Lesh On Tour But Off The Road

Former Grateful Dead bassist Phil Lesh has worked out a novel approach to keeping his touring career alive without exactly touring.

Photo: Jay Blakesberg
Gathering Of The Vibes, Seaside Park, Bridgeport, Conn.

And it’s a solution that possibly could only work in the parallel Deadhead universe. He’s worked out a deal with Peter Shapiro – a bit of a Deadhead himself – who owns the Capitol Theatre in Port Chester, N.Y. – to perform at least 30 concerts beginning in April at the venue, which holds an exalted spot in Deadhead lore.

Lesh will perform at least one show at Brooklyn Bowl in New York City and next year’s , both also owned by Shapiro.

A Las Vegas outpost of Brooklyn Bowl will host a show, but the only non-Shapiro-owned venue that will see a Lesh gig next year will be the bassist’s own Terrapin Crossroads in San Rafael, Calif.

“I’m done with one-nighters,” Lesh explained to the New York Times. “I’ve been on the road now for 46 years, and I’ve gotten to a point where I’m jealous of all the time that I waste on buses and sitting around waiting to go on.”

At least Lesh will feel at home at the 2,000-capacity Capitol.

Shapiro reopened the converted movie palace last year after pouring a reported $2 million into making it what the Times calls “a Deadhead paradise.”

And it has a history for Lesh and his erstwhile Grateful Dead bandmates, who played a historic run of 18 shows there from 1970-71.

For his part, Shapiro reportedly will be able to control ticket sales, merch and recorded music rights from the concerts – no small business, considering the large community of completists in the Deadhead universe.

There are also plans for special fan offerings such as a “Bowling with Phil” VIP experience at Brooklyn Bowl.

So while Lesh is getting off the bus, he’s not completely walking away from that golden road.

“I’m not retiring, and I’m not slowing down,” Lesh told the Times. “I’m pretty sure I want to make music till I can’t breathe anymore. I just want to do it within the most focused possible way. The future looks really exciting.”