Amen, Bill (except I don't love Warren's playing either). When Jerry passed, I thought no one could replace him. Now with a number of guitar players having come through the band, I stand by that even more. I am not talking about playing him note for note; I am talking about the spirit in which the music was intended. My thought was that could they continue to make new, experimental music (granted, their best days were behind them in that respect, but I digress). Maybe replace Jerry with an avante sax player like, Greg Osby or David Murray and go off onto something new. As a second thought, Nels Cline (I am not talking about his tenure with Wilco as an example. He had a 30 year career previous playing incredible music) would have been an interesting match for a guitar player who could really stretch them or maybe Henry Kaiser, both of whom know the Dead material. I thought the results would have been terrific.
Unfortunately, not one of the guitar players that have sat in the seat since (except maybe Kimock) could pull it off. No one could really expect them to, most all of them have lacked and lacked badly IMO.
I always considered some of the tenets of the Grateful Dead to be "be yourself", "be original" and “move forward”. Yet now, the current touring scene is a disappointment to me as it seems the most revered are the ones that can copy Jerry and the boys note for note and be not at all original. I believe Bill K. had also previously made some statement about the conundrum of talented musicians aping others instead of finding their own voice. I understand the influence of a musician on an aspiring player, but aping someone is never what I thought playing music is about. Yes, they covered a lot of tunes by people they respected, but did the tunes in their own style. What I am talking about here isn’t that.
They themselves have for years now become at best a cover band and at worst a parody of themselves. Mind you, I love the guys, been with them a very long time, but I sit and watch the scene as an interested bystander rather than a concert going participant anymore.
The idea is to move forward; again, at least I thought it was. I was lucky enough (in retrospect very lucky) to have seen them on good nights in 1971-1974 (with 1972 being the apex) and to this day, I have never seen a band come close, certainly not any rendition without Jerry, any cover band or any other band for that matter (Well, maybe Crimson or Mahavishnu on some level, but that’s quite different). I somehow don't understand why people are interested in the current and recent bands. "I didn't get to see them back in the day" is one response. Yea, I didn't get to see the Beatles, but searching out Beatles cover bands in an attempt to replicate an experience that can not be replicated isn’t really going to do it.
So, don’t kill me. I am as much a fan as anyone, but I think the essence of what at least I thought they were really about is ignored (not by all, there are many who agree with me) and in its place is some “Golden Calf”.