Talking Dick’s Picks with Steven Hyden and Rob Mitchum

Last week, Steven Hyden and Rob Mitchum launched 36 From The Vault, a new podcast exploring the Grateful Dead’s celebrated Dick’s Picks live series. The show takes a deep dive into the 36 Dick’s Picks entries, the history of the Dead organization, and popular culture around each show. We caught up with Steven and Rob to find out more about the new series.

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nugs: What makes Dick’s Picks unique amongst other official releases from the Grateful Dead? 

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Rob Mitchum: One of the joys of doing the podcast so far is doing a deep dive into who Dick was and how he came to be associated with the Dead organization. His background and the whole process in selecting the shows is really sort of fascinating early on. The key thing about Dick, I think, is that he came to the Grateful Dead organization already a huge tape trader and fan. He had that fan’s perspective and brought it to the organization. Everybody who was working for the Dead from the band to the crew to the people running the business had been inside for so long that they kind of lost perspective about what the outside world wanted from them. And that’s especially important for this kind of archival release series.

Dick was giving the fans what they want. He had his own sort of peculiar pov on what needed to be put out there. He talked a lot in early interviews about the fact that the band, by ‘93 certainly, never listened to the tapes. The only one who was interested in even participating in choosing or rejecting shows was Phil and he was doing all rejecting and no choosing basically, so he really slowed down the release in the early days. But Dick was super enthusiastic about all this music and would come across something like the “Here Comes Sunshine” that’s on Volume One and say, “We have to get this out there! Deadheads have got to hear this.” He would just argue and argue that it needed to be put out there and finally ended up winning some of these arguments with Phil. We’re all very lucky to have had his perspective on the inside at that point. Certainly, they wouldn’t have put out as much without Dick advocating for it and what they would have put out maybe wouldn’t have been as satisfying. 

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Steven Hyden: I think what makes the Dead unique in a lot of ways in terms of how their archive is handled is that they are probably the biggest example of fans stepping into the place of the band as stewards of the band’s history. The fans of the Grateful Dead have had such a big role in ultimately shaping the perception of how this band is perceived and I think mostly for the better. I think Dick is an example of this and there are lots of other people, lots of the Deadheads, who have much better taste in Dead music than the members themselves. If not for them there’d be a lot of great music that wouldn’t have been put out there for whatever reason. I think it’s a really interesting aspect of their history, the role that fans have played in writing and maybe correcting it in a lot of ways. 

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nugs: You guys mention in the podcast that the Dick’s Picks shows are a sort-of medium between the studio sound of early official releases and the DIY sound of bootleg tapes. What is it that distinguishes the sound of a Dick’s Picks show? 

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SH: It was kind of like the best of both worlds in a way where you could get something that sounded pretty good but it wasn’t overly professional or it didn’t have a ton of overdubs on it. It is interesting doing this show and realizing how much actually was done to these tapes in terms of just cutting songs out or like resequencing songs. The first Dick’s Picks record I ever got was Volume One and I wasn’t aware of how much had been taken out of there until I did this podcast. I heard you could stream the shows that they took that from and pretty much the whole first set is gone from Dick’s Picks Volume One. So it wasn’t quite as unedited as I assumed it was but still much less polished than a regular studio record would be.

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nugs: On the note of live albums missing sections or being re-sequenced, what makes the six-song uninterrupted section in the second set of Dick’s Picks Volume One so special?  

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RM: One of the cool things that I think Dick’s Picks allowed the Dead to do is put out some of these hour-long song suites that they used to do regularly live. For a lot of reasons, they hadn’t really represented that on their official “live” albums. I think Live Dead probably gets the closest to it but even that one is spliced between I think two or three shows. A lot of their other live albums were sort of grab bags of best versions from a particular tour or run. If they’re edited together it was done in the studio later on by combining versions from different shows and things like that. What was sort of revolutionary at time was finally having a pretty solid unabridged hour of music and segues from the show on an easy compact-disc format. Usually, that was the domain of tapes and not something you could get your hands on in official quality.

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SH: It really is amazing how spoiled people are now with this kind of stuff. I was just thinking about myself with Phish for instance. I only started listening to Phish in the 2010s. I’m used to an era where the show ends and within a couple of minutes there’s an instant show to stream online that’s a master and sounds great. At your fingertips, there’s an entire show. We’re so used to that now. Revisiting the series is a reminder that even getting part of a show that sounded this good was kind of a unique thing. it was a much harder thing to attain than it is now.

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RM: That’s going back to before a time nugs.net spoiled music fans. But yeah, I think one of the interesting things I’ve learned from the start of the series is how the Dead organization was very nervous about whether this would actually work, which is crazy in retrospect. Now the Dead put out like eight to ten live releases a year or something like that between Dave’s Picks and the other box sets they do. 

