I’m very proud about my new Ebook, Reckoning: Conversations With the Grateful Dead and hope that you will check it out.

The book includes interviews with Bob Weir, Phil Lesh, Phil and Trey Anastasio together,Robert Hunter, Bill Kreutzmann, Warren Haynes, Dick Latvala, John Kadlecik, Steve Kimock and Mark Karan and many more.

It also includes wonderful photos by Kirk West and Bob Minkin – and it costs $2.99!

Great Dead scholars like Dennis McNally, David Browne and Peter Richardson dig the book – and you will, too.

“I suspect that it is his intimate association with another band, the Allman Brothers, that has given Alan Paul his knowledgeable but balanced view of the Grateful Dead. He’s been one of the leading G.D. observers for years, as this collection proves – connected but not caught up in the mythology. Anyone who wants to know the post-Garcia Dead should read this book.”

-Dennis McNally, Grateful Dead publicist and historian, Author of A Long Strange Trip: The Inside History of the Grateful Dead

“From how songs were written to how disagreements were settled, Alan Paul asks the type of questions every Deadhead wishes he or she could ask of their favorite band. And even better, Alan elicits the honest answers every fan wants to hear from the Dead.”-David Browne, author So Many Roads: The Life and Times of the Grateful Dead

“I’ve read hundreds of Grateful Dead interviews and the ones Alan Paul has collected here as a smart, fresh, honest, and musically astute as any I’ve seen. His exchanges with Phil Lesh, Bob Weir, Robert Hunter, and Bill Kreutzmann complement and update earlier collections and enrich our understanding of the Dead, their project, and their legacy. Insights from Trey Anastasio, Steve Kimock, Mark Karan, John Kadlecik, Warren Haynes, Jimmy Herring, and Dick Latvala only sweeten the offering. Required reading for Deadheads–and for anyone who still harbors doubts about the Dead’s achievement.”

-Peter Richardson, Author, No Simple Highway: A Cultural History of the Grateful Dead

“Alan Paul is the rarest kind of music journalist….one who hears beyond the supposed barriers of tradition, style, era, and genre, and perceives the connections and archetypes at the root of all great and innovative music.  And then he succinctly lays his discoveries at our feet, so that we may hear beyond the illusions too.”
-Reed Mathis, bassist, Billy and the Kids, Tea Leaf Green

Photo by Adrian Boot/www.urbanimage.tv – Featured in Reckoning

The book begins with a new essay, The Music Never Stopped. The intro to the intro:

This story begins at the moment when it seemed that it was ending: August 9, 1995. Every interview in the pages that follow was conducted after Jerry Garcia died. After it seemed inevitable that the long, strange trip was over. A Grateful Dead without Uncle Jerry was unthinkable – most importantly to the band members themselves.

“We had a meeting where names of people who could step in for Jerry were being discussed, and I just said, ‘No way,’” drummer Bill Kreutzmann says in a 2015 interview that opens this collection. “My feeling was that I didn’t make this decision; Jerry did.”

Bassist Phil Lesh also thought that not only was the band done, but so was his time playing the music of the Dead’s rich, 30-year catalog. “I thought I was done with it and with rock and roll,” Lesh told me in 2002. “I had this idea that I would find closure with the music by composing a 45-minute symphonic canvas utilizing Grateful Dead song themes, melodic hooks, rhythmic grooves and chord sequences.

“Then I went out and played a benefit concert with these Bay Area musicians who had continued to be so influenced and sparked by the music. I was blown away realizing the vitality that remained there and I thought, ‘Maybe there’s not supposed to be closure.’”

Lesh’s search then pivoted 180 degrees to the very opposite of closure: an open-ended exploration of the Grateful Dead’s music that has not let up in the ensuing years. Every surviving member went through a similar process of discovery, of realizing and coming to grips with the impact that their music had and the vitality it retained.

Please click here to download and read the rest.

