John Mayer And The Grateful Dead

Officially, there hasn’t been a Grateful Dead concert since 1995, when the musical entity with that name dissolved following guitarist Jerry Garcia’s death. But try telling that to the fans filling baseball stadiums and sheds this summer to see most of the surviving members under the banner of Dead & Company, most lately for two shows this past weekend at Boston’s Fenway Park. Riding yet another wave of popularity following the band’s 50th anniversary last year, the Dead’s 21st century crest also comes with a long-term critical reappraisal by the world outside the band’s cosmos-sized Deadhead bubble, lately including the National’s high-profile, big-budget multi-disc “Day of the Dead” tribute.
Yet for a certain segment of Dead freaks, Dead & Co. presents a conundrum in the form of a lead guitarist: the blues-pop phenom and human GIF John Mayer, the musical and visual opposite of Jerry Garcia in nearly every regard. Where the autodidact Garcia was a model of psychedelic beardo cool (young) and dope-addled Santa Claus inertia (later), Mayer’s Blues Hammer melodrama, flashy stage moves, and fashion awareness make him an odd substitute for Garcia’s black t-shirts and bluegrass delicacy. One satirical Dead-loving site refers to him frequently as “Josh.”

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