Review: A Dead tribute album that sounds good and does good

By Brent Thompson

With its large volume of songs and improvisational possibilities, the Grateful Dead’s catalog is always up for interpretation by other artists. The latest installment, the 17-track Grateful: The Music Plays the Band, offers both a musical and charitable component. The album’s proceeds benefit The Grateful Guitars Foundation, a nonprofit organization that obtains instruments for musicians and supports music education in schools. Musically, the lineup includes artists familiar to Deadheads (Oteil Burbridge, Dark Star Orchestra, Jerry’s Middle Finger, John Kadlecik) as well as some that deserve greater exposure (Katie Skene & Andrea Whitt, Doom Flamingo, Michael James Wheeler). Burbrige’s impassioned “Stella Blue” is a highlight as are Skene & Whitt’s “Candyman” and Kadlecik’s “So Many Roads.” All in all, the Grateful compilation rises to the challenge of any tribute album – allowing artists to place their own unique stamps on some well-known songs.