Truckin’ To The Symphony

Dig out that tie-dyed tux. The Baltimore Symphony Orchestra will delve into the psychedelic world of The Grateful Dead on what would have been Jerry Garcia’s 66th birthday.

The BSO will perform the world premier of Lee Johnson’s "Dead Symphony No. 6" August 1 at the city’s Joseph Meyerhoff Symphony Hall.

The symphony, more than ten years in the making, is the first orchestral tribute to The Grateful Dead ever composed.

For the performance, the lobby of the symphony hall will be transformed into a counterculture museum featuring Dead and other rock ‘n’ roll memorabilia from the ’60s and ’70s.

Rare Dead photographs by Baltimore native Amalie Rothschild, house photographer for New York City’s Fillmore East, will also be auctioned online and in the lobby the night of the performance with all proceeds benefiting the BSO.

Tickets range from $20 to $60 and are available at

Work on "Dead Symphony No. 6" began shortly after Garcia’s death in 1995 when producer and Deadhead Mike Adams contacted Johnson with the idea for the piece.

"I wasn’t a Deadhead at the time, so I had to start at the beginning," Johnson said. "I bought everything the Dead had published and became a student of their art. I would finish a movement or two and gather up those that loved The Grateful Dead and see what happened when I played it for them.

"Their honest reactions told me everything. Tears, smiles, closed eyes and sometimes dancing. Any new movement that didn’t create a genuine vibe in the listening room went away for good."

The symphony dedicates separate movements to Dead hits "Saint Stephen," "Here Comes Sunshine," "Mountains of the Moon," "Blues for Allah," "Sugar Magnolia," "To Lay Me Down," "If I Had the World to Give," "Bird Songs," "China Doll," and "Stella Blue," which includes a symphonic jam session.

In 2007, the Russian National Orchestra recorded and released "Dead Symphony No. 6." The BSO performance marks the first time the piece has been played live.