Phil Lesh

chat with David Gans 10/11/97
Maritime Hall, San Francisco CA


David Gans: Hello, man.

Phil Lesh: Good evening, troops.

[crowd cheers]

Gans: Don't make me wear my earplugs.

Lesh: Anybody got any earplugs out there? I bet not!

Gans: You should. No wise concert-goer should be without earplugs. End of public service announcement. Thanks for bein' here, everybody. Okay, here's a question. Can anybody in the back understand a word we're saying?


Lesh: "Habituculalrly fondseed." What'd I just say? [pause] It's, "Ivoroiled overalls which he habituculalrly fondseed." [from James Joyce, "Finnegans Wake"]

Gans: Hey, could I have a little more Phil in my monitor, please?


Lesh: Are you sure? Are you sure that's what you want, Dave?

Gans: We just, before we came out here, I asked Phil if he had any idea whose idea it was for us to come out on stage together and talk like a couple of TV goons. And he said he thought it was my idea. And I politely informed him --

Lesh: I just assumed it was your idea, Dave!

Gans: No, I wouldn't have thought of this.

Lesh: Yeah. . .

Gans: So, it's not that I mind doing it, it's just --

Lesh: Whoever's idea it was: stand forth, and be counted. I wanna know who it was.

Gans: Oh, sure, cover up for 'em.

Lesh: It wasn't *my* idea, man!

Gans: No. Okay.

Lesh: Honest!

Gans: Well, I just wanted you to know it wasn't my idea.

Lesh: Oh.

Gans: Anyway, we have some news we wanna tell you --

Lesh: It's not a *bad* idea.

Gans: Well, no, it's fun. We're having fun.

[horrible feedback]

Lesh: Oh!

Gans: Don't do that any more!

Lesh: That's really fun.

Gans: We have some things we want to tell you about that involve this very room. Why don't you start by explaining what happens here on December 7th.

Lesh: Well, on December 7th, we're gonna have a sing-along benefit here at the Maritime Hall [450 Harrison Street], and it's gonna be called PhilHarmonia, which you can describe as "the land of love of harmony." And we're gonna create that place right here at the Maritime Hall on December 7th, and it's a benefit for three excellent charities in the Tenderloin here in San Francisco: the Central City Hospitality House, the Tenderloin Children's Playground [and Recreation Center], and the Bay Area Women's and Children's Center. And they are all doing excellent work in the Tenderloin area.


Lesh: But the thing that's unique about this benefit is, it's not gonna be so much a performance as it is -- well, let me put it this way. For years, the combination of the Grateful Dead band and the Deadheads has always amazed me; the energy that flowed between us. And for a long time --


Lesh: -- for a long time I just sort of took it for granted, because there we were on the stage performing, and there you guys were, feeding us the energy, and it just went on and on like that. But now that we're not touring, I started wondering, what could be done with this synergy. And so, then it occurred to me, what if the audience *was* the band? Instead of the audience playing the band, what if the audience was the band?


Lesh: So, what we're gonna try to do is to try to make the audience be the band. Or "allow," I should say, the audience to be the band. And we're gonna sing together. We'll sing some songs that we all know, and then we'll sing some songs that we're gonna teach you guys.

Gans: We're talkin' about some seriously hokey shit here.


Lesh: And you're gonna love it to death.

Gans: I'm serious. But he's also invited some ringers to sort of sit among the audience --

Lesh: Yeah, I can't do all this by myself, and I'm not that great a singer anyway, so I got some people who could really sing. Edie Brickell's gonna be here, Bruce Hornsby --


Lesh: -- Bobby Weir is gonna be here. Graham Nash has agreed to join us.

Gans: Yaaaay!


Lesh: Donna Jean [(Godchaux) McKay], who used to sing with the Grateful Dead.


Lesh: Jackie LaBranch, from the Jerry Garcia Band. David Grisman's gonna come along.

Gans: Yaaaay!


Lesh: And we also have a very special guest, Michael Tilson Thomas, the Music Director of the San Francisco Symphony's gonna come along, and show us some weird little songs.

Gans: MTT plays a mean piano.

Lesh: Oh, yeah. And he knows some funny songs, too.

Gans: So, we hope you will be back here on December 7th, to be part of --

Lesh: And it's really gonna be a lot of fun, and it's gonna make ya feel real good.

Gans: Possibly the most G-rated thing ever to happen in Grateful Dead Land.

Lesh: Or in Maritime Hall, I betcha! [chuckle] So bring your families, you know. Bring your kids. And be ready to sing, though, because at one point one of the things we're gonna do is, we're gonna divide the audience into singing groups -- voices -- so that women who have high voices and women who have low voices will be on one side, the men that have high voices and men that have low voices will be on the other side, and we're gonna sing rounds. You guys know what rounds are? Yeah, lots of fun singing rounds.

Man in audience: Do it for 24 hours!

Gans: Do it for 24 -- no, that's Bobby McFerrin's shtick, to do it for 24 hours. We're just gonna do it for a few hours.