Dick, Kidd Candelario and a couple of other people that were involved in the start of the series really had to argue with the band, the organization, and the record label to do this. Even the permission they got was only to sell it through mail order and do a very low run for the time of only 25,000 copies each volume. Dick wanted to do complete shows but they wouldn’t commit at the time because they only wanted to do, at most, 2 discs. Of course, you can’t get a complete show on two discs. There were all these handicaps put on the project from the start just because they were worried that it might be a commercial bust. 

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SH: I guess maybe the Dead’s defense back in the early ‘90s was that putting out something that’s pretty unvarnished risks being picked apart. Especially by a fan base as critical as the Dead’s. So I understand their trepidation from that perspective, they didn’t want to put out something that was maybe less than perfect. And in the show that we just did, there’s this whole thing about editing out this terrible Phil Lesh bass solo. When you listen to the show it’s actually kind of good that it’s not there because that part of the album flows so well, it’s like really the best part of the whole release. But there is a part of you as a purist that’s like “oh I wish that was in there because that’s actually what happened.” The fact that they were willing to release Dick’s Picks as they did is a little bit of a leap of faith, to expose yourself in that way. 

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nugs: You guys have hinted that the show could explore some other artists along the way, what can we expect down the line from the podcast? 

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RM: Steven and I are both fans of the live album format in general and the Dick’s Picks series is such a revelation in how live albums can work for a band, doing more archival releases than polished live album releases. So I think we’re interested in those types of archival releases from other bands. Like Steve was talking about earlier, telling the story of the band through this very particular kind of release is a concept that fits the Dead perfectly and they were the ones that set the template for that. But there are other bands that do that as well and that’s the kind of thing we’d like to explore down the line or in special episodes

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nugs: In the first episode, you guys go deep into the context around the show. You even dive into how the venue was named after a corrupt Tampa mayor. Is that something we can expect more of in future episodes? 

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SH: Part of the appeal for us doing this show was that it’s a chance to talk about the Grateful Dead, but it’s also an excuse to explore music history and pop culture history in a fun way. You could time travel back to December of 1973 and look at what’s happening in the world at that time and get a sense of what it would have been like to be at that show. Rob and I were both born several years after this show and I never got to see the Grateful Dead live at all. I’ve only ever experienced them through recordings. The time travel aspect of listening to live tapes is enhanced when you can look at the rest of the world at that time and see how that influenced what was going on. 

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RM: Yeah, I think a lot of times people tend to consider the history of the Dead in sort of a vacuum. They were always an oddball in the music industry so people tend to consider the Dead and their different eras in a silo without thinking about the cultural context of the time. What was going on in the music industry? What was going on in film? What was going on in the news? 

Each show kind of gives us an opportunity to do that which is really fun. Looking at the different venues they played and seeing who else was playing that venue around the same time, It’s fun to be like “You know they played this show in Tampa not long after David Bowie was there on the Diamond Dogs tour.” A bunch of the shows in the ‘70s were within a month or two of like an Elvis appearance at the same venue. The other things that were sort of bobbing around in the culture at the time, of course, were going to have an influence on the Dead. They might have been doing their own thing but there’s certainly some bleed over you can hear from the bands, arts, and society that was around them. 

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SH: Another thing for Rob and I with this show was to approach it as huge fans of the Grateful Dead without being too clinical or scholarly about it. I think that we both want to have a sense of humor about the band. They’re a brilliant band, but they’re also kind of a goofy band. Craziness and brillance always co-mingled with this band and it’s part of what makes them so much fun to talk about.

I think that spirit of fun and reverence that’s inside the Grateful Dead is something that we wanted to have on this show and I think that’s a pretty big part of what we’re doing. I always feel like the best kind of music criticism should feel like listening to music and I hope that we have a little bit of that element of the Dead in our show.

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Check out the first episode exploring Dick’s Picks Volume One: Tampa Florida 12/19/73 today.

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New Episodes of 36 From The Vault are available every other week wherever you listen to podcasts.


Best of the Millennium (So Far)

Now that we’re officially in the 2020s, we are looking back at the best music of the 2000s (so far). nugs.net’s founder, Brad Serling, has cultivated his list featuring some of the most memorable live performances from the last twenty years. You can listen to every song on the latest editions of the nugs.net Live Stash podcast. Brad goes through his full list of favorites in two parts providing commentary on each entry.

