Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

Local Guitarist Part of Grateful Dead Festivities

Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

Local Guitarist Part of Grateful Dead Festivities

Article excerpt


By day, he's a Bradenton physician. But at night and on the weekends, Alan Gilman plays lead guitar in Uncle John's Band, the region's most famous and longest running group paying tribute to The Grateful Dead. Uncle John's Band has been performing at Skipper's Smokehouse in Tampa on Thursdays since 1998, but had to cancel this week to headline a VIP pre-concert party being held at the Field Museum in Chicago on the same dates that The Grateful Dead plays its 50th anniversary shows at Soldier Field.

These sold-out "Fare Thee Well" concerts, which you can pay to stream online, are advertised as the final performances by the "core four" members who have occasionally played together as The Dead since the 1995 death of lead guitarist and singer Jerry Garcia. Gilman, who first saw The Grateful Dead perform May 9, 1979, in Binghamton, New York, plans to follow each Uncle John's Band performance by attending the historic shows across the street. Here are highlights from Ticket's interview with Gilman.

Q: Have you guys discussed your setlists for these special shows in Chicago and will they differ from, say, a typical Thursday at Skipper's?

A: We prefer keeping things spontaneous for both our listeners and the band members. The only times we have gone with setlists were for commemorative shows. Chicago is a great opportunity for us and given that it will be a first time exposure to many in attendance we would like to give them a good sampling each day of the variety of grooves representing the various styles in the Grateful Dead catalog. In that vein, we will probably have a working list of songs to draw from.

Q: Back when you joined Uncle John's Band in 1993, Garcia was still alive and The Grateful Dead were still touring. Did people think it was strange back then for you to be a part of a Dead tribute band?

A: I don't think people thought it was strange. I had been playing in a Grateful Dead cover band first as a keyboardist and then the lead guitarist in West Virginia for a few years before moving to Florida. I don't think we considered ourselves a tribute band until after Garcia died.

Q: Did it make more sense after The Grateful Dead retired in 1995? …

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