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RIP Stevie Ray Vaughan, gone 25 years

by AlanPaul on August 27, 2015

FOTO BY KIRK WEST – www.kirkwestphotography.com

Twenty five years ago, we lost Stevie Ray Vaughan.

SRV has played a large role throughout my career. Though I never interviewed him because he passed away before I started working for Guitar World, I have written many, many articles about Stevie, including a massive oral history which led me to interview almost everyone involved with his music. Without that, I might never have chosen a similar format for One Way Out: The Inside History of the Allman Brothers Band.

I was in Austin for the tribute concert brother Jimmie threw, there for two days of rehearsal, which led to me writing this piece for the New Yorker.

I was down there reporting for Guitar World, and my piece on the event was one of the most heartfelt I’ve ever written, and it led to me writing the liner notes for the resulting CD and DVD releases and eventually, also writing an extensive essay for the SRV box set. And that made a Chinese guitarist named Woodie Wu want to meet me, which led to the formation of Woodie Alan, which eventually led to Big in China. That’s a lot of condensing, but it gives you a hint of why Stevie Ray Vaughan has meant so much to me – aside from great musical legacy, which needs little elaboration.

I still feel emotional reading this piece. RIP SRV and thanks for the music.

Originally printed in Guitar World, November 2008

August 26, 1990 – East Troy, Wisconsin

Stevie Ray Vaughan was right where he wanted to be as midnight approached on August 26, 1990. Earlier that evening, he had closed out a triumphant summer tour with Double Trouble, opening for Eric Clapton, one of his heroes, in front of a sold-out crowd of 30,000 at the Alpine Valley Music Theatre, just outside of East Troy, Wisconsin.

Now, as Clapton’s show was drawing to a close, the guitarist called Vaughan back out for a final encore performance of the blues standard “Sweet Home Chicago.” Joining them onstage was the night’s first performer, Robert Cray, along with two more of SRV’s heroes: Buddy Guy and big brother Jimmie Vaughan. Stevie Ray was all smiles as the five guitarists took turns soloing throughout the lengthy jam.

Almost four years after cleaning up and leaving alcohol behind, the Texas guitarist was on top of his game. Family Style, his new album with Jimmie, was in the can, due to be released in another month. The feuds that had separated the brothers were long buried. The show was the second of a two-night stand, and Stevie’s playing was, by all accounts, fiery and fresh. With his favorite guitarists surrounding him, it must have felt to him like the exclamation point on a fantastically productive and happy period of his musical life.

“Those shows were just great fun, really exciting,” recalls bassist Tommy Shannon. “They were sort of the culmination of all the good times we’d been having for the last year or two. And as good as we had been playing, those two shows were just unreal.”

Adds Jimmie Vaughan, “Stevie just smoked. It was one of those gigs where you see someone play and you can’t believe what you’re hearing. Stevie was unreal. He was just on another plane, and we all knew it.”

When the final jam finished to an ecstatic roar at about 12:15 A.M., the musicians left the stage through a rear exit. Backstage, Clapton and Vaughan reportedly talked about paying tribute to Jimi Hendrix with some future gigs. Stevie, 35, was supposed to drive back to Chicago with Jimmie and Jimmie’s wife, Connie, but then he heard that he could hop onto one of Clapton’s four waiting helicopters. He initially thought all three of them could hitch this ride. When he learned that there was only one spot, he asked Jimmie and Connie if they minded if he grabbed it.

“I really want to get back,” he explained.

The Bell 206 B helicopter took off in fog around 12:40 A.M. with Vaughan and four others aboard and almost immediately slammed into the middle of a nearby man-made ski slope, killing all aboard. They were just over half a mile from the venue but no one heard the crash, and a search for the wreckage wasn’t begun until 5 A.M. At around 7, searchers found the bodies of Vaughan, pilot Jeff Brown and three of Clapton’s associates.

“I was woken up by a phone call from our tour manager saying that we had to have a meeting in my room right away,” Shannon recalls. “A few minutes later I got a call from our manager, saying that one of the helicopters had gone down, Stevie was on it, and there were no survivors. In the blink of any eye my life was taken away from me.”

