Terrapin Crossroads: Hold Away Despair


In the months leading up to my move to California, my Facebook feed was inundated with videos from Phil Lesh's Terrapin Crossroads and Bob Weir's TRI Studios.  My friend and bandmate Jason Crosby had moved to NoCal and was in the mix which made it even more exciting to watch all of the goings-on.  Besides good tunes, it was clear something bigger was happening and I was dying to see it in the flesh.  The truth is there is an ocean of Grateful Dead related music happening all across the country that is "bigger" than or at least beyond the band. From the Dead & Co, Phil & Freinds to JRAD and Dark Star Orchestra and on and on and on. As far as I'm concerned the entire Jamband scene (including both of my groups) is largely an extension of the spark The Grateful Dead lit some 50 years ago.  The vibrancy that lives on beyond the band is a testament to the power of the songs, the spirit of those who subscribe to them and the special dudes that made it all happen. One could write an endless stream of articles on each of the musical projects that live in the wake of The Dead and they all would be interesting.  Now that I think about it - people do.  That said there is something unqiue about Terrapin Crossroads and the performances that occur there that's worth exploring.  It's hard to say exactly what makes TXR rise amongst the swell of Dead-related goings on.  For me, a big part of it is that every day of the week a community of musicians gets up on that stage, "dusts off those rusty strings" and in earnest makes them shine again and again.  Hats off to Grahame Lesh, Elliott Peck, Stu Allen, Scott Law, Ross James, Craig MacArthur, Danny Eisenberg, Ezra Lipp, Brian Rashap, Scott Guberman, Alex Koford, Danny Luehring, Jay Lane, Mr Crosby and the long long  list of  talented musicians who along with Phil Lesh himself, fill the air with song.  The community of musicians at TXR is genuinely unique in that it is, in fact, a community. On a personal note they have been so warm and welcoming to me as individuals and as a community and that alone paints TXR in a special light. The other powerful thing for me about Terrapin Crossroads is that The Grateful Dead and all of the musical offshoots represent a spiritual place in one's mind. Terrapin Crossroads is actually a physical place that holds that same emotion.  You can tangibly touch it. It's a tad ironic in that you have to drive through a car dealership parking lot to get to it and while the space is extremely nice and the food is great it's not THE nicest restaurant bar or music hall I've ever been to.  It's also not an over the top shrine to The Dead.  it's just a quirky nook in the industrial flats of San Rafael holds the spark.

Check Out This "Average" Evening  with The Terrapin Family Band @ The Terrapin Crossroads Bar Stage



I wish I could say I'm feeding Terrapin with the vigor and consistency of some of the musicians I mentioned above. My schedule prevents me from doing as much as I would like but I do my best to participate both as a player and a fan whenever I can.  I've participated in a range of shows from one song cameos, mimosa-filled brunch sets, and coveted Grateroom shows. I've also seen a bunch of great music and eaten a shit ton of delicious eggs. When Assembly of Dust was booked to play TXR in April of 2016 I was conscious of the opportunity to bring our music - our emotional space into the physical space that so tangibly holds the spark of The Grateful Dead. And so we made preparations in our spirits, in our setlists, and in the logistics to make sure it was indeed a special night for the musicians and the fans alike and one that was well documented. We played well. It wasn't our best technical performance but it was solid and more to the point it was one of our most genuine performances.  We were emotionally present. For me, it was a top five show because of our musical intent - the chance to reach into the ether and "shake the hand that shook the hand" to  "blesh" with the spirit of The Grateful Dead. Not surprisingly given it's proprietor once stood in front of the infamous Wall of Sound - one thing that is truly physically exceptional about Terrapin is the sound system on stage and off.  The room sounds amazing as a player and a listener. Its also wired for audio and video recording and broadcast. There are moving cameras mounted on the walls and an entire video editing suite tucked behind the mixing board. It struck me as an opportunity to capture a special evening in a special way.  There are 3 permanent camera's at TXR and we brought in another 6. With the help of the Terrapin crew, we recorded a 9 camera HD video shoot and 24 track audio mix. We had successfully captured a high definition moment for our band without knowing exacting what to do with it



As I began thinking about both Conspire To Smile   the concept (music + community = divine) and the related Kickstarter it struck me that this hidden gem of an evening was, without devising already part of the project.  It was a performance in which we truly did conspire to smile, to let the music play the band, to be music and I believe those in attendance felt it. Whats more - it's a damn good HD concert video.  So as you dip your toe into the waters of Assembly of Dust and #ConspireToSmile both of which are effectively artistic ideals built on the shoulders of The Grateful Dead, please consider this performance in the context it was delivered, with the intent it contains and the community it was intended for. The entire show will be released as part of our the Conspire to Smile Kickstarter. You can check out the overview here.   Join me and my friends in a shared convictions to be shockingly positive.


"Althea" Jason Crosby & Friends (Featuring Phil Lesh + Reid Genauer)

On one special evening Jason Crosby invited me to be part of a Jason Crosby and Friends show and Phil Lesh happened to be one of his other friends...  It was gracious of Jason to have me join him given the magnitude of the company he was keeping that evening but he did and its a memory that will live with me until my dying days

Conspire To Smile Folks