Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Inaugural Blast

Inaugural Blast – By Bill Kelly

All things are pointing towards a major Inaugural blast, as a lot of people are planning on converging on Washington D.C for the inaugural and inagural party and balls.

Since the preceeding day is Martin Luther King Day, an official holiday and three day weekend, it should be a blowout now that there’s a young, black president with friends like Bruce Springsteen, Aretha Franklin, Billy Joel, the Greatful Dead,, Beyonce, Jay-z and Leona Lewis.

While born in Hawaii, he’s now from Chicago, and that’s no Don Ho, so we can expect the official Inaugural Band to include some Chicago blues and maybe even the Blues Brothers and the Purple Gang Rhythm Section.

The official Inagural Committee, a subcommitte of the Senate, has announced the inagural schedule, program and starting lineup of acts. Among those set to perform for the inaguration will be the US Marine Band, John Phillips Sousa's old group who used to be the house band at Congress Hall in Cape May, and peform on the porch.

Then there's Aretha Franklin, the Queen of Soul who you all remember as the gal who ran the greasey spoon joint in the original Blues Brothers flick.

Put together by Senate Inagural Subcommittee chair Dianne Feinstein, Obama and Biden, the Inagural show will also include Chinese American Cellist Yo-Yo Ma, Israli American virtuoso violinist Itzhak Pearlman, pianist Gabriela Montero, Anthony McGill on claranet and the San Francisco Boys and Girls Chorius.

They will reportedly perform a special song composed by John Williams ("Jaws" "Star Wars") who was at the Grant Park gig on election night.

As with Robert Frost at JFK's inaguration, Obama has invited Elizabeth Alexander of Yale to read a poem, while Joseph Lowery, of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference will speak and Pastor Rick Warren ("Purpose Driven Life"), host of a Obama-McLain debate in California, will lead a prayer.

More to come on the inagural acts and who will be performing at what parties and balls.

Consider for a moment, the Inauguration is on Tuesday, January 20, the day after January 19th, Martin Luther King Day, King’s birthday, now a national holiday and an official day off, creating a three day weekend that ends with the inauguration on Tuesday.

They say, what's the difference between MLK Day and St. Patrick's Day? On St. Patrick's Day everybody wants to be Irish. Well, MLK Day is the St. Patrick’s Day for black people and all minorities, and for once, it is a day everyone will take note because of the special historic occasion of the inauguration of a black president, something few people ever imagined would happen.

We all know black people have a reputation, like the Irish, for having fun and knowing how to party, and Obama’s early and eager supporters included Hollywood actors, New York entertainers and musicians, especially Bruce Springsteen and, who was inspired by Obama to wrote songs “Yes We Can” and “It’s a New Day.”

Springsteen, who made a number of solo acoustic appearances at Obama rallies in Philadelphia and Ohio, also wrote, “Working on a Dream,” which he premiered at a rally in Ohio and is on a new album set for release around the time of the Inauguration. Springsteen and the E-Street Band are also scheduled to play at halftime of the Super bowl on February 1, but that may be an afterthought following the Inaugural blast.

If you want to go, be part of the party and witness history, you’re not alone, as ten times as many citizens have requested some of the 240,000 free tickets to the inauguration as ever before, giving a good indication that this is going to be one Big Bash.

Only Senators and Congressmen can distribute tickets to view the inaguration, which will take place on the West Steps of the Capitol building, which faces the Washington Monument and the Mall, which will be open to the public for the first time to accomidate the four million people expected to attend. That's up two million from last month's projections.

Besides the reserved tickets that give you a view of the inauguration, the swearing in of the new president and his speech, more than 4 million people are expected to pack the mall and watch the proceedings on big screens, and line Pennsylvania Avenue as the new president rides or walks from the Capitol steps to the White House.

As for shear numbers, a lot will depend on the weather, as few people will bother if its too cold, or there’s a storm, but regardless, there will be at least a million and a half people expected, which is three times the number of people who were at Woodstock and a little less than the Philadelphia Phillies World Championship parade.

Which makes me think that if Philadelphia can put two million people together for a baseball parade, then DC can do better for Obama, so regardless of the weather, I say 2 mill easy, will pack the National Mall like Martin Luther King was giving a speech. And the new security numbers of up to 4 million don't seem too farfetched.

But the real action will not be the day of the Inaguration, but that night, when the official and unofficial Inagural Balls and parties will take place all over town.

