Barack Obama Selects the Dead for Inaugural Ball: "It Was Quite an Honor"

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Just a week after confirming their first tour in five years, the reunited Dead are booked to rock the Mid-Atlantic Inaugural Ball in Washington, D.C. on January 20th. "A DJ will open up — it's a long, strange trip!," Mickey Hart jokes to Rolling Stone (the DJ in question is celeb spinner DJ Cassidy). "[Barack Obama] picked us specifically," he adds, "so it was quite an honor. There was a short list and we made the cut." (For a peek into the President-Elect's iPod, click here.)

As for the most important question — can the band jam at the ball? — Hart is dubious: "It's pretty tight, about an hour set. When you play these kinds of things you say, 'How can I be of service?' The entertainment committee makes it so that it fits into their huge schedule."

Another pitfall of political rocking: a background check. "It gave me pause when I had to get a security clearance to play a gig!" Hart says. So did they get past the security scan? "Oh, yeah, we don't look so bad on paper. It's not as bad as you might think."

The Dead partially reunited for a Deadheads for Obama gig in spring 2007, and drummer Bill Kreutzmann rejoined the group for a "Change Rocks" Obama fundraiser at Penn State in October. The tour that kicks off April 12th in Greensboro, North Carolina, features founding members Phil Lesh, Bob Weir as well as Hart and Kreutzmann, joined by keyboardist Jeff Chimenti and Allman Brothers Band/Gov't Mule guitarist Warren Haynes.

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