Listen Now

Phish: Piper 2002/12/31 New York, NY

Widespread Panic (w/ Dottie Peoples & The Peoples Choir): Tall Boy Bonnaroo 2002

The String Cheese Incident (w/ Keller Williams): Best Feeling 2002/06/21 Bonnaroo

Bruce Springsteen: When The Saints Go Marching In 2006/04/30 New Orleans, LA

Led Zeppelin: No Quarter 2007/12/10 London, GB

The Allman Brothers Band (w/ Eric Clapton & Friends): Anyday 2009/03/19 New York, NY

My Morning Jacket: Dancefloors 2004/06/12 Bonnaroo, TN

Umphrey’s McGee: In The Kitchen 2004/06/11 Bonnaroo, TN

Pearl Jam: Yellow Ledbetter 2009/10/31 Philadelphia, PA

Fare Thee Well: Truckin’ 2015/07/05 Chicago, IL

Phish: Fluffhead 2009/03/06 Hampton, VA

Metallica (w/ Neil Young): Mr. Soul 2016/10/23 Bridge School Benefit, CA

Red Hot Chili Peppers: Californication 2012/08/04 Lollapalooza, IL

Gov’t Mule: Let’s Go Get Stoned 2011/12/31 New York, NY

Wilco : I Am Trying To Break Your Heart 2012/09/21 Berkeley, CA

Tedeschi Trucks Band (w/ Wood Brothers): Let Me Roll It 2017/07/29 Red Rocks, CO

Dead and Company: They Love Each Other 2018/02/26 Sunrise, FL

Trey Anastasio (w/ Susan Tedeschi & Derek Trucks): A Life Beyond The Dream 2019/08/23 LOCKN’ Festival, VA

The nugs.net Thanksgiving Road Trip Playlist

Today and tomorrow are the busiest travel days of the year. We’ve created a playlist for nugs.net subscribers to keep everyone truckin’ along on their way to enjoy a Thanksgiving feast. It’s packed with live versions of classic hits that the whole car can enjoy.

Clocking in at two hours, The Thanksgiving Road Trip playlist is filled with the music of Springsteen, The Dead, The Allman Brothers Band, and more road trip staples. Of course, no road trip playlist would be complete without a little country. There’s Johnny Cash, Merle Haggard, John Denver, and more providing that classic American road trip atmosphere. And finally, the playlist features incredible covers from Greensky Bluegrass, Tauk, and Goose. It’s the perfect accompaniment for the open road.

nugs Picks: November 2019

The year is rapidly coming to a close. Fall tours are ending and many artists will take a few weeks off to rest, reflect, and prepare for a new year of music. Before we charge into a new decade, we’re taking a look back at some of our favorite shows from 2019.

The String Cheese Incident: 6/27/19

Widespread Panic: Durham, NC 3/31/19

Umphrey’s McGee: Jim Thorpe, PA 3/21/19

Greensky Bluegrass: Red Rocks Amphitheatre 9/15/19

Dead & Company: Wrigley Field 6/15/19

Gov’t Mule: Island Exodus X 1/23/19

Spafford: Nashville, TN 10/5/19

Billy Strings: Hoxeyville Music Festival 10/18/19

The Disco Biscuits: Camp Bisco 7/20/19

Pigeons Playing Ping Pong: Domefest 5/18/19

Q+A With Star Kitchen

Star Kitchen is one of our favorite new projects. The band is the brainchild of The Disco Biscuits’ Marc Brownstein and Eric Krasno Band’s Danny Mayer. The supergroup also includes Rob Marscher and Marlon Lewis. Their performances explore the music of Stevie, Jimi, James, & more in new and interesting ways. We sat down with the band to talk about their shows on nugs.net and more.

Q: Tell us about the hidden gems in these releases. Do you have a stand out track or show from the batch?

Star Kitchen: I really love the Boat Cruise show in NYC. It was the first time that the band played as a four-piece without any guests at all, and it was a benchmark moment for the band. We hadn’t had the confidence to pull off a whole show without the help of some special treats along the way, but it was great. We pulled it off with a very small crowd, but huge energy. It has become our go-to recording to listen to in the van.

Q: What inspired you to start a funk forward project over all else?

SK: Really, the thing that inspired me to start this project was the Sharon Jones and the Dap King’s holiday album. Every year that is the go-to in my house. The songs are dope, and the band is the best. Ultimately, it brought me back to listening to funk in general, and I went through a deep stage of dissecting Greyboy All-stars jams. Then I went further back and started relearning all of the James Brown grooves and Aretha Franklin classics; and of course, I made a James Jamerson playlist and started playing along with that. I didn’t know how to make a funk band happen, but just as with everything, the universe did deliver this time.

Q: What are your hopes for how a new listener feels when they leave a Star Kitchen show?

SK: I feel like I want them to say, oh ok, I get it, it’s funk, but also it’s not. We are taking these songs that everyone has heard thousands of times, and many that you’ve never heard, and stretching them like rubber bands, as far as we can, in every direction. Recently, someone came up to me and said, “wow that reminded me a lot of what JGB used to be,” and I was like, this guy gets it. We are taking funk and soul tunes, and then taking everything we know from being experts in improvisation and applying it to those songs in our own way. That’s what JGB used to do, and that’s what this ended up being, not by accident. I am always the most influenced by the patriarch of the jamband scene.

