The intersection of hipster and hippie is an interesting case study in musical missed connections. The two genres and cultures flirt with one another, but have yet to fully embrace. In 2009, the Dead and the Allman Brothers played the Gorge . . . a week before Sasquatch! This year, Derek Trucks & Susan Tedeschi play Seattle . . . the day before Sasquatch! Sasquatch! used to be all kinds of hippie (String Cheese, etc.), then it became hipster.
Not two hours after Eric Grandy and I were rapping about this phenomenon yesterday, I read the news that The National--the pinnacle of Starbucks-friendly indie rock--was at work on compiling a tribute to the Grateful Dead. Artists rumored to be involved include The National (natch), Seattle's Fleet Foxes, and Bon Iver.
If this is going to be the time that the two camps finally become one, and a new genre of bands--with both melody and improvisation to spare--emerge, here's what needs to happen:
1. The indie kids have got to jam. If they're going to be included, they need to be able to prove they can both play their instruments and improvise. Don't let them get off the hook with some slow, boring, harmonized version of "Uncle John's Band."
2. The compilation must be at least three discs. Own it.
3. The inclusion of Monsters of Folk is a must. It'll take that many cherry voices and guitar pickers to do "Truckin'" justice in the first place.
4. All bands should be required to perform at least one take on liquid acid (unless The Mars Volta are enlisted. Cedric Bixler-Zavala should be required to do one take sober).
5. Derek Trucks--the fire-wielding guitar wunderkind on the payroll of the Allman Brothers, and a 2011 Grammy winner--must make an appearance on this disc. This should be the occasion when hipster finally meets hippie and melodies the Pitchfork crowd have been churning out are finally wedded to the improvisation and musicianship of the (best parts of the) JamBase crew.
6. As a tribute to the Dead's Bob Weir, if this show hits the road, the rhythm guitarist for each band should be required to perform while wearing a pink Izod shirt with an upturned collar and never-nude denim cutoffs.
7. Seattle's The Long Winters must be involved. The band--featuring Reverb columnist John Roderick--killed it at Sasquatch! 2010 with their rendition of "Touch of Grey." Did anyone else bring the Dead last year? Didn't think so.
8. All bands must be forced (read: honored) to enlist Huey Lewis and his harmonica.
9. Each band must attend a Phil Lesh seminar on the merits of organ donation.
10. All participants on the compilation must join the living members of the Dead in the studio to record a charity single of "The Golden Road (To Unlimited Devotion)."