Drums & Space | July 16th | Dead & Company | San Francisco


The outside world fades into the background as the sound overwhelms your senses and you begin to feel the rush of adrenaline that is being pumped through your body.  It works its way from the lower regions, the lower chakras, rising majestically up the spine from your center to the third eye. It is warm and tingles.  It feels very good, like home, like love does. A very good feeling, it resounds throughout the body, it captures your imagination, and puts a lock on you, a hold on the outside world.  Now in this space we find the moment. Your entire body is vibrating in some sympathetic way, a resonance, everything beating together, in rhythm, in sync, in time with your own clock, you are entrained, entranced, in time.  The body loves this feeling, you hold the feeling now, and relax and breathe. Now you want to go deeper, make more, feel even better, you want to take this groove further.  Don’t lose the feeling, not too fast, let the feeling take you, guide you.  It is not unlike a tractor bream, pulling on you, relentless, deeper, more.  The blood begins to boil; the heat begins in the body.  From the lower regions it swells, you can taste it in your mouth, on the roof of the mouth, in the lower throat.  It wraps the body in a warm friendly blanket and says, yes, yes, yes, yes…

There is just hearing a performance, and then there are sound experiences so powerful that they take you somewhere special. It takes the complete sonic spectrum, big and bold as life to deliver immersive clarity to the full range of human performance. And it takes a delivery system like no other to achieve a deep listening experience, a sonic portal between the artist and the audience.  It takes Meyer technology to electrify the sound with accuracy and integrity, from shimmering ultra-highs to the deepest octave, crafted not only to make you dance or listen to the symphony but to uplift the human experience.  Then it goes beyond just sound.


My close friend Tom Paddock, who very sadly passed recently, was the mastermind behind The Beam, creating a moveable pickup block which captures a wide variety of tonal variations and frequencies ranging from extremely low to high tones. The Beam is a large (8 foot in  length) aluminum  I beam (actually a “C” shaped beam facing down  with  the  strings  across the flat outside top  surface) strung with 13 bass piano strings all tuned to the note of D (a Pythagorean monochord at various octaves). The Beam has a heavy duty bridge and string anchor at one end and a nut with tuning hardware at the other end. It has a movable magnetic pickup block to facilitate capture and transmission of various tonal qualities. The pickup block feeds a volume pedal and various audio effects units, which route the signals through an amplifier or sound system. The Beam generates a large variety of low frequency primary tones and harmonic overtones, and is played by hitting the strings with a percussion mallet, plucking the strings by hand and or with a plectrum, scraping them with various implements (fingernails, plectrums, metal bars), or by pounding on The Beam frame itself to induce a bell-like resonance of all the strings simultaneously. It was designed when Francis Ford Coppola asked me to create the percussion soundtrack for Apocalypse Now, and I have used it in various forms and sizes ever since.

Click here to learn more about Tom Paddock & Sound Research

Click here to learn all about The Beam


Ram Rod was a rock, he never made a mistake twice. He had the most care for my equipment and for the Grateful Dead and the music. He went from reform school to the President of GDP which was quite a leap. I loved Ram Rod like a brother, he was part of the band, like the fifth Beatle. He was extremely humble and didn’t speak very much… but when he spoke everyone listened. He had a backbone, true grit. He spoke the truth when others waffled or didn’t address the real issue.

Ram Rod was always able to state what the truth was, which become one of his most enduring qualities in the GD. Fearless. One incident stands out among the rest. Janis and the GD were playing outside in San Jose in 1968. Behind the curtain was all the equipment, road cases, etc. Just as the band was beginning St Stephen, I heard a huge 12 gauge shotgun blast from behind the curtain. At first I thought the equipment guys were just having fun, but in reality one of my starter cannons that Ram Rod would place at my feet during St Stephen (“one man gathers what another man spills”) went off and lit Ram Rod on fire. Hair, face, eyebrows all completely unbeknownst to me. When he placed the cannons at my feet, I could smell his hair and flesh burning and I could tell he was on fire, but he was still on the job placing the cannons. I looked down and told him he was on fire and tried to put his hair fire out. I said to him at that time- “that’s the end of cannons”. Now that’s bringing dedication to an art form! I loved Ram Rod and miss him every day.