The Many Sounds of Scarlet Begonias

Scarlet Begonias is one of the essential pieces of the Grateful Dead discography. The band first played the song in 1974 at the Daly City Cow Palace, just south of San Francisco. The song is one of the many Grateful Dead tunes to feature the brilliant lyricism of the recently passed Robert Hunter.

Since Dead & Company began touring in 2015, Scarlet has been a fixture of the band’s live show. Every member of the band gets a chance to shine throughout the song, possibly why the band often uses it as a set opener. It’s a great introduction to the show, after a 10-minute Scarlet jam, you know exactly what to expect from a Dead & Co. performance. There’s a reason you’ll hear Bob Weir exclaim “Just like a swiss watch” after the band opens their second set in Atlanta with the song.

There are over 150 versions of Scarlet Begonias streaming on nugs.net from Dead & Company, Bob Weir and Wolf Bros, JRAD, and tons more. You can also watch three different versions of the song from this year’s Dead & Co. summer tour below.

For more Dead & Company, pre-order webcasts of their six upcoming Fall Fun Run shows right now on nugs.tv.

Woodstock Turns 50

It’s been half a century since 500,000 people made their way to Bethel, New York for the now-historic Woodstock Music Festival. The iconic festival didn’t come together overnight, in fact, it nearly didn’t happen at all. Finding a venue proved a difficult task for event organizers. Organizers didn’t land the famous dairy farm in Bethel until roughly a month before the first act would take the stage. Woodstock was billed as “An Aquarian Exposition: 3 Days of Peace & Music.” The Woodstock moniker wouldn’t come until later. Woodstock’s legacy lives on through just about every festival that takes place today.


Woodstock 1969 Lineup:

Day 1:

Richie Havens
Bert Sommer
Sweetwater
Melanie
Tim Hardin
Ravi Shanker
Arlo Guthrie
Joan Baez

Day 2:

Quill
Country Joe McDonald
John Sebastian
Keef Hartley Band
Santana
The Incredible Stringed Band
Canned Heat
Mountain
The Grateful Dead
Creedence Clearwater Revival
Janis Joplin
Sly and the Family Stone
The Who
Jefferson Airplane

Day 3

Country Joe and The Fish
Ten Years After
The Band
Johnny Winter
Blood Sweat and Tears
Crosby Stills Nash and Young
Paul Butterfield Blues Band
Sha Na Na
Jimi Hendrix


Listen to Woodstock

nugs.net subscribers can listen to these Woodstock performances on desktop, Sonos, and in the nugs.net app.

Jimmi Hendrix

Janis Joplin

2019 Red Rocks Collection

Red Rocks Amphitheatre is hands down one of our favorite venues in the US. The natural beauty that accompanies the sweet sounds of live music makes for a breathtaking experience. There’s a reason why it’s a must-visit location for nearly all of our nugs.net artists. Below you’ll find a collection of every Red Rocks performance we have from this year… so far.

The String Cheese Incident


Leftover Salmon


Widespread Panic


Umphrey’s McGee


Spafford


Dispatch


moe.


The Infamous Stringdusters


The Disco Biscuits


Papadosio


Twiddle


Lotus


Looking for video? We’ve got tons of videos from Red Rocks on our YouTube channel!

Watch Video From Widespread Panic at Red Rocks

Widespread Panic just wrapped their 2019 three-night run at Red Rocks. Selling out the iconic venue has become an annual affair for Panic at this point. Each night was filled with fantastic bust outs, rarities, and fan favorites. If you missed out on the sold-out shows, we’ve got exclusive video from our webcasts:

Listen to full show audio from each night:


Night One: Puppy Sleeps

Night One: Down On The Farm

Night Two: Ain’t Life Grand

Night Two: Climb To Safety

Night Three: Pilgrims

Night Three:
No Sugar Tonight/New Mother Nature

Tipitina’s Free Fridays Collection

Tipitina’s has been a staple in the New Orleans’ music scene since 1977. The iconic venue hosts New Orleans’ finest and funkiest musicians. Every Friday this summer Tipitina’s hosts free performances featuring incredible local talent and the party goes all night long. Tune in to nugs.tv every Friday to watch Tipitina’s Free Fridays live and discover your new favorite band! Below you can check out previous Free Friday’s performances, with more added each week.

5/24/19 Brassaholics & Erica Falls

5/31/19 Billy Iuso & Restless Natives + The Quickening

6/7/19 Johnny Sketch & The Dirty Notes, Aaron Benjamin, & Spencer Whatever

6/14/19 Stooges Brass Band & Brass Lightning

6/21/19 Dave Jordan & the NIA plus Motel Radio