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Dead to the Core

An acoustic celebration of the Grateful Dead

Dead to the Core is a collective of singer-songwriters and acoustic musicians with a shared love of the music of the Grateful Dead. In intimate concerts, they pay tribute to the band's songwriting legacy, not through note-for-note re-creations of particular performances or studio tracks but by playing the music their own way—letting the songs grow and evolve collaboratively in the true spirit of the Dead.

Jerry Garcia 75th birthday tribute, Club Passim
Jerry Garcia 75th birthday tribute at Boston's Club Passim, with Ryan Fitzsimmons, Greg Klyma, Wendy Ramsay, Spotted Tiger, and Celia Woodsmith. Photo by Dan Tappan.

Led by songwriter, guitarist, and author Jeffrey Pepper Rodgers, Dead to the Core grew out of the Jerry Garcia birthday tributes that Rodgers has hosted at the legendary Club Passim in Cambridge, Massachusetts, since 2017. To date, performers at these collaborative shows have included have included Leslie Mendelson (who has recorded duets with Bob Weir and Jackson Browne), Jefferson Hamer (Session Americana, Anaïs Mitchell), Hayley Jane, David Surette and Steve Roy, Ryan Fitzsimmons, Laurence Scudder, Jim Larkin, Spotted Tiger, Celia Woodsmith, Wendy Ramsay, and Greg Klyma. The 2018 show at Passim even featured a very special guest: Garcia's own iconic Wolf guitar, which the artists played during the finale.

Hayley Jane sings "Crazy Fingers" with Jeffrey Pepper Rodgers playing Jerry Garcia's Wolf guitar, Club Passim, 8/1/18. Photo by Dan Tappan.

The voices of Jerry Garcia and Bob Weir themselves also make special appearances in Dead to the Core concerts. Rodgers, a music journalist and founding editor of Acoustic Guitar magazine, shares clips from his interviews with both Grateful Dead guitarists, in which they reflect on the roots and evolution of the music.

Rodgers is also author of a Homespun video series teaching classic Dead songs for acoustic guitar and often teaches workshops in conjunction with concerts.

Jeffrey Pepper Rodgers sure can play the music—listen to his 'Stella Blue’ and you'll know what I mean. Better still, he can teach it.

Dennis McNally, author, A Long Strange Trip: The Inside History of the Grateful Dead

A Dead to the Core show is an experience unlike any other Grateful Dead tribute: a night of deeply personal performances that illuminate the masterful song craft and storytelling of one of America's most original bands. Grateful Dead music right down to the core.

Stay tuned for Dead to the Core happenings in 2020, including 50th anniversary celebrations of the landmark albums Workingman's Dead and American Beauty.


Boston Globe feature on JPR's Grateful Dead guitar workshops.

Rodgers doesn’t tap the legion of dedicated Grateful Dead tribute artists for these concerts…. Instead, he seeks out songwriters and musicians who have developed their own voices and styles, though they are very much inspired by—and fans of—Garcia and the Dead.

Arts Fuse (read the full story)

Seacoast Online (Portsmouth, New Hampshire) interview

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