First off, it really is a formal occasion, and if you swing an invite to say the MTV party, New Jersey contingent’s ball, or even if you intend to crash a party, you must dress the part – to the Nines.

And there isn’t just one official ball, but about a dozen of them, and your lucky to get an invite to any of them, with increasing significance attached to those who get to go to more than one and, like the new President and his wife, move around to different parties.

Of course, if you go, you have to make arrangements ahead of time, and first get a place to stay. Forget a hotel or motel, and think of a friend you went to school with who now works as a mid level government beauracrat who will let you stay on their couch, though be prepared to have to bid for the squatting rights, as other old friends are also thinking along these lines.

Once you secure lodging, then you have to consider whether to fly, drive, bus or train. For me, I’ve done it all, and the train is by far the preferred route, not only cost wise, but hassle wise, and comfort. Driving is a problem, not only the four hours getting there, but in parking once you get there and having to drive back after it’s all over. Unless there are three or more souls making this trip, the highway takes a back seat to AMTRACK.

And now they announce that Barrak and Joe will be taking AMTRACK too. Obama will be in Philly for Martin Luther King Day (of Service) and get on the train at 30th Street Station and head south to Wilmington and pick up Joe and take the train down to Union Station in DC for the Shindig.

See, did I tell you how to go?

Once you have acomidations and transport lined up, the tickets to the inaugural and the parties and balls, will come easier. If you are a regular Democratic Party stalwart then you should have no problem getting a free pass from your Congressmen, but if you just voted for him, well then you may have to put in a little squeeze and remind people about that favor you once did. There’s a real determination in Congress and the new administration not to allow these free tickets to be resold on ebay or the black market, but I’m sure a lot of people will be getting greedy as it gets closer to the day.

While tickets to the balls are easier to get because many of them actually cost money, and you have to be able to get there to use them, and have your tux or gown ready, best bet is to check in with your local Democratic Party boss and see about getting a ticket.

Once the accommodations, travel and tickets to the inauguration and the ball are all covered, the only thing left is where to eat. If you’re going to a ball, the food should be covered, as they usually put a out a pretty nice spread for all of the balls, high end or low. You will have a ball.

But it’s a long holiday weekend, there’s breakfasts, lunch and dinners for a few days that I’ll cover in more detail as we get closer to DC and the date.

In the meantime, MTV has announced that they will be having a party the night of the inagural.

MTV will be hosting a party with the theme “Be the Change Inaugural Ball” at the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center, where I was at the in last Inaugural Ball at a Hollywood sponsored bash, tickets compliments of Jersey Joe Piscopo.

According to their news release, MTV announced that it has partnered with ServiceNation to co-host the "Be the Change Inaugural Ball" in Washington, D.C., on January 20, 2009 — the same day President-elect Barack Obama will take his oath of office.

The event will celebrate the massive youth-voter turnout in this month's presidential election and an active commitment from America's youth to impart positive social change through volunteer service. ServiceNation is an organization that campaigns to increase support for expanding national service programs like the Peace Corps and Americorps.

A record 24 million people between the ages of 18 and 29 voted in the 2008 presidential election, accounting for 18 percent of the 133.3 million voters who hit the polls. It marked the third major election in a row with increased youth-voter numbers, and for the first time in 20 years, the number of young voters surpassed the number of voters over the age of 65.

The ball will be staged at the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center and will feature several leading artists, celebrities and government officials (to be named later), alongside hundreds of young people who've been chosen to attend based on their demonstrated volunteerism.

The "Be the Change Inaugural Ball" will be televised live across all MTV platforms, including MTV, MTV2, MTV Tr3s, mtvU, MTV Hits, MTV Jams and on the evening of January 20. Exact air times will be announced in the coming weeks.

The live television event will also include live broadcasts from other locations across the globe, where young people are completing major service projects. Leading up to the event, MTV will showcase stories of young people providing service within their communities on a daily basis, beginning on January 1.

"Over the last year and culminating in this election, we have seen a groundswell of engagement and a refreshed spirit of activism from young people," MTV general manager Stephen Friedman said. "ServiceNation is the perfect partner for this inaugural event, given that they encompass a broad coalition of youth service organizations. We want to celebrate young people across the nation who are answering the call and working to make changes in their communities and beyond."

Leona Lewis has been asked to sing for US President-elect Barack Obama at his inauguration ceremony in Washington DC on January 20.

