Santa Cruz Good Times

Saturday
Oct 25th
Text size
  • Increase font size
  • Default font size
  • Decrease font size

Dead is Alive

ae dead1UC Santa Cruz’s Grateful Dead Archive finally opens to the public

It might be a slight exaggeration to say, “in the beginning was the Grateful Dead and post-modern culture flowed forth from that mighty stream”—but, the band’s new archive at UC Santa Cruz makes a compelling case.

The exhibit, entitled “A Box of Rain: Archiving the Grateful Dead Phenomena”—which officially opens to the public on June 29—features a wide variety of Grateful Dead memorabilia, and is housed at Dead Central: a 1,400-square-foot space inside the McHenry Library at UCSC.

 

Archivist Nicholas Meriwether, the silver-haired gentleman who oversees the ambitious project, has streamlined the ragged adventures of the Bay Area rock band into one exciting, cohesive visual experience. Meriwether contributed all of the graphics, and designed the layout and typesetting for the exhibition himself.

The purpose of the exhibit is twofold: to tell the story of the archive and how it came to be, and to tell the tale of the band with associated cultural and historical phenomena. The ways in which the two stories intersect and interact is up to archive visitors to discover. The memorabilia housed inside the glass room has the charm, power and mystery to captivate fans, scholars and the curious.

One such display features one of the band’s guitars, which was used by a Stanford physicist interested in acoustics. “It documents the fact that academic rigor and scholarly study have been associated with the band since 1966,” says Meriwether. Another case contains volumes of fan zines created by Deadheads and other publications that came directly from the band. “And this makes the point that immediately the band consisted of  more than just people performing on stage for a static audience—it’s a great big participatory ritual,” Meriwether adds.

ae GratefulDead2In another exhibit, a note that was handwritten in 1962 by Jerry Garcia to one of his guitar students, is also on display. “This was before he was in Mother McCree’s Uptown Jug Champions, which is the band that preceded the Warlocks, which preceded the Grateful Dead,” explains Meriwether. The note is one example of the tablatures that Garcia would scribble down at the end of each class, in order to break down his students’ favorite songs into chords they could practice at home. “I think this is something that is often overlooked—Jerry and the rest of the band were really fine teachers,” says the archivist. “They were good teachers in the sense that they made it clear they were students themselves.”

Aside from their roles as educators, Meriwether hopes that the archive will shed light on the band’s important role in American culture overall. “One of the things I needed to do is reassure skeptics of the band’s enduring significance,” he says.

The archive chronicles everything from the band’s early involvement with the Palo Alto art scene of the late 1950s, to The Acid Tests, to Woodstock. There are plenty of novelties for the entertainment of Deadheads, including the actual long wooden table the band used for meetings—but, the devil is in the details.

Within one glass case there are five PhD dissertations in a variety of fields, 27 master’s degree theses, and more than 50 peer-reviewed scholarly articles. But, when asked what aspect of the archive excites him most, Meriwether pointed to the eye-popping graphics that seem to beckon the viewer. “What other academics get to actually commission such wonderful posters to document their gatherings?” he asks with a smile. 

The public opening of the Grateful Dead Archive will take place from 1-4 p.m. on Friday, June 29, at UCSC’s McHenry Library, 1156 High St., Santa Cruz. No cover.

Photo1: Jim Marshall / Photo 2: MaryAnn Mayer

Comments (3)Add Comment
...
written by GT, July 02, 2012
Tom, you can find the hours for the archive and more info at the following link:
http://library.ucsc.edu/grateful-dead-archive/visit
...
written by Tom Clark, July 01, 2012
What are the regular hours they are open to the public?
...
written by This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it , June 26, 2012
daggnabbit!! I thought it was today and here I am all broken hearted...

Write comment
smaller | bigger

busy
 

Share this on your social networks

Bookmark and Share

Share this

Bookmark and Share

 

Santa Cruz Restaurant Week

A huge part of Santa Cruz Restaurant Week has always been about offering a great dining experience for an affordable price. For some locals, the $25 flat-rate cost has provided the opportunity (or the excuse!) to try new spots, and indulge in Santa Cruz fine dining in a way they might have thought too pricey before.

 

Scorpio Sun, New Moon Eclipse, Mercury Direct

The Sun enters Scorpio’s mysteries Thursday under a new moon and partial solar eclipse (something essential has come to an end, its purpose completed). In Scorpio we harbor secrets, are devoted to something deep, dark and hidden. Sometimes it’s ourselves. We can bring great suspect to our assessment of others. Scorpio is the scorpion, the serpent and the eagle—three levels of development. As the serpent we take shelter in our beliefs. Sometimes we bite (or sting). The eagle vanquishes old beliefs through its sharp intellect, soaring high in the air, seeking to understand through perspective. Understanding releases us from the bondage of fear. The eagle is like the mother soothing feelings of mistrust, offering protection. Knowledge does this, too.

 

The New Tech Nexus

Community leaders in science and technology unite to form web-based networking program

 

Light Humor

College comedy questions a post-racial America in ‘Dear White People’
Sign up for Good Times weekly newsletter
Get the latest news, events

RSS Feed Burner

 Subscribe in a reader

Latest Comments

 

Back Porch

Austin Kaye on backyard dinners and why it’s his favorite time of year to be a chef

 

What’s the most outrageous situation you ever saw at a restaurant?

Damani Thomas, Santa Cruz, Chef/Owner

 

Wine Lust

The Spanish Godello grape, plus arancinis, tender butter lettuce and pork schnitzel at Soif

 

What artist or artists participating in the encore weekend of Open Studios should not be missed?

Santa Cruz | Teacher