A new limited-edition archival release series that’s modeled very much in the image of the storied Dick's Picks series, which was discontinued in 2005 – six years after its namesake, Dick Latvala, passed away – is being launched by Grateful Dead's current archivist, David Lemieux, who took over for Latvala in September 1999. And now, instead of Dick's Picks, it will be called Dave's Picks.
"Every show by the Dead – whether it was in the Sixties, Seventies, Eighties or Nineties – was a journey," Lemieux tells Rolling Stone. "They weren't writing out setlists before the show, but wherever that show took them was part of a journey that became part of what was special about that show. And one of the great things about the Grateful Dead was that every show was a complete and unique adventure – for them and for us. Here we are 16 years after the Grateful Dead stopped playing and I think one of the best ways to bring people back to that Grateful Dead experience is by presenting this music to them."
Thus, Lemieux says, that unlike some the band's other archival releases, Dave's Picks will primarily consist of entire shows, start to finish. The first such release, scheduled for January 2012, will feature the Dead's complete concert from May 25, 1977 at the Mosque in Richmond, Virginia. Listening to Lemieux talk about it is not unlike hearing a teenager describe the latest X-Box game that they want for Christmas.
"It's one of the best shows from one of the best tours – and it sounds great," he says. "The second set jam is, to me, definitely one of the best of the tour. It's unique, it's inspired and it's incredibly well played. We wanted to kick off the series with a bang, kick it off with something that we know is great – and May '77 is one of those eras, just as Europe '72 is, where there is so much great music."
Dave's Picks will be available both individually and by subscription through the Grateful Dead's official website. Subscribers will get all four quarterly 2012 releases as well as a collectable bonus CD. Each Dave's Picks release will be limited to 12,000 numbered copies.
Of course, the band members themselves will each get copies but, Lemieux says, he doubts they will actually listen to them. "If you look at what they've been doing for the last 16 years and continue to do, it's always something current with their current bands, whether it's Furthur, the Mickey Hart Band, 7 Walkers, Phil and Friends, Ratdog, all of that stuff. They are so focused on what they're doing now, that I don't think listening to a Grateful Dead show from 35 years ago interests them very much."
Fair enough. But it certainly does still interest Deadheads, and Lemieux says that all of the band members remain keenly aware and respectful of that – which is why they've encouraged him to continue the archival work that his predecessor, Dick Latvala, first began before the Grateful Dead disbanded in 1995. "He was as big a Deadhead as I've ever met, in terms of not only his love of the music but also his knowledge of the music," says Lemieux. "A lot of the time, we do ask ourselves 'What would Dick think?'"
With the launch of Dave's Picks comes the end of another much-loved archival series, Road Trips. Above, stream this exclusive track ("The Music Never Stopped") from the final Road Trips release, Vol. 4, No. 5, taken from the Boston Music Hall on June 9, 1976.