Dead to the Core: An acoustic celebration of the Grateful Dead

Featuring Erin McKeown, Natalia Zukerman, Anand Nayak, and host Jeffrey Pepper Rodgers with Wendy Ramsay
Friday, May 29, 7:30 p.m.
Troubadour Acoustic Music Series at the Folk Project, Morristown NJ

Dead to the Core is a collective of singer-songwriters and acoustic musicians, led by musician/author Jeffrey Pepper Rodgers, with a shared love of the Grateful Dead. In intimate concerts, the musicians celebrate the band not through note-for-note re-creations but by playing the songs their own way—letting them grow and evolve collaboratively in the true spirit of the Dead.

Interspersed with the music are clips from Rodgers’ own interviews with Jerry Garcia and Bob Weir, in which they reflect on the roots and evolution of the music.

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 of one of America's most original bands. Grateful Dead music right down to the core.

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)

About the performers

Photo by Anastasia Sofronova

Erin McKeown is a musician, writer, and producer known for her prolific disregard of stylistic boundaries. Over the last 20 years, she has performed around the world, released ten full length albums, and written for film, television, and theater, all the while refining her distinctive and challenging mix of American musical forms. Her first musical, Miss You Like Hell, written with Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Quiara Alegría Hudes, opened Off-Broadway at the Public Theater in 2018. It was nominated for five Drama Desk Awards, and the Wall Street Journal named it best musical of 2018.

In several distinctive ways—voice, dynamic subtlety, and sheer songwriting ability—Erin McKeown is in a class of her own. 

Sunday Times (UK)

Natalia Zukerman is a musician, painter, and educator based in Brooklyn, New York. She has toured internationally as a solo performer since 2005, and her music can be heard on the soundtrack of several seasons of The L Word and ABC Family's Chasing Life. She has accompanied and opened for some of acoustic music’s greats such as Janis Ian, Willy Porter, Susan Werner, Erin McKeown, Shawn Colvin, Ani DiFranco, Richard Thompson, Tom Paxton, Garnet Rogers, and many others.

Natalia’s voice could send an orchid into bloom while her guitar playing can open a beer bottle with its teeth.

The New Yorker

Anand Nayak is a Grammy-nominated producer, songwriter, and multi-instrumentalist. He has been the guitarist for folk band Rani Arbo and daisy mayhem since 2000, performing all over North America on stages large and small. He also performs and has toured with Corey Laitman, Jeffrey Foucault, Alasdair Moock, Heather Maloney, and many others.

Anand Nayak is a natural musician, instinctive and inventive.

Jeffrey Foucault

Jeffrey Pepper Rodgers is a grand prize winner of the John Lennon Songwriting Contest and founding editor of Acoustic Guitar magazine, for which he interviewed both Jerry Garcia and Bob Weir. He's also the author of a video series teaching his acoustic arrangements of classic Grateful Dead songs. Joining him is multi-instrumentalist and songwriter Wendy Ramsay, his partner in the duo Pepper and Sassafras.

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