By Brian Ives
If you ever saw the Grateful Dead in concert, you know that the attraction of the event was as much about the community as it was about the band. They had great nights and they had not-so-great nights—such is the risk of changing set lists and improvising—but you could have had a great time at the show regardless, because Dead shows weren’t just about the band’s performance but about the audience as well. Strangers would create fierce jams via drum circles, and fans just walking around with acoustic guitars or other instruments could bust into impromptu renditions of Dead songs with collaborators they’d never met before and maybe would never see again.
That spirit is prevalent in a new version of the Dead’s “Ripple,” put together by Playing for Change, the organization that records people around the world playing the same song and then edits them together for one collective performance.
Among the players in the video are Grateful Dead drummer Billy Kreutzmann (using the Preservation Hall Jazz Band’s drum kit), Jimmy Buffett, David Crosby and David Hildago of Los Lobos, along with lesser-known musicians from New Orleans, Israel, the Congo, Argentina, Ghana and Los Angeles, among other locales.
The Grateful Dead, of course, just retired their name after a string of three shows in Chicago and two in Santa Clara, Calif. You can download their July 3 show for free, at least for now.
Learn more about Playing For Change, which has produced similar videos for Ben E. King’s “Stand By Me” and Bob Marley’s “One Love,” at their website.