Friday, December 02, 2005

Phil Lesh and Friends at GMU Patriot Center

From Diamondback:

Phil Lesh and Friends at GMU Patriot Center
December 02, 2005

The Grateful Dead wasn’t known for its impressive catalog of music or its studio albums. The band became legendary because of its live act.

Ten years after The Dead disbanded, former bassist Phil Lesh carries on this tradition. Lesh, 65, who now fronts his own band, Phil Lesh and Friends, tours rigorously performing a catalog of his own music and puts on jam-packed concerts filled with improvisation and masterful musicianship.

But before Phil Lesh joined The Grateful Dead, he had never even picked up a bass guitar. He was deeply rooted in avante-garde classical stylings and had played the trumpet and violin in his youth. But Lesh learned on the fly. Instead of being influenced by some of the bigger jazz or rock bassists of the day, he did something very few rock bassists have done: Drew from his classical backgrounds, specifically Bach.

Lesh was a pioneer in the bass community for taking an instrument, which at the time was simply hidden behind the guitar and drums mimicking bass notes on the beat, and bringing it to the forefront. He developed intricate bass progressions and riffs that walked their own course and took rock music to a place it had never gone before.

After Jerry Garcia died in 1995, Lesh eventually joined up with the band’s living members and formed The Other Ones and toured performing Grateful Dead material. Lesh soon went solo and eventually formed his own band and record label, Lapis Music, under Columbia Records.
Earlier this year, Lesh released a book titled Searching for the Sound: My Life with the Grateful Dead. The book was released this year in time for the band’s 40th anniversary. It is the only book to date about the band written by a founding member.

Phil Lesh and Friends performs tonight at the George Mason University Patriot Center as part of the Shadow of the Moon winter tour. Tickets for the show are $40. Doors open at 6 p.m.; show begins at 7:30 p.m. For more information, call (703) 993-3000.
— By Michael Barnett


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