New Grateful Dead box set showcases renowned B.C. First Nation artist


WATCH: You may not be able to catch them in concert anymore but thanks to their extensive audio archives many of the Grateful Dead’s best shows can still be heard as clearly as if you were there in person. Luisa Alvarez sat down with the band’s longtime archivist from Victoria who tells us about the band’s newest offering and another B.C. connection.

The Grateful Dead played more than 20,000 shows from 1965 to 1995 and in that time, their sounds crews recorded a big bulk of the recorded sets.

“The ‘Dead were one of the first bands if not the first band to have a virtually complete archive,” said the Grateful Dead’s long-time audiovisual archivist and Victoria resident David Lemieux.

Lemieux said the purpose of the recordings was not for the band to commercially release them years later, but instead see was how they improved.

“They recorded their shows specifically so they could go back and listen to these shows and grow and that’s how they did it.”

Luckily for fans, because of those archives, many of the band’s shows can now be relived as if you were there.

Lemieux has played the main part in bringing back that magic.

“That’s what my job is, to focus on finding the very best shows and releasing those and when the ‘Dead were on, whether it was the five-man version of the band  or it was the seven-person, whatever version of the band, it was when that group of people on stage were clicking they were untouchable. You can hear the magic you can really feel it,” said Lemieux.

He’s a huge fan of the band himself having copies of everything he’s ever produced and copies of everything that was produced and released before he began working for them almost twenty years ago.

“I’m a pretty big Deadhead,” said Lemieux.

Lemieux has had a hand in releasing hundreds of box sets. Their most recent box set about to be released “Pacific Northwest 1973 and 1974” chronicles concerts in Vancouver, Portland, and Seattle.

“Last year we did a 1989 box set and 1977, so we’ve done the late 80s and the late 70s. Maybe it was time for something from the early mid-seventies,” said Lemieux.

The artwork on the bentwood box is done by renowned B.C. First Nation artist Roy Henry Vickers. Lemieux said he’s had the idea to release the Pacific Northwest concert collection for years and always had Vickers in mind.

“Authenticity was extremely important in this box set and by having Roy do it, we thought we were really doing honour to the region to the people and the history.”

Luisa AlvarezLuisa Alvarez

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