Lesh: Yeah, nobody can -- who can do it for 24 hours?

Gans: Well, Bobby McFerrin and his people --

Lesh: Bobby McFerrin?

Gans: -- and they do that at Grace Cathedral at Christmas time.

Lesh: Oh, okay.

Gans: Don't they go on for several days at a time? Well, *anyway* --

Lesh: Wow.

Gans: -- you can probably find out the details about it on the Grateful Dead Hotline [(415) 457-6388] in a day or three.

Lesh: Yeah, there'll be something about it on the Hotline, and if you have access to a computer, there'll be a site or a button on DeadNet, that'll tell you somethin' about it.

Gans: Okay, who here is online?

[a few cheers]

Lesh: Ah, we have some netheads out there. . .

Gans: Actually, see, you're seriously outnumbered, geeks, so --

Lesh: Yeah, all you *nerds* --

Gans: *We* geeks are seriously outnumbered.

Lesh: [laugh]

Gans: They're all down front. So in the shorter term, I have the pleasure and privilege of announcing that Phil is gonna be playing on this very stage with a group of our musical friends that he met a few weeks ago at a different benefit. On Thursday, November 6th, it's gonna be my band, The Broken Angels, which is a whole bunch of different fun guys, and special guest bass player Phil Lesh.


Lesh: Yeah, we'll do a few songs together, and --

Gans: He's already said no to "Pride of Cucamonga," so don't bring it up.

[crowd: awww]

Lesh: No requests! *No* requests!

Gans: But, I'm workin' on him.

Lesh: [laugh]

[crowd shouts song titles]

Gans: No, see, "Unbroken Chain" is like the easy one. We have to do something more, you know, "tricky" than that. We'll see. But the first email I got was, "Make Phil sing." So of course we're gonna make -- yeah, right.


Lesh: Ah, it hurts, it hurts.

Gans: He's gonna play his bass and sing, here, on Thursday the 6th. And I suspect they're already selling tickets for it somewhere in the building.

Lesh: Yeah, there'll be a cast of suspects that are involved, also. It's not just your band and me, it's -- there's a *pool* of musicians and bands that play a lot of Grateful Dead music, I found out recently, in the Bay Area. And I went over to the Ashkenaz [in Berkeley] for this one benefit, to sit in for a good cause, and heh! It was the first chance I'd ever had to be in the audience to hear Grateful Dead music. It was --

Gans: And he was groovin', too.

Lesh: -- really an interesting experience! "Who are these people?!" "Who is that playin' the bass, anyway?!"

Gans: So I said to him, Phil, if you're havin' this much fun, just multiply that by about fifty or a hundred, and then you'll know how you guys made us feel all that time.


Lesh: Wow!


Lesh: So how many people in this room have received their special edition of the [Grateful Dead] Almanac?

[a few cheers]

Woman in audience: Where'd you get those pictures, man?

Lesh: What pictures?

Woman: The ones on the outside.

Gans: You mean the mug shots of those guys?

Woman: Yeah!

Gans: Yeah, really.

Lesh: Oh. I think they were cropped out of old band photos, you know.

Woman: They look like pictures from a yearbook.

Gans: Yeah, exactly like yearbook pictures.

Lesh. Yeah. Weird enough. So, then, some of you know that we're trying to put together a gathering place for Deadheads that will be permanent [to be called Terrapin Station], and that will have a genuine floating Grateful Dead experience going on, constantly changing all the time, right here in San Francisco, we hope.

[cheers and applause]

Lesh: So -- if we build it, will you come?


Lesh: Well, one of the good things about that is that through the CD that we're puttin' out [Terrapin Limited], through the Almanac, and stuff like that, Deadheads are gonna be able to help us build it. 'Cos we can't do it all by ourselves.

Gans: So they're havin' a bake sale.

Lesh: [chuckle] Yeah, bake to music.

Gans: Completely baked music, it's true.

Lesh: Don't laugh, that's what we have to do to these tapes!

Gans: [chuckle]

Man in audience: Where do you sign up?

Gans: Where do you sign up for what? For Terrapin Station? I don't think the hiring hall is open yet. It's gonna be a while before they get that far.

Lesh: But there's information on the Web site, there's information in the Almanac, there should be something on the Hotline about it. But it's an ongoing process; it's gonna take us a minimum of two years, maybe longer, to put it together. But we hope that we'll have it open for New Year's Eve '99/2000. That's the plan.


Woman in audience: What's with the rumor?

Gans: What rumor?

Woman: Reuniting. You guys gonna play?

Gans: Oh yeah, the reunion rumor.

Lesh: Oh yeah, that rumor. Okay, well, what I originally said was, it's very likely that the guys in the band will agree to get together and play at the opening of Terrapin Station, whether it's there at the place, which is not gonna be that big, or, at another venue. It's very likely that we will get together and play. We've discussed it, but nothing solid has been agreed on yet.


Lesh: Don't hold your breath! [chuckle]

Gans: Think of it as an unhatched rumor.