Double Trouble drummer Chris Layton got the news from Shannon. Says Shannon, “I was sitting on the bed crying, and Chris came into my room, asking what was going on. I said, ‘Stevie’s dead,’ and he just lost it, too.”

Adds Layton, “I was in denial and didn’t believe it at all, so I called security and forced them to let me into Stevie’s room. I really thought he’d be laying there sleeping, but when they opened the door, the bed was still made, the pillow turned down, with mints laying on it, and I just realized, My God, it’s true. I felt like a baby, just completely helpless. Then we realized that the news reports said that Stevie and his band were killed, and I realized that I had to get a hold of family and tell them that I’m still alive.”

Clapton and Jimmie Vaughan were called and asked to identify the bodies. Over 1,500 people attended SRV’s memorial service in Dallas. He is buried at Laurel Land Memorial Park in South Dallas.

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RIP Darryl Dawkins

August 27, 2015

Oh no. I’m seeing confirmed reports online that Darryl Dawkins has died at age 58. The Chocolate Thunder – so named by Stevie Wonder! – was one of the great characters in modern sports and one of the first basketball players to go straight to the League from high school. The sad news inspired me to dig […]

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Review of Live at the Fillmore East and West – by Bob Lefsetz

August 18, 2015

Bob Lefsetz writes a music industry newsletter I find consistently interesting and enlightening. I recommend subscribing and checking out his archives here. He reviewed a new book about the Fillmores. I have not read it yet, but am going to buy based on his review, which I present to you here. * “Live at the […]

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Interview with Gregg Allman Band guitarist Scott Sharrard

August 12, 2015

My Gregg Allman Wall Street Journal interview kicked up a lot of dust because of what he said about Dickey Betts: “I would love to play with him again.” You probably already saw all that.  The reason for the interview was Gregg’s excellent new live CD and DVD Gregg Allman Live: Back To Macon, GA CD and Blu-Ray and in talking […]

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Warren Haynes and Railroad Earth plus other friends – DelFest 2011

July 22, 2015

In honor of the release of Ashes & Dust and the fact that I’ll be seeing Warren Haynes and Railroad Earth at New York’s Town Hall, I present to you the 2011 DelFest jam that unofficially launched his Americana kick. This is Warren’s entire 90-minute performance and also features bassist Ron Johnson, my man Ron Holloway and […]

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Warren Haynes announces tour dates with Ashes and Dust Band

July 14, 2015

Warren Haynes has announced a fall tour with his new project, the Ashes & Dust Band. The group, which features drummer Jeff Sipe and string trio ChessBoxer, will kick off its tour in Kansas City on September 22 in support of Haynes’ forthcoming albumAshes & Dust (Feat. Railroad Earth). A couple of those dates will also […]

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James Brown teaches you how to Boogaloo.

July 14, 2015

In case you were wondering how to do the Boogaloo, Camel Walk, Soul Train or Mashed Potatoes, the Godfather of Soul has you covered:

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Gregg Allman – Tuesday’s Gone

July 9, 2015

Gregg Allman performing Tuesday’s Gone at Atlanta’s Fox Theatre, as part of the tribute to Lynyrd Skynyrd, One More For The Fans – available July 24. Amazon.com Widgets

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Fare Thee Well – Grateful Dead say an emotional good bye

July 6, 2015

Last night’s final Fare Thee Well show; the final joint appearance ever by the Grateful Dead’s Core Four of Bob Weir, Phil Lesh, Mickey Hart and Bill Kreutzmann if you take them at their word – began and ended the same way: with a group bow and a huge roar from a giant crowd. It […]

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“Standing On The Moon” – Fare The Well 4th of July (Night 2 Chicago)

July 5, 2015

A little taste of last night’s show, via the official video: Trey singing “Standing on the Moon”. Soldier Field, Chicago, 7-4-15, Second Show.

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