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Dead to the Core

A songwriters' tribute to 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 extraordinary songs that the band wrote and interpreted, 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 a 2017 concert at the legendary Club Passim in Cambridge, Massachusetts, celebrating what would have been the 75th birthday of Jerry Garcia. The magic of that night inspired Rodgers and friends to gather again at Passim on Garcia's birthday in 2018 and 2019, and add shows elsewhere in New England, with an expanding circle of performers that to date has included Leslie Mendelson, Jefferson Hamer, 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 Garcia and Bob Weir themselves also make special appearances in Dead to the Core concerts. Through his work as a music journalist and founding editor of Acoustic Guitar magazine, Rodgers did in-depth interviews with both of the Dead's guitarists and shares short clips during the shows. 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.

Arts Fuse feature on the 2019 Jerry Garcia birthday tribute shows.

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