The singer, who yesterday (November 23) beat Dido to the Number One spot in the albums chart with a reissue of her album 'Spirit', is set to join Jay-Z and Beyonce at the ceremony

Millions are expected to convene in the US capital on inauguration day, while tickets to the ceremony are exchanging hands for thousands on auction sites.

Speaking before Obama won the US election, Lewis said: "I think Obama is amazing. He's just so cool and articulate. Nothing fazes him.

"It would mean everything for ethnic minorities in that country and every country around the world to have a mixed-race leader of America."

NEW YORK — Attention, Mr. president-elect: Come Inauguration Day, Beyonce is at your service.

"I'm there. I can't wait. I feel like all of us, we're ready to do whatever we have to do. Whatever they want _ if they need me to volunteer, they need me to sing, I'm there, and I'm ready," a giddy Beyonce said in an interview the day after Barack Obama made history in becoming the nation's first elected black president.
The singer couldn't stop beaming after Obama's win over Republican John McCain on Tuesday. In fact, she was so inspired, she wore a blue suit and tie in honor of Obama _ with stiletto heels that were red, white and blue.

"I've never been so patriotic!" she laughed. "I'm just beyond excited."
Beyonce was supposed to be in Japan on Election Night to promote her upcoming album, "I Am ... Sasha Fierce," but decided to postpone it at the last minute.
"I said, 'What am I doing? I'm completely making a bad decision. I have to go home, I'm gonna kill myself if I'm not home in America,'" she said. "I knew I needed to be here."

After going with hubby Jay-Z, Diddy, Mary J. Blige and others to states like Pennsylvania, Florida, and Ohio just before the election, she watched the returns Tuesday night with family and friends in her home. She was not only inspired by Obama, but McCain's concession as well: "McCain's speech was so classy."
The 27-year-old said the win was particularly important for the inspiration it gave to African-Americans.

"My nephew, who is 4, when we say, 'You can do whatever, you can be whatever,' it's not cliche. You have no doubt that it's not true," she said.
The election even brought Beyonce to tears, though she says it was the good kind: "I fell asleep crying and smiling at the same time," she laughed. I woke up with mascara running and a smile on my face!"

From Bruce Springsteen leading 50,000-strong crowds in chants of "Yes we can!" to the Beastie Boys headlining a last-minute voter-awareness arena tour to Jay-Z putting a political twist on his full-band stage show, musicians are coming out in force for Barack Obama as the November 4th election approaches. It's a burst of enthusiasm that recalls 2004's Vote for Change Tour: Some events, including a Dead/Allman Brothers show on October 13th in State College, Pennsylvania, and a Springsteen/Billy Joel/John Legend concert in New York on October 16th, are official Obama fundraisers, held under the campaign's Change Rocks banner; others, like the Beasties' tour with the nonpartisan Rock the Vote organization, are focused on encouraging fans to show up at the polls.

"Ultimately, the mission statement is to get people out and voting," says Beastie Mike D, whose group is bringing along guests including Jack Johnson, Sheryl Crow, Ben Harper, David Crosby and Graham Nash. "But in my opinion, the America I love is in such a terrible state, and for the change that I would like to see happen, it's really crucial that people get out and vote for Obama."

Most musicians performing for Obama — ranging from the Dead to Devo — are focused on swing states including Ohio, Pennsylvania and Florida, where electoral votes are crucial to an Obama victory. "We want to be of as much use to the candidate as we can be," says Dead drummer Mickey Hart. "At this stage of the game, it's about consciousness and about getting out there and voting, and doing something on your own that makes a difference. The stakes are so high."

Some events — such as Springsteen's in Pennsylvania, Ohio and Michigan, and Jay-Z's in Michigan and Florida — are carefully targeted to areas in which newly registered voters are likely to vote Democratic. "If you're doing it in the right part of the state, most of the people who register are gonna vote the way you want," says Democratic strategist Joe Trippi. "Pennsylvania is a place where you could say Obama wasn't connecting with blue-collar workers. There's no one who connects more with those people than Bruce Springsteen."

In Detroit, Jay-Z fans picked up tickets at Obama's campaign office, where staffers encouraged them to register. "It was a way to pull in voters who maybe hadn't been part of the system before and get them registered," says Brent Colburn, Michigan spokesman for Obama's campaign. "You were able to see the breadth of Obama's appeal: Jay-Z's concert skewed younger, and the Springsteen show was on a college campus, so there were a lot of students but also a lot of working-class people." Both Springsteen and Jay-Z performed in the final three days before the Michigan registration deadline, with the Obama campaign coming away with 9,000 new registered voters in the Detroit area alone.

