Classic Rock Corner

The Dead Come Back Alive, On Big Screen, For One Night Only

Grateful Dead concerts were always something of a time machine that took both casual fans and hardcore Deadheads back to another era. And for one night only, the machine goes back more than 20 years -- to July 18, 1989 to be exact -- for the Grateful Dead Second Annual Meet-Up At the Movies.

A filmed 2.5-hour show from the band's gig that date at Wisconsin's Alpine Valley Music Theatre will be shown on the big screen at movie theaters across the country, along with a slideshow of rare photos to a previously unreleased live track from 1974.

Rocks Off spoke with the Dead's very, very busy Legacy Manager David Lemieux -- whose encyclopedic knowledge about the all things GD is legendary -- about that particular night.

Rocks Off: How was this particular show chosen to be screened?

DL: This is one of the best shows from one of the best tours of the last 15 years of Grateful Dead touring. In addition to the performance being exceptional, it was masterfully directed by long-time Grateful Dead live concert director Len Dell'Amico from six cameras, and was recorded by Grateful Dead producer John Cutler, with terrific sound and visuals to go with the show's top-notch quality.

RO: What are some of the musical highlights in the concert?

DL: The first set opens with a duet of major Grateful Dead rockers, "Touch Of Grey" and "Jack Straw." The first set later features one of the deepest, most inspired versions of "Bird Song" from that era.

The second set begins with a rare opener, "Sugar Magnolia," and ends with its reprise, "Sunshine Daydream." It features of loads of great material in between, including fan favorites "Scarlet Begonias," "Eyes Of The World," "China Doll" and "Throwing Stones," as well as the combination of classic covers "Dear Mr. Fantasy" segueing into "Hey Jude," all capped by an encore of Bob Dylan's "The Mighty Quinn."

RO: How does this era fall into Dead history?

DL: Without a doubt, and without hyperbole, this is one of the top three or four eras in GD history. The summer of 1989 through spring of 1990 marks the final of the Grateful Dead's golden eras, up there with 1968-early 1969, 1972-74 and 1977.

Best described as peak-era Grateful Dead, the summer of 1989 marked the start of the band's last sustained run of consistently great playing, which ran into the spring of 1990.

The Grateful Dead Second Annual-Meet Up at the Movies is 7 p.m. Thursday, April 19, at nine theatres in Houston and surrounding cities. For complete information and tickets, visit

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Bob Ruggiero has been writing about music, books, visual arts and entertainment for the Houston Press since 1997, with an emphasis on classic rock. He used to have an incredible and luxurious mullet in college as well. He is the author of the band biography Slippin’ Out of Darkness: The Story of WAR.
Contact: Bob Ruggiero