 10 were: LeAnn Rimes (#1); Boyz II Men (#2); the Soul Food soundtrack (#4); Mariah Carey (#5); Master P (#6); Aqua (#7); and Trisha Yearwood (#9).***Sonic Youth's Experimental Journey Three members of the band let CBGB's crowd in on their new direction.Addicted To Noise Staff Writer Chris Nelson reports : NEW YORK -- Three-quarters of Sonic Youth offered an amazing live preview of the band's next album on Monday night, as they played to a packed house at the legendary CBGB's in celebration of the New York screening of the Neil Young documentary Year of the Horse. Though Young himself was at the performance (tucked in the basement), this show was wholly owned by the Sonics. The six new songs the group laid down testified to a vibrant collective that continues to be excited by the challenge of creating experimental and improvisational works -- like "Slaapkamers Met Slagroom" (RealAudio excerpt), a piece of music on their latest CD "single" -- that are also thoroughly engaging, even for a crowd who'd likely never heard this music before.A single microphone positioned stage left in the shadow of a speaker stack served early notice that this was to be an evening of instrumentals. As Kim Gordon and Steve Shelley situated themselves on-stage at a quarter past midnight, Thurston Moore stepped to the mike. "Congratulations to [director] Jim [Jarmusch], Neil, Crazy Horse, and everyone who worked on the film," the lanky, still boy-faced-at-almost-40 singer said.Moore then explained that guitarist Lee Ranaldo was in Europe at a poetry slam, but that the skeleton crew version of the band was going to play anyway. And with that, the Sonic Youth trio opened a 45-minute window onto the process of adventurous experimenting that has most recently spawned a series of 12-inch singles on their own record label, and that band members say will also color their 12th album, due out next year.Moore cut into the first song, "Anagrama" (off the first single released on group's Sonic Youth Records label), with a barrel full of guitar feedback that dropped quickly into a clean strumming pattern that he held with Gordon, who also played guitar rather than her standard bass. Behind them, drummer Shelley held bongos that he played with a single brush. In the first movement of the song, Gordon held the guitar rhythm as Moore tinkered with high notes in sets of three, then fell back into his distorto-thunder for five seconds. He then handed direction to Gordon, who picked up a distortion pedal and ran it up her fret board in lieu of a bottleneck. Soon after, Shelley commandeered the song, abandoning the bongos and brush for sticks and his full kit.Here, the work turned fully wave-like, undulating on Shelley's beat and the joint strum of the guitars. Though the song was quintessential Sonic Youth, its waviness also paid fitting tribute to Young, who has certainly been known to set himself adrift on musical crests. Eventually, the piece found its way back to its starting point, where it dissipated into high-string plucking after a full eight minutes.The rest of the performance featured similarly lengthy explorations, rendered with continually evocative aural textures. During the second, number, for example, Moore tapped out a slow, plaintive solo that sounded as if it were written for a fallen comrade. Then as Shelley shifted his concentration from a tiny cymbal perched between his legs over to the snare and the rest of his kit, the piece became no longer a lament, but rather something more akin to an in-the-thick-of-it remembrance of a full life, including the good, the bad and the ugly.At other points, Moore posed questions with high notes, or doubled himself over as he mashed his strings into the guitar pickups to elicit squeals. During the fifth song, he looked like a towering Frankenstein's monster as he tapped in succession one foot pedal with his right foot, then another with his left. Meanwhile, Gordon manipulated broad crescendos, and Shelley's beat offered counterpoint to the occasionally hypnotic sounds coming from the twin guitars. Several songs featured gliding movements that said this is ambient music, made for an exciting, engaged life.Throughout it all, the makeshift Youth proved that they continue to earn their reputation as one of the most exhilarating contemporary bands. Many wondered where the band would turn after "The Diamond Sea," the closing opus from 1995's Washing Machine. Apparently the group is turning back in on itself, setting up shop in their own studio to make music that is first and foremost, personally invigorating. By remaining true to that muse -- rather than trying to stamp out a "standard" Sonic Youth album -- the band must hope that the sounds it creates will continue to invigorate the audience that has followed them down unknown roads for years and years.How appropriate that the group chose CBGB's, where modern punk was born over two decades ago, to test such waters. Here was a band short a key member, playing a series of instrumentals that no one had heard -- and the crowd was enraptured. Of course they were at times watching to see what innovative technique the Sonics would pull out of their bag next, but more often the audience was entwined in the band's utterly captivating sounds.After the show, the threesome returned to the stage to begin packing up. As she zipped up a soft-shell case around her guitar, Gordon was asked if the night's set was, in fact, an indication of what fans can expect on the next Sonic Youth album."Yeah," Gordon said enthusiastically, nodding her head up and down.***Smearless Foo Fighters Show True ColourDave Grohl and company prove Pat Smear does not make or break great rock bands.Addicted To Noise correspondent Dakota Smith reports : NEW YORK -- If he had his way, Dave Grohl would probably not talk at all on stage. He just isn't one to chat it up with a crowd.Still, there are some recent Foo Fighters developments even he couldn't get around. Not entirely at least. So, there he was Sunday night, trying to address the issue in his characteristically awkward, yet endearing way."I think a lot has happened since I saw you last," Grohl acknowledged before the sold-out crowd gathered at Roseland Theater that night.Whether he was referring specifically to the recent replacement of grunge icon/guitarist Pat Smear (who'd come over with Grohl from Nirvana, and who was, so long ago, a member of the Germs) with Franz Stahl (who once played with Grohl in the D. C. punk band Scream), the replacement of former drummer William Goldsmith with Taylor Hawkins (who previously played with Alanis