In Miami, Jay-Z looked out at a crowd of thousands and said, "I'm not telling you who to vote for. I'm telling you who I'm voting for: Barack Obama!" At another point, the MC alluded to Sarah Palin before launching into "99 Problems," with its chorus of "I've got 99 problems, but a bitch ain't one."

Springsteen, who performed on 2004's Vote for Change and made appearances with John Kerry, told crowds that he expects his efforts behind Obama to be more effective. "In 2004, I had the tequila all lined up on the bar," he joked during a Michigan performance of "No Surrender," which Kerry used as a theme song.
And Springsteen also made an impassioned case for Obama. "I've spent 35 years writing about America, its people and the meaning of the American promise," he said at each of his campaign stops. "I want my America back, I want my country back. So now is the time to stand with Barack Obama and Joe Biden, roll up our sleeves and come on up for the rising."

Shortly after a roof-raising version of “Born To Run” featuring Bruce Springsteen, Billy Joel and key members of both their bands, Bruce turned to the back of the stage at New York’s Hammerstein Ballroom and said “We want to bring out the next President of the United States!” With that, Barack Obama took the stage to the loudest cheers of a very loud night. “What a magical evening,” Obama said to the crowd, who donated between $500 and $10,000 to his campaign and the DNC for tickets. “I just told Michelle backstage that the reason I’m running for president is because I can’t be Bruce Springsteen.” He went on to warn the crowd not to get “giddy” over his high poll numbers with less than three weeks left in the election. “Don’t underestimate the power of Democrats to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.”

One also can’t underestimate the ability of a ninety-minute set of Bruce Springsteen and Billy Joel hits to bring a theater packed full of middle age tri-staters to screaming fits of hysterical joy. “Good evening bridge and tunnel elite,” Springsteen said in the middle of an early show mini acoustic set. “I know you spent a lot of money, but like you did with the vice presidential debate: lower your expectations.” Three songs into Billy Joel’s set — when Springsteen, his wife Patti Scialfa and E Street Band keyboardist Roy Bittan joined Joel and his band for a rousing “10th Avenue Freeze-Out” — expectations were already exceeded. From here, an only-for-Obama supergroup was born. Springsteen stayed onstage for the next hour and a half, with the setlist rotating back and forth between Joel and Springsteen classics. Each sang big portions of each others’ tunes, often with their eyes focused on what was surely a teleprompter.

The pairing worked surprisingly well. When Springsteen sang “they’re closing all the factories down” in “Allentown,” it sounded like it could have been a Darkness On The Edge Of Town outtake. Likewise, Joel made the sweet nostalgia of “Glory Days” seem like one of his own. “Movin’ Out” was dedicated to Bush and Cheney, and featured Springsteen singing the verse about “Mister Cacciatore’s” and the “Cadillac-ack-ack-ack-ack.” Other highlights included “Thunder Road,” “A Matter Of Trust,” “Spirit In The Night” and “New York State of Mind.” If anyone on earth was ready for such an evening, it was Joel’s multi-instrumentalist Crystal Taliefero, who toured with Springsteen in 1992/93 tour. Whether it was playing the bongos on “River Of Dreams” or filling in for Clarence on the sax “10th Avenue Freeze-Out,” the woman knew what she was doing.

Earlier in the night John Legend and India.Arie played “Ordinary People” and U2’s “Pride (In The Name of Love)” during a brief acoustic set. They came out again at the end for a cover of “People Get Ready” and the grand finale of “Signed, Sealed, Delivered I’m Yours,” during which Barck and Michelle Obama stood center stage clapping and occasionally singing along. It was a great night — worth every penny — though there was much work to be done. As Caroline Kennedy told the crowd before the show while urging them to volunteer: “This is the last time you can have this much fun for the next twenty days.”

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On Saturday, Bruce Springsteen kicked off three days of Vote For Change concerts on behalf of Barack Obama with a powerful acoustic set that drew estimated 50,000 to the Ben Franklin Parkway in Philadelphia. Cutting a distinctly Woody Guthriesque profile in rolled up flannel, denim and tousled hair, Springsteen stood atop a 30 foot high stage emblazoned with the word “CHANGE” and belted out a seven-song, 45 minute acoustic set as a gift for Obama volunteers and a catalyst for the disengaged to register to vote. Plenty of people heard the call — according to the Obama campaign, some 21,000 new voters were registered as a result of the event.

