A CHAT WITH JOHN KADLECIK: A SEMINAL PART OF THE GRATEFUL DEAD’S POST-JERRY LEGACY

Talks about playing with Bob Weir, Phil Lesh and co-founding Dark Star Orchestra on Living On Music this Monday on Z-TV

John Kadlecik (photo courtesy Good Foot Media)

When a then-twenty year old, aspiring musician John Kadlecik saw the Grateful Dead in Chicago for the first time in 1989, little did he know that years later, he would become an integral part of the ongoing legendary Grateful Dead legacy, all at a time when tragedy turned to rejuvenation for Dead fans after the 1995 death of Jerry Garcia.

On Z-TV’s Living On Music this Monday night at a special time, 6pm, Kadlecik delves deeply into his stellar Dead-laced career with host Steve Houk, including what it was like playing with the Dead’s Bob Weir and Phil Lesh for five years in the band Furthur, as well as co-founding the penultimate Dead tribute band Dark Star Orchestra, which he left in 2009 to join Weir and Lesh.

Bob Weir (L) and John Kadlecik (courtesy sojaphotography.com)

Kadlecik had been churning along as the co-founder of the globally-revered DSO when he got an email from Bob Weir’s manager saying, simply, “Bob and Phil want to play with you.” In a matter of weeks, he was a member of yet another superb Grateful Dead spinoff machination, with two of the Dead’s longtime primary members.

“It was pretty wild,” Kadlecik says with a humble yet lingering taste of awe. “The band didn’t have a name yet, they were just calling it ‘The Bob and Phil Show,’ that was what all my checks from them said, even up to the last one. It felt like a small…two brothers starting up a new business.”

John Kadlecik, left, and bassist Phil Lesh perform with Furthur at the Greek Theatre.
(Photo by MIGUEL VASCONCELLOS / FOR THE ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER)

From the start, Kadlecik felt like Furthur was clearly going to be something monumentally special, especially considering that the primary focus of his musical life for the previous 12 or 13 years had been recreating the music of the Grateful Dead with DSO. And now he was playing in a band with two staples of the Dead.

“I think the first rehearsals were gonna be August 1st through 4th,” Kadlecik said, “so pretty auspicious there too, having this first jam with Bob and Phil on August 1st…Jerry’s birthday. We had four days of jamming together, I think we launched into ‘Playing In The Band’ and had about a 10-minute jam with it. And I thought it was pretty good at that point.”

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