Deadheads are fanatics of the group The Grateful Dead. If you know a Deadhead, then you are aware of just how committed to the group they are. And even though Jerry Garcia is no longer with us, and the legendary jam band is now disbanded, Deadheads are alive and well. In Buffalo, there are a number of tribute groups that keep the band’s memories and music alive. There’s even a mural of Jerry himself located on the side of the Terrapin Station building on Hertel Avenue.
Buffalo deadheads know a lot about The Grateful Dead. It’s like a second job. So while they probably know that on March 17, 1970 (on St. Patrick’s Day), The Grateful Dead performed in Buffalo with the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra (BPO) at Kleinhans Music Hall (then music director Lukas Foss). A handful of diehard Deadheads could also tell you that a tape from the performance does not exist! And if you know anything about The Dead, and their devote fanbase, there’s a tape for just about every performance under the sun. Most of these tapes were bootlegged, and sold and traded at shows. It is therefore a mystery that this particular concert was never taped… or maybe it was, yet the tape was never found?
Little record of the performance remains, but the BPO was able to piece the set list together from various reviews and articles that exist from the time.
Since this “lost performance” might never surface as a recording, the BPO has decided to recreate the concert for zealot Deadheads that have been on the hunt for the tape for upwards of 50 years.
On Tuesday, February 25, at 7:30 pm, a remake of this lost performance get underway, featuring tribute band Crazy Fingers and the BPO, with guest conductor Bradley Thacuk. While the concert might not be an exact recreation of the “lost concert”, Dark Star (part of the original set list) will be included on the set list, among others.
“When we realized it was nearly fifty years since the lost Grateful dead performance, we knew it was a sign,” said Daniel Hart, executive director of the BPO. “That show became not only a monumental piece of Dead fan history, but it also marked one of the earliest collaborations between a rock band and an orchestra. Since then, our BPO Rocks series has grown to 5 concerts each season, nearly all of which fill the house to capacity.”
“It’s a huge night for us, for sure,” said Crazy Fingers co-founder Peter Lavezzoli, whose Dead tribute band has played more than 5000 shows. “We are extremely honored that the BPO asked us to be part of this historical event at Kleinhans Music Hall. We hope to make Jerry and the boys proud.”
Lavezzoli will be playing alongside fellow Crazy Fingers members Rich Friedman, guitar and vocals; Josh Foster, keyboards and vocals; Peter Lavezzoli, drums and vocals (also of Melvin Seals and Jerry Garcia tribute band JGB); Johnny Nichols, guitar and vocals; and special guest Robin Sylvester, Bob Weir’s bass guitarist for more than a decade.
The concert is part of the wildly popular BPO Rocks series.
Following The Music of The Grateful Dead, the popular 2019-2020 BPO Rocks series lineup concludes with Jefferson Starship, featuring founding band member David Freiberg, on Fri. Apr. 24 at 8 p.m. at Kleinhans Music Hall. Under the monikers Jefferson Starship and the band’s original name, Jefferson Airplane, they became known for hard rock hits like “Somebody to Love,” “Find Your Way Back,” “Red Octopus,” and more.
The 2020-2021 BPO Rocks series will be announced later this spring.
Tickets to The Music of The Grateful dead with the BPO are on sale now. Call (716)885-5000, visit bpo.org, or stop by the Kleinhans Box Office between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m. Monday through Friday and 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturdays.
Lead image courtesy Warner Bros. Records