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Image courtesy of the BPO
Image courtesy of the BPO

Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra to recreate 'lost' Grateful Dead performance at Kleinhans Music Hall


Tue, Feb 4th 2020 02:35 pm

Tribute band Crazy Fingers pays homage to unrecorded St. Patrick’s Day 1970 program 50 years later as part of ‘BPO Rocks’ series

On March 17, St. Patrick’s Day 1970, The Grateful Dead performed in Buffalo with the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra at Kleinhans Music Hall.

The concert is shrouded in mystery.

While a tape exists of almost all performances of the Dead, a recording of this “lost performance” at Kleinhans has yet to ever surface.

At 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 25, Deadheads will finally get what they have been wishing nearly 50 years for: A remake of this lost performance, featuring tribute band Crazy Fingers and the BPO with guest conductor Bradley Thacuk.

While the show is not an exact recreation, it will feature “Dark Star,” which was part of the original set list, as well as other fan favorites. The concert is part of the popular “BPO Rocks” series.

The original St. Patrick’s Day performance of 1970 featured the Grateful Dead lineup of Jerry Garcia, Bob Weir, Phil Lesh, Ron “Pigpen” McKernan, Bill Kreutzmann and Mickey Hart with the BPO and then-music director Lukas Foss. Combining a rock band with an orchestra almost never happened at that time, but Foss, an innovator, decided to take a chance on the Dead.

Little record of the performance remains, but the BPO was able to piece the setlist together from various reviews and articles that exist from the time.

“When we realized it was nearly 50 years since the lost Grateful dead performance, we knew it was a sign,” said Daniel Hart, executive director of the BPO. “That show became not only a monumental piece of Dead fan history, but it also marked one of the earliest collaborations between a rock band and an orchestra. Since then, our ‘BPO Rocks’ series has grown to five concerts each season, nearly all of which fill the house to capacity.”

Crazy Fingers features current members Rich Friedman, guitar and vocals; Josh Foster, keyboards and vocals; Peter Lavezzoli, drums and vocals (also of Melvin Seals and Jerry Garcia tribute band JGB); Johnny Nichols, guitar and vocals; and special guest Robin Sylvester, Bob Weir's bass guitarist for more than a decade. The band has played over 5,000 live shows, sustaining a devoted following and a nationwide reputation as one of the premiere Grateful Dead tribute bands.

“It’s a huge night for us, for sure,” Lavezzoli said. “We are extremely honored that the BPO asked us to be part of this historical event at Kleinhans Music Hall. We hope to make Jerry and the boys proud.”

Following “The Music of The Grateful Dead,” the 2019-20 “BPO Rocks” series lineup concludes with Jefferson Starship, featuring founding band member David Freiberg, at 8 p.m. Friday, April 24, at Kleinhans Music Hall. Under the monikers Jefferson Starship and the band’s original name, Jefferson Airplane, the act became known for hard rock hits “Somebody to Love,” “Find Your Way Back” and “Red Octopus.”

Additional “BPO Rocks” series shows will be announced later this spring.

Tickets to “The Music of The Grateful Dead” with the BPO are on sale now. Call 716-885-5000, visit bpo.org, or stop by the Kleinhans box office between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m. weekdays or 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturdays.

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