The Grateful Dead tribute band Shakedown Street is celebrating its 30th anniversary, meaning the Colorado outfit has been at it as long as the original Dead lineup was between 1965 and Jerry Garcia’s death in 1995.
Over the decades since it was formed in 1987 during barroom jam sessions in Manitou Springs, Shakedown has become a Colorado institution and one of the best regarded Dead tribute bands anywhere.
But you can teach an old Dead cover band new tricks.
Over the past seven years, Shakedown has made a habit of playing the Dead’s enormously popular triple-disc live album “Europe ’72” at Belly Up and elsewhere. More recently, they’ve been picking out specific shows from that vaunted tour and recreating the sets. Last year in Aspen they replicated the Dead’s concert at Tivoli Theater in Copenhagen on April 14, 1972.
“We’ve played the album so many times, so we wanted to change it up,” Shakedown keyboardist Joe Weisiger said last year during one of the band’s stops at Belly Up, where Shakedown Street returns on Friday.
The members of Shakedown Street all have soundboard recordings from the whole tour and study the intricacies of them as they’re preparing their own sets. Songs evolve through repeat performances, of course. So, for instance, solos on “You Win Again” in Copenhagen were completely different from those captured on the “Europe ’72” recording. It’s a new challenge for Shakedown, which in years past has been known to take audience requests and been less strict about its set lists. Musical mimicry is less important to Weisiger and his cohort than capturing the Dead’s spirit of improvisation and discovery in performances that can transport the…
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