Woman in audience: What about the Summer of Love? [30th Anniversary celebration in Golden Gate Park, Oct. 12]

Gans: Oh yeah, here's a question. What about the Summer of Love tomorrow?

Lesh: Oh, the Summer of Love. I don't know anything about that -- all I know is that Vince is gonna be there with some people, playin', but I already had made plans, and nobody invited me. [chuckle]

[boos and catcalls]

Lesh: You guys are a rowdy bunch, ain'tcha?


Gans: Any other questions?

Lesh: Maybe one at a time, or something like that.

Gans: Oh yeah, one at a time, *uh-huh*?

Lesh: 'Cos, see, if you're all talkin' at once, we can't understand what you're sayin'.

Gans: Right there, in front.

Woman in audience: Here's a button for you.

Gans: It's a button.

Lesh: Oh, thank you.

Gans: A question.

Man in audience: I was wonderin' why the Pacific Northwest didn't get an "Unbroken Chain."

Gans: Oh, come on, man, that's a bit on the picky side. He wants to know why the Pacific Northwest didn't get an "Unbroken Chain." Is that a fuckin' picky Deadhead or what?


Lesh: Let's see. Let me see if I can answer that, though. Let's see, we brought it out on the spring tour [in 1995], right?

Gans: Yeah.

Lesh: Yeah, okay. And -- and we -- *I* don't know *why*!

Gans: [laugh] Cussedness!


Gans: I can't hear a word they're saying.

Man in audience: How's Phil's symphony album comin'?

Gans: Symphony album? Oh yeah, yeah, yeah, your --

Lesh: Yeah, I'm composing a symphony based on Grateful Dead song themes. But it's not done yet, so there's no album.

Woman in audience: Thank you for putting "Mason's Children" on "The Phil Zone" [CD compilation], man.

Man in audience: How's it goin'?

Gans: How's it goin'?

Lesh: You're welcome.

Woman: Thank you.

Lesh: How's it goin'? It's goin'. It's goin'.

Gans: Do you write like six bars a day; do you pace yourself?

Lesh: Oh, no! I do as much as I can, believe me.

Man in audience: Who are you working with on it?

Lesh: No one. No, I'm doing it all myself.


Woman in audience: [inaudible]

Gans: She wants to know if the Grateful Dead would consider reforming with Steve Kimock [of Zero and Missing Man Formation] on guitar.

Lesh: Oh, yes, I've heard that question many times, and it's never been -- we have never discussed it among ourselves, so I can't answer that.


Lesh: Maybe you should write your questions out on paper airplanes and sling 'em up here.

Gans: [laugh] I was actually hoping we'd be offstage pretty quick.

Lesh: Hah! No, no, paper airplanes!

[a big fat BUD lands on the stage at DG's feet]

Gans: Okay, powerful incentive to remain on stage was just -- [laugh]


Gans: Hold on to that for me, Ali!

Lesh: [laugh]


Gans: Hey, come on, man, he's tryin' to work here! Okay, here's a guy who wants an autograph on the poster. Come on, let's not take up valuable class time on this!

Lesh: Maybe after we're finished talkin'.

Gans: Okay. Any serious questions?

Man in audience: Are you playing New Year's 1999?

Lesh: I didn't say that. I didn't say that. What I said was, *if* Terrapin Station opens on New Year's Eve 1999, it's very likely that we will play, either there or at a larger venue. Very likely. That's as far as I can say. That's as much as I can say. I can say. . . no more.


Gans: Oh, this is going swimmingly.

Woman in audience: [inaudible]

Gans: Ya gotta repeat the question, Phil.

Lesh: Oh, I'm sorry. The question was, would you be interested in playing a show up in Eugene, Oregon? My first response was --


Lesh: -- I mean, I love Eugene. I love Oregon. My daddy was from there. But we have no plans to play anywhere at all, really. At this time we have *no* plans to play anywhere at all. Should I say it again? [chuckle]

Man in audience: Isn't there any new, unreleased [inaudible] --

Gans: Oh, unreleased -- you know, like all those new songs you guys did?

Lesh: Oh, yeah. We're still try to figure out exactly what to do with the unreleased material. We definitely *do* want to put it out.

Man in audience: Yeah! Put it out!!

Lesh: Yeah, okay. But there's two schools of thought. One is that we should do something with the studio tracks that we made, and the other is that we should use live or rehearsal material, so we're working it out, we're working it out. It's just a question of what's the best -- what treats the material the best, is all.

Gans: Meantime, they're puttin' out all kinds of cool stuff, like a whole concert video ["Downhill From Here," East Troy WI '89], and a complete, unedited show on that Terrapin Station special [3/15/90, Landover MD], and a whole 1969 two shows at the Fillmore East [2/11/69, New York NY] is comin' out soon, too --

Lesh: Oh, yeah.

Gans: -- and now this thing has degenerated into a commercial, so I think it's time for us to stop talking.

Lesh: Okay. Let's play some more [recorded] music, and you guys can dance.



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