Jim Tuedio and Stan Spector
The Grateful Dead in Concert
Essays on Live Improvisation
In a career that spanned three decades the Grateful Dead are rock music’s ultimate jam band. To jam, of course, is to improvise, to engage in “spontaneous, extemporaneous expression.” In The Grateful Dead in Concert: Essays on Live Improvisation (McFarland, 2010), Jim Tuedio, professor of philosophy at California State University-Stanislaus, and Stan Spector, professor of philosophy at Modesto Junior College, collect essays from an eclectic group of writers on just this subject. The thread that binds the twenty-nine essays together is that improvisation in the Grateful Dead world was not limited to the band’s music (though this is where it is most clearly stated). Improvisation also occurred more broadly in the philosophies of the band members, in the band’s business practices, and in the spontaneous behaviors of the band’s loyal following of Deadheads. All these forms of improvisation are addressed in these stimulating essays.
In addition to the editors, contributing authors include Rebecca G. Adams, Cristian Amigo, Barry Barnes, Graeme M. Boone, Gary Burnett, Revell Carr, Elizabeth Carroll, Christian Crumlish, Amanda Diederich-Hirsh, Natalie J. Dollar, David Gans, Steven Gimbel, Mary Goodenough, Stanley Krippner, David Malvinni, Erin McCoy, Nicholas Meriwether, Jean Millay, Shaugn O’Donnell, Eric K. Silverman, Alan Trist, Jay Williams, Jason Kemp Winfree, and Brent Wood.
The music in the introduction and conclusion to this interview is “Sugar Magnolia” (Robert Hunter and Bob Weir) performed by the Grateful Dead on the album “The Closing of Winterland: December 31 1978” (Rhino Records).