“I’m not Barack Obama, but I’ll do my best,” said Springsteen, before wheezing his harmonica like an angry freight train launching into a tense, jingle-jangle reading of “The Promised Land,” his 1978 affirmation of faith in the ideal American in a time of dwindling opportunity and diminished expectations.

Four songs later — including a like-minded “The Ghost Of Tom Joad,” the obligatory “Thunder Road” and the rarely-heard “Does This Bus Stop At 82nd Street?” — Bruce spoke humbly about why he believes in Barack Obama. “I’ve spent most of my creative life measuring the distance between that American promise and American reality. The distance between that promise and that reality has never been greater or more painful. I believe Senator Obama has taken the measure of that distance in his own life and in his work. I believe as president, he would work to restore that promise to so many of our fellow citizens who have justifiably lost faith in its meaning.”

After a mournful rendition of Woody Guthrie’s “This Land Is Your Land,” Springsteen sent the people back out onto the streets with marching orders to take their country back from “those who who would sell it down the river for a quick buck.”

Set List:
“The Promised Land”
“The Ghost of Tom Joad”
“Thunder Road”
“No Surrender”
“Does This Bus Stop at 82nd Street?”
“The Rising”
“This Land Is Your Land”

Bruce Springsteen’s Speech:

“Hello Philly, I am glad to be here today for this voter registration drive and for Barack Obama, the next President of the United States.

“I’ve spent 35 years writing about America, its people, and the meaning of the American Promise. The Promise that was handed down to us, right here in this city from our founding fathers, with one instruction: Do your best to make these things real. Opportunity, equality, social and economic justice, a fair shake for all of our citizens, the American idea, as a positive influence, around the world for a more just and peaceful existence. These are the things that give our lives hope, shape, and meaning. They are the ties that bind us together and give us faith in our contract with one another.

“I’ve spent most of my creative life measuring the distance between that American promise and American reality. For many Americans, who are today losing their jobs, their homes, seeing their retirement funds disappear, who have no healthcare, or who have been abandoned in our inner cities. The distance between that promise and that reality has never been greater or more painful.

“I believe Senator Obama has taken the measure of that distance in his own life and in his work. I believe he understands, in his heart, the cost of that distance, in blood and suffering, in the lives of everyday Americans. I believe as president, he would work to restore that promise to so many of our fellow citizens who have justifiably lost faith in its meaning. After the disastrous administration of the past 8 years, we need someone to lead us in an American reclamation project. In my job, I travel the world, and occasionally play big stadiums, just like Senator Obama. I’ve continued to find, wherever I go, America remains a repository of people’s hopes, possibilities, and desires, and that despite the terrible erosion to our standing around the world, accomplished by our recent administration, we remain, for many, a house of dreams. One thousand George Bushes and one thousand Dick Cheneys will never be able to tear that house down.

“They will, however, be leaving office, dropping the national tragedies of Katrina, Iraq, and our financial crisis in our laps. Our sacred house of dreams has been abused, looted, and left in a terrible state of disrepair. It needs care; it needs saving, it needs defending against those who would sell it down the river for power or a quick buck. It needs strong arms, hearts, and minds. It needs someone with Senator Obama’s understanding, temperateness, deliberativeness, maturity, compassion, toughness, and faith, to help us rebuild our house once again. But most importantly, it needs us. You and me. To build that house with the generosity that is at the heart of the American spirit. A house that is truer and big enough to contain the hopes and dreams of all of our fellow citizens. That is where our future lies. We will rise or fall as a people by our ability to accomplish this task. Now I don’t know about you, but I want that dream back, I want my America back, I want my country back.

“So now is the time to stand with Barack Obama and Joe Biden, roll up our sleeves, and come on up for the rising.”

Billy Joel and Bruce Springsteen will reportedly team up for a Barack Obama benefit concert at NYC’s Hammerstein Ballroom on October 16th. The concert will be Obama’s last NY appearance prior to the November 4th election. Donors were notified about the concert today. The performance will be the first time Springsteen and Joel — two titans of the tri-state area rock scene — ever played the same bill. And while Joel recently sold out two nights at Shea Stadium and Springsteen is about to be broadcast to the millions at this year’s Super Bowl, their Hammerstein Ballroom will harbor a scant 2,500-person capacity. As if the concert wasn’t amazing enough, the show also promises more “exciting guests.”

