The Grateful Lifeless documentary units the report straight

Greater than 25 years after the final Grateful Lifeless live performance, curiosity within the iconic San Francisco group reveals no indicators of declining. For these curious how a band with only one prime 10 hit might exert such lasting attraction, a brand new documentary Diffusion on Vimeo affords a contemporary have a look at why.

Directed by Bay Space filmmaker Lonnie Frazier, “Rain Box” affords a loving and considerate tackle the fan-made world of The Grateful Lifeless. With a variety of narrators, together with well-known authorities comparable to author Peter Conners in addition to the director and her mates, the movie presents a variety of views on how followers of the band – dubbed Deadheads – view their expertise with the group. , music and scene. The outcomes forged a large internet, commenting on each well-known Deadhead practices like dancing, dressing up, and touring, in addition to extra sub rosa actions, comparable to drug use.

The movie doesn’t dwell on the darker features of the scene. Certainly, a lot of the facility of “Field of Rain” stems from Frazier’s personal expertise, which she determined to make the principle level midway by means of the challenge. The movie opens along with her escape as a teen from a poisonous dwelling surroundings in a scene with Deadhead embracing her, exhibiting her how one can reclaim her humanity. The group has helped her construct a brand new life utilizing the values ​​and beliefs of what she calls her new household to create a satisfying life and profession.

“It was such a liberating expertise,” Frazier instructed SFGATE in a current interview. “I say this within the movie: it fully modified the way in which I lived my life and the issues I used to be in a position to do as a profession. I am undecided I might have had the identical braveness to do these items if it wasn’t for the Deadhead group.

American psychedelic rock band The Grateful Dead pose at the corner of 20th and Connecticut in Potrero Hill, San Francisco, circa 1965.

American psychedelic rock band The Grateful Lifeless pose on the nook of twentieth and Connecticut in Potrero Hill, San Francisco, circa 1965.

Archives Hulton/Getty Photos

The thought for the movie was born at a gathering of Deadheads about 10 years in the past. Talking concerning the current dying of a buddy, one participant stated she was particularly unhappy that she would by no means hear her buddy’s Grateful Lifeless tales once more. It was an actual group want, Frazier realized. She went to work, however after recording only some interviews, she acknowledged that these tales represented one thing greater. The documentary emerged organically, and when mates and fellow followers caught on to the challenge, they supplied to assist, turning the challenge itself into a mirrored image of the group and its values.

That spirit pervades the movie, making it an necessary addition to the rising Grateful Lifeless filmography. A lot of them are documentaries, together with the group’s monumental effort “The Grateful Lifeless Film” capturing the band and the scene at their peak, simply earlier than they retired from the street within the fall of 1974 throughout 18 months. It was complemented by a number of different insider testimonials, capped by Amir Bar-Lev’s licensed retrospective “Lengthy Unusual Journey”, launched in 2017. These movies embody followers, however there have additionally been a number of efforts centered on followers, by Brian O’Donnell. “Deadheads” (1991) and Andrew Behar’s “Tie-Dyed” (1995) to Brent Meeske’s “The Finish of the Highway” (2005).


“Field of Rain” takes an extended view of the scene, from its heyday within the mid-’80s earlier than the hit “Contact of Gray” ended the band’s halcyon days of under-the-radar standing within the post-80s period. Garcia which continues right now. This size defines the aim of the movie, which is to elucidate how a scene usually dismissed as nothing greater than rock ‘n’ roll hedonism truly supplied individuals one thing rather more substantial, constructive and life-affirming. . Frazier skilled this stigma herself: When her colleagues came upon she was a fan, “so many individuals had nothing however damaging issues to say. And sooner or later I believed, “I can do one thing about this, if I present individuals what I’ve discovered, what I’ve seen within the Deadhead group.”

Watkins Glen Rock Festival, Summer Jam in Watkins Glen, NY featuring Allman Brothers, Grateful Dead and The Band.  Some 600,000 rock enthusiasts rushed for a day-long concert on a race track.

Watkins Glen Rock Competition, Summer season Jam in Watkins Glen, NY that includes Allman Brothers, Grateful Lifeless and The Band. Some 600,000 rock fans rushed for a day-long live performance on a race monitor.

New York Each day Information through Getty Photos

The hole between this stigma and the truth that Frazier skilled is a crucial theme within the band’s writing, however much less so within the movie. “The Music By no means Stopped,” impressed by a chapter in Oliver Sacks’ 1995 e book “An Anthropologist on Mars,” is an exception, however Frazier’s movie attracts inspiration from and contributes to the rising work on the Lifeless scene that acknowledges its most original qualities. . Peter Conners’ “Rising Up Lifeless” is one instance, a literary memoir that additionally informs his testimony within the movie, but it surely additionally confirms a long-standing theme in Deadhead lore.

An interview topic instructed author Linda Kelly that “my very first Lifeless present was very religious. I felt secure, prefer it was place to be, I felt cared for. One other younger girl instructed Kelly that “The Grateful Lifeless made me notice that music may be religious and that you’ll find the great within the individuals round you. Which you can open up and never damage your self. And that life may be enjoyable, even when issues are unhealthy, should you smile and let your self have enjoyable.

The Grateful Dead celebrate the New Year with a balloon release at the Oakland Auditorium on December 31, 1979.

The Grateful Lifeless have a good time the New 12 months with a balloon launch on the Oakland Auditorium on December 31, 1979.

Name Clayton/Redferns

These anecdotal claims are supported by a rising physique of educational work. Deadhead resilience is a topic studied by psychiatrist Adam D. Brown, a professor at The New Faculty. His work builds on Fordham College psychologist Mark Mattson’s research of Deadhead reminiscence, which have demonstrated its affirmative energy. Their work provides to Deborah Baiano-Berman’s evaluation of the Deadhead scene as an ethical group. The hyperlink between particular person therapeutic and group well being is important and fragile, as present occasions at dwelling and overseas remind us.

However “Field of Rain” tells an accessible story, not only a well timed one. Frazier’s experiments affirm this. “I keep in mind assembly individuals who lived down the street who created lovely artworks and bought them to fund their travels,” she stated. However she additionally met legal professionals and CEOs who loved their time at commerce reveals. “I had by no means seen something like this, the place individuals got here from so many alternative backgrounds and had this expertise collectively that everybody loved, however then went again to their very own factor with out judgment or criticism.” This lesson appears significantly related right now.

Dead heads pose in front of Grateful Dead posters in a Haight-Ashbury apartment in January 1980 in San Francisco.

Lifeless heads pose in entrance of Grateful Lifeless posters in a Haight-Ashbury condo in January 1980 in San Francisco.

Ed Perlstein/Redferns

“You possibly can give attention to medicine, you’ll be able to give attention to dropping out of society,” Frazier stated. “However ultimately, these individuals constructed a group that was all about love and assist and authenticity. And I simply thought that was so distinctive.

The movie has already received accolades, together with Finest American Documentary on the Austin Worldwide Artwork Competition in 2021. “Field of Rain” will seemingly discover its largest viewers amongst followers, but it surely affords different viewers a compelling and sometimes transferring account of causes for which the scene exercised. such a robust name, and continues to take action right now, greater than 1 / 4 century after the dying of Jerry Garcia.

Nicholas G. Meriwether is Director of Museum Planning and Growth on the Haight Road Artwork Heart. He curated the continuing exhibition “Psychedelic Renaissance: Posters of the Household Canine and Payments Graham Presents, 1965-1967,” which runs till Might 15.

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