It’s all happening this Fourth of July weekend. Dead & Company are playing Folsom Field in Boulder, CO for two live shows and  you’ll be able to hear it all on the Grateful Dead Channel (Ch. 23)!

Dead & Company features founding Grateful Dead members Bob Weir, Mickey Hart and Bill Kreutzmann, along with John Mayer who, when it was first announced that he would be joining the members of the Grateful Dead for their Dead & Company tour, received some backlash from Deadheads who were skeptical that he was worthy to perform under the “Dead” name.

In time, however, Mayer has made believers out of many Dead fans and is grateful they’ve accepted him.

Gary Lambert, one of the hosts of Tales From The Golden Road, spoke with Mayer last November about his experience falling in love with the Dead’s music, how he learned the songs, his regard for Jerry Garcia, and how he feels he’s defied people’s expectations of him.

“For me its figuring out not just C-F-G but what those numbers are and what that is theoretically and how Jerry Garcia – I can’t say just ‘Jerry,’ you almost want to say ‘Mr. Garcia’ in terms of the way I sort of don’t want to sound like I’m ingratiating myself – but there’s a reason for it, and if you learn the reason for it then you can understand how to speak a little more fluently on the solos. …You learn the song, and then you dive into it,” Mayer said.

And now, after this “experiment” has turned into a winning ensemble, we caught up again with Weir and Mayer backstage at their New York City shows on June 25 and 26 to talk about what fans can expect from this summer’s tour.

“It’s big fun. Everybody can play … [Mayer’s] been burning the midnight oil, I’ll tell you that,” Weir said. “He’s quite often in the register that Jerry would be in. Not playing those licks, but he’s in that register. He’s a Berklee boy. He studied this stuff and just osmoted, I guess, the registers and the kind of the tone, to some degree, that Jerry would be using at any given point. At some point it will be time for him to abandon all that and just go his own way as this band grows into its own self. And if that sounds irreverent, so be it.”

And Mayer can also feel his own growth. Talking about how he recently “shuddered” when he heard a performance from the winter shows, he was able to put it into the perspective that he’s just becoming more and more fluent in a new language he was just starting to learn back then.

“Now that I’ve played the songs so many times, and practiced the songs so many times and visited that sort of harmonic sort of world, I’m able to express myself in any number of different ways in the language of the music, or the scale, or the chord in a way that’s a lot less repetitive and a lot more … everything sort of blooms a little more. It’s a great word that Bobby uses sometimes,” Mayer said.

Tune in Saturday 7/2 and Sunday 7/3 at 8:30 pm ET to the Grateful Dead Channel (Ch. 23) to hear both shows live from Boulder.

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