Mark Karan

On November 25, Thanksgiving Night, The Gilmour Project will ‘serve’ ‘The Dark Slice’ following everyone’s traditional, festive family dinner gathering. Whether you prefer turkey, white meat or dark, or you are vegan - ‘The Dark Slice’ promised to be delicious viewing.

The Gilmour Project was poised and ready to launch in April 2020, then the world hit the pause button. They re-emerge in 2021 pivoting to David Gilmour’s Pink Floyd repertoire. The songs that compel exploration & improvisation are mainly Gilmour’s and this rendition certainly does not dismiss the iconic contributions of all 5 historic musicians that comprise the Pink Floyd complement.

Deborah Grabien was part of the music scene long before she ever recorded a note.  At the age of 15, she was hanging around the Dead’s dressing room at Fillmore East, the guest of her 9-years-older rock journalist sister, who introduced her to Jerry Garcia: “This is my baby sister.” Raising an eyebrow, Garcia replied, “Far out.  Does she have a name?"

Greg Anton (drums) and Scott Guberman (keyboards) met a few years back when Scott relocated to the San Francisco Bay Area. Guberman loves Robert Hunter’s lyrics and reached out to Anton to see if he had any unfinished songs with Hunter lyrics. Anton has co-written 33 songs with Hunter and had a couple that had not been properly recorded, so Anton and Guberman started writing together.

On Sunday, November 3, 2019, Tom Constanten, Grateful Dead keys player from late 1968- early 1970, brought his Live Dead ’69 celebration to the Ardmore Music Hall just outside of Philadelphia.  Comprised of Slick Aguilar (Jefferson Starship/David Crosby Band) and Mark Karan (RatDog/Other Ones) trading spots on lead and rhythm guitar, Robin Sylvester (RatDog) on bass and long-time Dead collaborator Ezra Lipp on drums.&nbsp

And what musical lives they’ve been! Nelson and Cage, both synonymous with many decades of NRPS’ psychedelicized countrified stylings, have entertained concert audiences and home listeners with many, many other bands – Nelson with the David Nelson Band, as well as Old & In the Way, Jerry Garcia Acoustic Band, The Good Old Boys, Dead Ringers, Al Rapone & the Zydeco Express, The Papermill Creek Rounders, and way back in the early 1960s with the Wildwood Boys bluegrass band alongside Jerry Garcia and Robert Hunter. Cage, in addition to his storied career with the NRPS, has delivered his trademark pedal steel guitar articulations with Great Speckled Bird, Stir Fried, Solar Circus, The Brooklyn Cowboys, Terry & the Pirates, and on substantial studio work with Bob Dylan and Anne Murray.

In the past few years since Fare Thee Well, as Grateful Dead music has morphed into its own genre, what bands play and how they play it has become an interesting series of choices.  Do they want to play it straight, or do they want to interpret it through a filter (heavy metal, Celtic, Bluegrass, Hawaiian slack key guitar, etc.)?  Do they want to emphasize the material the band played when they first became Dead Heads, or do they want to sample around?  Good argument-starter:  Is the best year 1972, or 1977, or 1989?  Or fill in the blank...

The strangest thing happened; Grateful Dead music became its own genre, a language spoken by musicians across the country (and danced to by Dead Heads, same).  Each band plays it its own way, but Live Dead ’69 has certain advantages.

“'Tis I, the intrepid traveller, come to lead his merry band of pranksters across the nation, in the reverse order of the pioneers! And our motto will be 'the obliteration of the entire nation' ... not taken literally of course, we won’t blow up their buildings, we’ll blow their minds!"

The Grateful Web’s John Schumm recently sat down with RatDog guitarist Mark Karan, currently touring with Terrapin Flyer and Melvin Seals. Mark speaks about being embraced by the Grateful Dead community, touring with Terrapin Flyer, the upcoming RatDog tour, his battle with throat cancer, his solo career, and so much more.

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