Monday, September 22, 2008

My Review of Grateful Dead Podcasts

Remember the "Dead Hour" with David Gans?  That was a cool show that I used to listen to when the Dead were still around (I belive it was on 97.1 on Sunday Nights in L.A.).  

I actually used to tape some episodes of that which me and my friends listened to until the tapes should have worn out, but then I miraculously converted some of it to digital .mp3 for my computer and  iPod because I had such an attachment to some of those shows.  I remember David Gans saying his favorite Dead song was "Playin' in the Band."   Interesting choice.  

There was (and I believe still is) a Grateful Dead radio show called "The Music Never Stops"  in Los Angeles on Sunday nights ( I believe on 90.7 KPFK) but I never listen to it because it is so inconsistent whenever I used to turn on the dial and get excited to hear the Dead it would be something else, and they  play a lot of other jam bands that I can never get into.

Luckily thanks to technology's leaps and bounds of progress there are GRATEFUL DEAD PODCASTS out there that really do release new shows every week.  These are amazing.  I am going to review them below.

The Dead Show on KOPN 89.5

This one seems to be my default Dead Podcast that I catch up with first because it is the first one I really found out about a couple of years  ago.  It is uploaded every Friday so I know I'll have some new (old) Dead music every weekend as I drive around.  Also, it is very easy for me to listen to without ruining the song surprises - a guy comes on (I think his name is the Professor) and tells you what show and all of the songs for approximately 50 seconds to 1:05.  

What I do is turn down my volume for the first minute of the podcast so I don't ruin the surprise of listening to the show.  And then I turn up the volume to about level "1" at the 1 minute mark so I can just barely here him talking (but not audibly understand the words he says) and as soon as he's done talking I crank it up for the show.  

This show (based out of Columbia Missouri) focuses a lot on the 70s "golden years" of the Dead, which is consistent with the vast majority of Deadheads' preference so that is understandable.  Occasionally the "Professor" plays a show from the nineties like the 3/21/1991 Capitol Center show from Landover Maryland that was absolutely ridiculous!!!  (I will post my review of that show in short order - but the Professor only played it from the 1st set closer Bird Song through the encored so that's all I will be able to review).  

The Professor  also recently played a show of JGB that was great and even an esoteric show from Jerry and Merl's side project "Legion of Mary" which in my opinion is for the serious collector only.  

My hats are off to this guy the Professor.  He brings it every week.  I have yet to hear him play anything but music with Jerry Garcia in it.  I know he had some health issues and I went to his blog and wished him well sometime last year.  You should do the same.  

Jer Bear records  this show from Martha's Vineyard and this show is quickly becoming my favorite Dead Podcast.  I've only been listening for a few months but I am pretty sure he puts an entire Grateful Dead concert into each Podcast!  How awesome is that!?!?

I actually have been a little more open minded to the non-Dead music that Jer Bear has played (although I usually fast forward it).  This past episode he really won me over by playing a great version of Days  Between and then it went right into a cool version of the Heptones' Book of Rules.  I was quite sure that it was Bobby singing and sure enough, Jer Bear announced after that it was a version of Bobby and the Midnites playing the Heptones' Book of Rules in Montego Bay Jamaica in 1982.  WOW, I wish I could've been at that concert!  I've never heard Bobby choose such a cool song.  I mean, how do you go from playing Heptones in MoBay in 1982 to playing The Same Thing and Little Red Rooster with the Dead in the nineties? 

Anyway, Jer Bear's MVY Radio Podcast covers a lot of ground and he gives updates on news about the Dead.  Unfortunately I always turn down the spoken parts of the show because I don't want the surprise of the songs to be ruined.  I always tell myself I'll go back to hear what he said but I never do.  As you might have gathered, I really like to listen to the Dead without knowing what they're going to play next so it is more intriguing to hear the between song tune ups and especially when they are jamming and bridging songs in the second set.

My hats are off to Jer Bear for this enormous undertaking, his show is a gift to anyone who likes the Dead.  Jer Bear also plays lots of 80s and 90s Grateful Dead which makes me happy.  He just plays a lot of Dead, period. The shows are usually between 3 to 5 hours every week! God Bless this guy!

Honorable Mention: Through the Years Podcast

Through the Years - How little we knew ye.  This is a podcast with 8 episodes (final episode in 2006) that comes up when you search for Grateful Dead podcasts in iTunes. 

This is actually the format I would've defaulted to if I were to make  a Dead podcast (which is why it is probably for the best that I let the pros handle the podcasts).  I really like Through the Years, it has song after song but they are all from different shows, and jump all over the map chronologically.  This  actually serves a great purpose because the song mix is pretty sweet, and it is very surprising to hear the sequence (that don't remotely resemble Grateful Dead setlist patterns).  It is almost like going to hear a club DJ who is mixing up GD tracks.  There is definitely a time and a place for this podcast in my life and I wish the podcast wasn't defunct.

Also, bonus points to Through the Years for not pre-announcing the songs (that I've noticed).

So  that's my review of the Grateful Dead podcasts.  By the way, if you are new to this, I recommend you go to the respective podcast sites (they are linked to above) or find them in iTunes and download them starting with the oldest available podcast.  This is because as far as I can tell, there is only a finite number of the podcasts hosted and whenever they post a new one, the oldest one drops off and no longer becomes available.  

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