The rumors that we were hearing have indeed been confirmed as true: the surviving members of The Grateful Dead will reunite over Fourth of July weekend for three shows at Soldier Field in Chicago, and they will be joined by Trey Anastasio, Bruce Hornsby, and Jeff Chimenti. Billboard broke the news this morning with great quotes from everyone involved in the project.
The site choice of Soldier Field is an obvious one given that the Grateful Dead’s last performance with Jerry Garcia was at the same spot on July 9, 1995 (a month later Garcia passed away). Peter Shapiro is producing the shows with Madison House Presents.
Bob Weir is quoted as saying they wanted to keep the shows simple and clean after weighing options of doing either a festival or just an evening with the band. And supposedly Goldenvoice wanted a piece of it and offered up the site of Coachella in Indio as a potential spot to play the reunion.
As for why Trey Anastasio is at the heart of the guitar sound for this run, Billboard had this nugget of info:
The Phish frontman says that accepting the invitation was a no-brainer. “I got a really heart-warming letter from Phil saying that he and the other three guys had talked about it and hoped I would do it,” Anastasio tells Billboard. “I didn’t hesitate for a second to say yes. It’s an absolute honor to be part of this final chapter.”
Ticketing will be handled in a classic manner:
In the tradition of the original Grateful Dead Ticketing Service, tickets for the shows — named Fare Thee Well for a lyric in the Garcia/Robert Hunter song “Brokedown Palace” — will be available to fan club members on a first-come, first-served basis from Feb. 9 to 11. A local public presale will occur Feb. 12-13; a general public on-sale starts Feb. 14. Jerry Garcia’s daughter Trixie Garcia will officially announce the shows on Dead50.net today (Jan. 16).
Here is the announcement video:
Some more quotes from Trey about the Dead:
“I saw my first Dead show at the Hartford Civic Center in 1980 when I was 16,” he says. “After that, I went to as many shows as I could, sometimes even standing right in front of Jerry, up on the rail, a few feet away from his amplifier. I’ve been listening, going through the history, and it has been really fun.”
“I’ve realized that it’s no coincidence that they named their best album ever American Beauty,” he says. “Jerry Garcia was a great American master and the Grateful Dead are not just a genuine piece of musical history, but also an important part of American history. This is a band, born right at the beginning of electric rock, that took the American tradition and moved it forward. They really embodied the American concept of freedom, rolling around the country with a ginormous gang of people and the mindset that ‘you can come if you want, you can leave if you want. We don’t know what’s going to happen. All we know is we’re not looking back.’ What could be more American?”
Wow. Better start booking those hotel rooms, folks.