Morissette), Grohl's newly designed goatee, or all three, was not clear.What was clear is that this was one of the first post-Smear shows for the Foo Fighters and no one in the audience seemed to care too much that the former Foo was gone. Rather, most seemed thrilled at the chance to see Grohl performing some of his latest tunes, with or without Smear.After all, this is his band. These are his songs. This is his gig.There is a dorky charm about watching Grohl on-stage and that night, dressed in a blue long-sleeve T-shirt and blue jeans, he looked -- in true punk style -- as rock 'n' roll ready as a gas station attendant. Still somewhat uncomfortable as a frontman, the ex-Nirvana drummer chose to acknowledge this rather than put on an act. After trying to make small talk with the audience at one point, he just gave up. "You know, I still don't know how to talk to the audience -- pull off rock talk," he said sheepishly. "I feel like a dork."But talking is not what Grohl and the Foo Fighters are about. They are about relentlessly driving melodies and walls of sound. They are about establishing themselves as front-runners in the alternative music scene -- with or without Smear.Performing older songs off the Foo's first album, "For All The Cows," "Weenie Beenie," "Big Me" and "I'll Stick Around," at times screeching and howling the lyrics, Grohl's energy inspired the shoulder-to-shoulder crowd to dance and body-surf the night away. That is, when they weren't singing along to the Foo's latest tunes.Most of the crowd seemed to know most of the words to the hits off The Colour and The Shape, "Everlong" and "Monkey Wrench," as well as the slower ballads "Doll" and "Up In Arms." Most were so caught up in the color and shape of things on stage, that it wouldn't have mattered if Smear came out to announce he had decided to return after all. Certainly, the thrill of watching the aristocratic, flamboyant Smear play off the adolescent goofiness of Dave Grohl was a rock marriage made in heaven.But, in the end, it's Grohl's music that makes us care -- not necessarily his collaboration with Smear. If he did anything Sunday night, it was to prove that. (Although he hardly needs to prove anything at this point; after all, the first Foo Fighters album was the work of just one man, Dave Grohl, who played all the instruments, wrote the songs, produced it and sang.)On this night, helping Grohl rock the house was new guitarist Stahl, who held more than his own, lending his capable guitar chops and enthusiastic vocals. If there was any doubt that Smear's departure (announced to the world prior to the MTV Music Video Awards last month) would weaken the band, there isn't anymore -- not at least from the perspective of the capacity crowd who'd come to see the Foos minus one.Actually, make that two.The band was also introducing its relatively new drummer (who came on board this past March) -- in a decidedly Grohlish way. The show opened with Grohl and Hawkins, each behind a drum kit, bashing out "This Is A Call." Grohl, hanging behind the skins again, was a pure joy to watch. Beyond the physical similarities between the two drummers, there was the added charm of watching Grohl encourage the young and talented beat man with broad smiles and stage antics.To the left of the stage stood Stahl, who had played with Grohl in the '80s, in the hardcore punk outfit Scream. A bit stiff, more content to look down at his guitar strings than face the audience, Stahl's offerings were subtle yet unmistakable. For his part, Grohl didn't look much at Franz, or play near him during the performance, perhaps content to let the new guy establish himself on his own.The band even had a bit of a laugh at the expense of Fleetwood Mac, managing to start and close "Big Me" with riffs from Stevie Nick's song "Rhiannon."Grohl wasn't the only rocker out to prove something that night. Playing before the Foo Fighters, and taking the place of Scott Weiland, was singer Dave Coutts joined by the band formerly known as Stone Temple Pilots, now known as Talk Show.Coutts (who previously sang in Ten Inch Men) and the rest of the band drew curiosity, but not necessarily adoration from the young, sulky-looking, Urban Outfitters-clad crowd. No one seemed particularly taken with either the singer's stage posturing and gesticulating hips, or the band's haze of heavy guitars."He's kind of sleazy-looking," one 15-year-old boy confided in me, after looking over the bleach-haired singer."Yeah," his friend agreed. "I mean, they were just OK."It was the Foo Fighters, of course, that the kid had come to see and when the lights came on to unveil not one, but two drum kits on the stage (one obviously meant for Grohl), there was a surge of anticipation and applause that must have left Talk Show wondering what was up.Grohl and the Foos spent the rest of the night answering any questions about their growing popularity with songs including their closer, "New Way Home" (off The Colour And The Shape).By the night's end, the Foo Fighters came back on stage to play an encore performance of the Gary Numan song "Down in the Park," with Grohl's straining, hoarse vocals backed by Taylor's slow drum beats coming hauntingly close to that classic Nirvana edge.Never mind that Grohl has a lot of ghosts around him, his energy and talent transport his constantly evolving band to new and intriguing places. It should be interesting to see where he takes them next and who comes along for the ride.

Enjoy this piece?

… then let us make a small request. AlterNet’s journalists work tirelessly to counter the traditional corporate media narrative. We’re here seven days a week, 365 days a year. And we’re proud to say that we’ve been bringing you the real, unfiltered news for 20 years—longer than any other progressive news site on the Internet.

It’s through the generosity of our supporters that we’re able to share with you all the underreported news you need to know. Independent journalism is increasingly imperiled; ads alone can’t pay our bills. AlterNet counts on readers like you to support our coverage. Did you enjoy content from David Cay Johnston, Common Dreams, Raw Story and Robert Reich? Opinion from Salon and Jim Hightower? Analysis by The Conversation? Then join the hundreds of readers who have supported AlterNet this year.

Every reader contribution, whatever the amount, makes a tremendous difference. Help ensure AlterNet remains independent long into the future. Support progressive journalism with a one-time contribution to AlterNet, or click here to become a subscriber. Thank you. Click here to donate by check.

Close