Do you remember your first Grateful Dead concert? The one you went to before Jerry got really tired and grizzled? Maybe you're having a hard time remembering after the concoction of mind erasers you took that day, but it wouldn't have been a real Dead concert otherwise, right? Perhaps you wore your most worn-out, treasured tie-dyed T-shirt -- the one Sunshine made for you during that backyard Ripple party -- with a fringed vest for cover and your headband cocked just so. You might have stood in a stupor for what -- hours? days? -- swaying precariously like your shoes were stuck to the floor. Maybe you had an especially volatile style of flailing hippie dancing that required you to be fenced off from the rest of the audience. Or were you the type who lay comatose on the ground or across several seats, staring at the clouds, moon or arena ceiling?
And all the while, the Dead -- the Grateful Dead -- noodled away the hours, way up there on the faraway stage, weaving "St. Stephen," "Truckin'" and "Sugar Magnolia" into a tapestry of gossamer threads. Cosmic, wasn't it?
These days, tie-dye has become a uniform for slumming investment bankers and sales reps in search of some sort of alternative universe where they don't have to grow up and drive BMWs. (They're the only ones who can afford to go to most shows.)
Jerry's gone -- along with Ron "Pigpen" McKernan, Keith Godchaux and Brent Mydland. But fortunately for us, the rest of the Dead, formerly known as the Other Ones, are continuing the live tradition. They've got keyboardist Rob Barraco to handle Jerry's lost vocals and veteran jam-band guitarist Jimmy Herring to pick the strings just like Jerry used to do. Ain't that a labor of love? Even Joan Osborne has joined the tour, ensuring that a train of beat-up vans will still trek across the country after these undead Dead -- just like old times.
By now, the Dead will have easily sold out five solid shows at Red Rocks. The first is tonight at 8 p.m., so unless you have connections, you're out on your butt on the wrong side of the rocks. Better luck next time. -- Susan Froyd
Chicks soar above political flap
The Dixie Chicks kicked up a quite a barnyard squabble in March, when lead singer Natalie Maines stated at a London concert that she was ashamed that President Bush is from her home state of Texas. The outcry grew louder than a rooster at dawn, as radio stations across the country yanked the group's new album, Home, from playlists. But the furor, which never reached more than a dull roar here in Denver, doesn't seem to be having an adverse effect on ticket sales for tonight's Chicks show at the Pepsi Center.
"Tickets sales have been through the roof," says Paul Andrews, senior vice president of ticket sales and operations at the Pepsi Center. "It's been practically sold out for months."
But there is still a glimmer of hope for Chicks fans who want to check out this summer's Top of the World Tour: A limited number of tickets may be released today for the 8 p.m. concert, which opens with Michelle Branch. Call the Pepsi Center box office at 303-405-1111.
The Grammy-award-winning trio of Maines, Emily Robison and Martie Maguire first took off in 1998 with the album Wide Open Spaces. Expect the show to include hits such as "Cowboy Take Me Away," "Goodbye Earl" and "Landslide."
The evening fireworks are back at Folsom Field, and a daytime explosion of sound is also planned for today in downtown Boulder. The All-American Music Celebration, a Boulder tradition, will present a day of free concerts on the 1300 block of Pearl Street (in front of the county courthouse). A variety of American music styles will be represented, beginning at 11 a.m. and lasting until 3 p.m. The Rocky Mountain Banjos, a Dixieland band whose members sing and play the washboard as well as strum a slew of banjos, will kick off the celebration from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m with their self-described "truly unique entertainment." From 1 to 2 p.m., Southern rock duo Dana Kyle Stoakes and George Nelson take the stage. For the grand finale, from 2:30 to 3 p.m., the Boulder Concert Band will get down to business and perform the requisite Fourth of July works: American marches and patriotic favorites. "It's really just about music," says organizer Rosemary Lindsay, so bring a picnic or have lunch at a restaurant on the mall, and enjoy the tunes. Call 303-449-3774 for more information. -- Jonelle Wilkinson Seitz
Shakespeare Under the Moon
Tradition flourishes outdoors
How bright and goodly shines the moon tonight! Audiences at this evening's 8:30 p.m. outdoor performance of The Taming of the Shrew, which opens the Colorado Shakespeare Festival, may echo Petruchio's sentiment from the play: The Greek-style Mary Rippon Outdoor Theatre, where most of the plays are performed, affords infinite views of the sky, as well as the Flatirons.
"The atmosphere is superb," says Mell McDonnell, director of marketing for the festival, which is known for showcasing up-and-coming actors.
Many experienced audience members come early to picnic on the green outside the amphitheater, where musicians often perform before the shows. Gourmet box suppers can be pre-ordered 48 hours in advance, or you can bring your own; beer and wine are permitted. Concession stands sell what's known as the Bard's own ale, along with non-alcoholic drinks. In addition to Taming of the Shrew, this year's festival will produce Much Ado About Nothing and Hamlet; it will wrap up with Cymbelineon August 23. Most performances are in the amphitheater on the University of Colorado's Boulder campus (just east of Broadway and College); for those who prefer air-conditioning, there are some shows in the campus's renovated Mainstage Theatre. For information, call 303-492-0554. -- Jonelle Wilkinson Seitz