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Grateful Dead Jam Band audition How to prepare?

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous [BG]' started by pmatz2, Apr 2, 2014.

  1. Thought I'd try something out of my comfort zone and audition for a jam band. Trying to figure out how to prepare for the audition. For example I need to learn friend of the devil. I asked for an example of the version they play. The studio version vs dead set for example are radically different in feel,and tempo. They bass line is pretty different for these 2 versions. Response I got was something in the middle of these 2 versions. I'm not sure how to prepare. Any suggestions? Thanks Paul
  2. lowfreq33


    Jan 27, 2010
    Endorsing Artist: Genz Benz Amplification
    If it's a Dead tribute they're probably heavy on the improv. Learn the general form of the tune and keep your ears open.
  3. Learn the way the song works structure wise and then play it the way it feels in the moment. More importantly, listen to as many versions as possible since no two will be the same. Phil tends to play pretty subdued lines (well, in a relative sense) during the vocals, but all bets are off the rest of the time. Don't try to learn the bass part... The reality is that, aside from some signature riffs, there really is no one bass part.

    Friend of the Devil can be just about any tempo. I'd personally shy away from the two versions you've mentioned and do a search on archive.org for some '77 or '73 versions. It's hard to go wrong with those. Go with the song as it's being played and if you know the chord progression you'll do fine...

    If you get the gig then you'll have a whole lot of studying to do...

    Also... Try and stay away from being locked in with the kick drum exclusively. I like to key off the hats or ride and also play off the rhythm guitar.

    And pay attention to the melody during instrumental sections so that you can do a bit of a countermelody.
  4. How to prepare...with lots of KIND of course..
  5. fhm555

    fhm555 So FOS my eyes are brown Supporting Member

    Feb 16, 2011
    if they asked for Friend of the Devil, I'm betting they are looking to see how you handle the intro from the studio version.

    As for what else to learn, a lot of dead stuff is little more than simple country progressions played with a bit more of a melodic feel so if you have a good feel for country, loosen it up a little and you will have a lot of dead tunes knocked.

    As for the rest of it, immerse yourself into it and soak it up. There is so much material available so just drop listening to everything else and load your music device with dead for a while. Practice what you hear and work on any sig lines til you have them cold.

    Once you get to a comfort zone with the style, it's time to start stretching what you've learned so as to not sound too repetitive should the band decide to make the last set a one or two song exercise.
  6. ggunn


    Aug 30, 2006
    Austin, TX
    Bring enough acid for everyone in the band and anyone who might be listening? :D
  7. As for friend of the devil, they changed the tempo. So it depends on how the bandmates choose to play it. Honestly all you need is the chord progression and follow the drummer. Definitely dont play the same bass line over and over. Focus on chord tones. Some of phil's best riffs are when he doesn't play the root on the down beat, for example he may land on that root during the 3rd or 4th beat of the chord. I am an avid Phil fan so I personally dont know how to style my playing in any other manor, people always tell me I sound like phil (but what do they know?).

    SO... learn the chord progressions and listen to a lot of grateful dead until you have your audition to get a feel for how the band plays and how phil plays. If the other guitarists play like bobby and jerry, you will certainly have it easier as both of them will help fill the space with interesting licks.

    Good luck! i wish i was in a GD cover band.
  8. bThumper38

    bThumper38 brian ebert

    Think of your bass line as a solo.
  9. Deepwoods

    Deepwoods Supporting Member

    Dec 5, 2003
    St. Louis
    When the guitarist goes up the neck you go down and vice versa. Alternate playing on the beat and off. If you play a 5'er drop some bombs or on a four string you can strum a big power chord and get a similar effect. The guys will probably transition from one song into the next during a jam or some space. Know what songs the Dead strung together like Scarlet-Fire etc. Have fun with it and enjoy the ride!
  10. adube810


    Mar 6, 2008
    Brooklyn, NY
  11. Dave Curran

    Dave Curran Lilduke

    Jul 27, 2013
    lol that was my first thought.:bag::bassist:
  12. ggunn


    Aug 30, 2006
    Austin, TX
    Are you a fan of the Dead? Did you go to shows when they were touring? Have you been listening to live recordings of them for decades? If so you'll have a leg up; if not it might be difficult.

    To play Dead material is more about getting into the Zone than it is about learning parts. If you listen to recordings of shows (Dick's Picks, for example) you'll never hear a song played exactly the same way twice.

    Good luck. I am jealous. Sweet Peggy-o…
  13. Chileanrasta


    Apr 6, 2014
  14. get access to lots of dead recordings (archive.org is the best) and listen listen listen!

    (why would you think there is any other answer? ;))
  15. Bassman8416

    Bassman8416 Supporting Member

    Oct 18, 2004
    Long Island,New York
    Listen to a lot of live recordings and practice chord tones with all the inversions.
  16. Thanks to all that responded. The suggestion of a 73-77 version for Friend of the devil was very helpful. I went through a pretty deep GD phase but haven't listened to them a lot in the past couple of years. I enjoy listening to Phil but don't have a strong desire to copy him. However there are some signature licks that make the songs a dead song and I need to learn those. I told them that if they were looking for a Phil clone I wasn't there guy, and they seemed cool with that. It should be interesting.
  17. Most importantly, if you totally face-plant remind them that the Dead were fearless and would totally face-plant on a regular basis. Seriously, it is about context and group improvisation, you could be playing pretty minimally or totally balls out, it just depends on the mood. Follow "Jerry" for intensity queues.
  18. fragernackyl

    fragernackyl Supporting Member

    Nov 17, 2011
    I've been in a Dead cover band for about 3 years now. I always loved Phil, but was more of the Mike Gordon/Phish generation. However, once I totally immersed myself in GD and Phil, I realized that Mike is, in many ways, a student of Phil.

    I love Phil, but also find him frustrating to mimic, which is why he's so revered! I faced an enormous learning curve, but it was a pleasant one as I got to spend a ton of time listening to GD.

    I've been able to reduce it down to just a couple rules I try to remember when playing GD tunes:

    1. Phil's tone is important. I find if use the neck pickup and use a pick near the neck, I can get a nice, vintage, round, Phil-like tone. That seems to help me connect to how to play "sort of" like Phil.

    2. Don't feel the need to "play the bass" as in, don't always play on the beat with big bass notes. Feel free to let the music be open an airy and attempt to melodically float around the structure.

    3. Don't forget, you ain't Phil, you are you and you're your own bass player. Know the music, get comfortable with what you think Phil is doing, but don't forget to just bring what you've got to the songs; you can't go wrong.

    Here is a link to a couple of our performances
    and website:


    Good luck. Have fun!
  19. glocke1


    Apr 30, 2002
    I've been a big fan of Phil for 30 years or so now..

    Take some time and just immerse yourself in some shows and really listen to what he does. There are MANY great shows to check out. Some of my favorites that are available commercially:

    Grateful Dead movie soundtrack (shows from october 1974 at the Winterland Ballroom)
    Dicks Picks 7 (shows from Sept 9-11 1974)

    and this one is good also


    these are just a few of many..
  20. Gravedigger Dav

    Gravedigger Dav Supporting Member

    Mar 13, 2014
    Fort Worth, Texas
    To prepare for a Dead tribute band you will need some coke, a few doobies, and, as previously mentioned, some acid. You will also need some Jack Daniels. And don't forget to take your insulin, you will want to stay healthy.