Fairfield University professor available as a resource on Grateful Dead reunion

Fairfield University professor available as a resource on Grateful Dead reunion

Fairfield University Professor, who spoke at recent Grateful Dead conference, shares his perspectives on core four’s final shows and their place in American cultural history: “ The metaphysics of time and space  -- even with the absence of bandleader Jerry Garcia – will be resurrected…”

Philip Eliasoph Anticipating a keynote address by Grateful Dead expert, Nicholas G. Meriwether, at Fairfield University’s ‘Celebrating American Studies’ Conference on Saturday, March 28, 2015, the University is right in step with the national buzz over the legendary band’s 50 th Reunion this summer. The Dead’s surviving members are reuniting for three shows in what will be the last performances by the ‘core four.’  It’s a seminal moment not only in music history, but American cultural history, said Philip Eliasoph, Ph.D., Fairfield University Professor of Art History in the Department of Visual and Performing Arts. Dr. Eliasoph presented a groundbreaking Art History paper at a recent conference, “So Many Roads: The World of the Grateful Dead,” organized by the Grateful Dead Archives at the University of California at Santa Cruz and staged at San Jose State University, attended by 120 scholars, film makers, documentarians,  journalists, musicologists, and first-hand veterans of the San Francisco scene.

“Imagine if the four Beatles were to be re-united for a lightning bolt show at a stadium in the heart of the USA, if a ‘dream team’ of NBA basketball’s five legends were to re-unite for a one shot Olympic event, or our heroic top three Apollo astronauts decided to fly to the moon ‘just one more time’ as a redux – approximates this ‘once in a lifetime’ moment,” said Dr. Eliasoph. “The tribes of the counter culture of the Sixties and a new generation of Millennial fans and Phish inspire jammers will be converging at Soldiers Field, Chicago for the Grateful Dead’s 50 th reunion over July 4 th week.  The metaphysics of time and space  -- even with the absence of bandleader Jerry Garcia – will be resurrected when the ‘Core Four’ – Lesh, Hart, Kreutzmann, and Weir plug in for the three-night celebration. Their endless riffs, born out of the bedrock of American Delta blues, Texas twang country/western, and cosmic psychedelic ‘Acid rock’ is a continuously long jam session.  Garcia once said: ‘Every night we played we felt it was like going to church – maybe a pretty ‘far out’ church – but a spiritual experience nonetheless.’ ”

“This incomparable musical legacy emerged out of the San Francisco’s ‘beatnik’ scene of the late 1950s in North Beach, Lawrence Ferlinghetti’s poetry, Allen Ginsberg’s ‘Howl’, Jack Kerouac’s ‘On the Road’ and the proto-hippie- Merry Pranksters – all American non-conformists attempting to discover that long journey and path back to our American roots of individualism and freedom,” commented Dr. Eliasoph.

In Dr. Eliasoph’s research, he discovered a rich legacy of Dead iconography which has cleverly recycled and revived many of the key styles and movements of western art. From images on Greek vases of Dionysian rites, to the medieval danse macabre, or those flowing, organic Art Nouveau designs of Belle Epoch Paris, Grateful Dead posters and album art found an echoing resonance across the centuries.

At the upcoming Fairfield conference, Nicholas G. Meriwether, the Founding Director of the Grateful Dead Archive housed at the University of California at Santa Cruz, will offer an overview of his first-hand contact with original band members and key participants in the emerging San Francisco acid rock scene launching the youth rebellion of the 1960s. Educated at Princeton and Oxford, he has become the central hub in the wheel out at “Dead Central” – in charge of massive original materials about the band and its role in American cultural history. For details, visit http://www.fairfield.edu/academics/schoolscollegescenters/collegeofartssciences/graduateprograms/mainamericanstudies/events/.

Posted On: 01-29-2015 03:01 PM

Volume: 47 Number: 165