Tickets range from $500 for the balcony to $2,500 for premium seats to $10,000 for “lounge tickets.” Springsteen announced on his website back in April that he endorsed Barack Obama. Bruce and Billy join artists like the Grateful Dead and the Allman Brothers who have come together for concerts to support the Democratic presidential candidate.

It’s official. Sources tell Rock Daily that the Grateful Dead will play a fundraiser for Barack Obama on October 13 at Penn State. The band, including Bob Weir, Bill Kreutzmann, Phil Lesh and Mickey Hart, are planning to rehearse next week to prep for the show in one of the more hotly contested presidential swing states with Warren Haynes on lead guitar. Phil Lesh’s son, an Obama volunteer, lined up the gig. “They are all totally committed to the show,” said a friend of Jerry Garcia. Once again, Obama has raised the Dead: The remaining members of the Grateful Dead regrouped for the first time in four years at a “Change Rocks” fundraiser for Barack Obama at Penn State Monday night. Guitarist Bob Weir, babying a set of broken ribs, joined bassist Phil Lesh and drummer Mickey Hart. Drummer Bill Kreutzmann, who did not play at the “Deadheads for Obama” fundraiser last spring, flew in from his Hawaiian holdout to join the band.

The crowd was an even mix of die-hard Deadheads and Penn State students, with the parking lot scene pretty standard, complete with tailgating, music blaring, Frisbees flying, and no hotel vacancies for 30 miles (students paid $30, non-students paid $50). The Allman Brothers started the show, giving the event a flashback to the days when the two bands shared bills at the Filmore in the late 1960s and early ’70s. However, without beer sales and zero-tolerance security, most of the students stayed out in the parking lot partying. Slowly, the seats filled as Derek Trucks and Warren Haynes traded licks and Gregg Allman worked the keys and sang with no signs of his illness that kept him offstage last spring. “It’s a beautiful night,” said Haynes. “It’s an historic night. Don’t forget to vote.”

Between sets, Obama volunteers and security wandered the floor of the sold-out 16,000-seat Bryce Jordan Center in State College, Pennsylvania as a video message from the candidate played: “For 20 months, I’ve been traveling this country from town to town — even developing a ‘Touch of Grey’ of my own,” Obama said. “On November 5th, I hope to announce that we ‘Ain’t Wasting Time No More.’”

After a photo opp backstage, with Kreutzmann grinning and Weir sitting with his chin pensively in his hand, the band took stage and electrified the crowd. The smoke billowed, glow sticks flew and the crowd roar crept up. For the first two songs — “Truckin’ ” and “U.S. Blues” — it seemed the band was set on giving a Dead primer, offering something everyone could sing to. Turning on a dime after two rock openers, the band suddenly jerked into weird spasms, odd jolts and spacey twangs filled with MIDI effects and dueling bass and guitar play. Pleasingly tweaked and twisted, they plunged into deep and dark waters with “Help On The Way/Slipknot!/Franklin’s Tower,” “Playing in the Band,” “Dark Star” and “St. Stephen.” They came up briefly for air with a gentle “Unbroken Chain,” and quickly sunk back into a vicious “Other One.” By “Throwing Stones” and “Touch of Gray,” the intensity lifted.

“People are just crazy nervous,” said one Obama volunteer. “There are people here that enjoy, you know, illegal things. And Barack doesn’t want to be connected to that. So, security is a little on edge.” Those worries go along with an endorsement by the Dead. The band approached Obama last year, offering their support and considerable influence over legion of Deadheads. “We’re all deeply into this, into Barack Obama and the thought of taking this country back in some shape or form, what’s left of it,” Hart said recently. “It’s probably one thing we can all agree on. It’s funny that an Obama event would do that, but that’s how important and critical this election is. It’s our call to arms, or call to music, which is the way we arm ourselves.”

Through the show, the remaining rhythm section leaned into one another and seemingly bonded once again. Weir, Lesh, Kreutzmann and Hart gave off a sense of genuine enjoyment. But don’t get too excited just yet. Spurning whispers of a possible reunion tour, longtime Grateful Dead publicist and historian Dennis McNally has cautioned, “They just want to see how it feels.”

The Dead Set List:

“U.S. Blues”
“Help On The Way/Slipknot!/Franklin’s Tower”
“Playing In The Band”
“Dark Star”
“St. Stephen”
“Unbroken Chain”
“The Other One”
“Throwing Stones”
“Playing Reprise”


“Touch of Grey”/”Not Fade Away”