By Charlie Englar
The Grateful Dead and Pink Floyd: So similar, yet so different. The landscape of American music – rock and roll in particular – has been forever shaped and molded by these two heavyweights. And while it is safe to say there are many Pink Floyd cover bands out there (and even more groups dedicated to the Grateful Dead), the fusion of the two into one group is an original concept.
Fort Collins band Dead Floyd is that unification. Bringing together four musicians from the local scene, the band was sparked from a “one-off” show at The Vault back in 2009. When listeners demanded more, they continued to play regular shows and expand their repertoire.
Consisting of Josh Miller (bass, vocals), Stu Crair (drums), Matt Goldberg (keyboard) and Charlie Humphreys (guitar, vocals), Dead Floyd is a project that presents seasoned musicians who were familiar with each other before the band took shape. The desire to find another musical outlet weighed heavily on the decision to create the group.
“I had been playing in one of my original bands, The Grippe, for a couple years with Charlie [Humphreys] and was looking for a new avenue to play more music,”drummer Stu Crair explained. “Charlie and I always talked about playing more Dead songs and classic rock, but The Grippe wasn’t really the right band to do it.”
“After kicking it around for a while, I spoke to Josh [Miller], whom had recently moved out here and who I had known from playing music back in Ohio many years before,” Crair continued. “He was looking for a project, and he told me he knew every Floyd song by heart. Josh and I had one jam session and we had a blast. We thought it would be super cool just to focus on the Dead and Floyd and have a show where the music intermixed freely.”
Crair then contacted Goldberg, a bandmate from Musketeer Gripweed, a popular blues revival group. After an initial jam session that turned out to be “a unique experience,” the fellas knew that they had something, and Dead Floyd was born.
The fan turn-out at the “one-off” show at the Vault surprised the band members in such a way that they decided to book another show at the Aggie Theatre. When that exceeded expectations as well, they decided to keep it going.
Presenting music that many find to be “sacred” can be a tricky thing. But the guys in Dead Floyd approach it with the right attitude, asserting themselves as a cover project and not a tribute band. This allows them to present the music of the Grateful Dead and Pink Floyd in a respectful manner, but also lets them put their own spin on things in terms of interpretation and open-ended jams.
“I think it’s natural to feel a little anxiety when presenting any form of music, whether it be covers or originals, keyboardist Matt Goldberg said. “With Dead Floyd, however, it’s easy for me to get in the zone and forget about any nervous feelings I may have. The bigger and more raging the crowd is, the easier it is for me to do that.”
“Charlie knows practically every Dead tune by heart and Josh knows every Floyd tune by heart. They guide the ship in terms of the structure and how to execute the songs. Then, we all throw in our own nuances and personal touches to make it our own,” Crair said.
While Crair says the band has had offers to travel outside the state of Colorado (Alaska and New York have been on the table), the group affirms that they are content playing the Front Range and Colorado mountains for the time being.
October is a good month to catch Dead Floyd in Colorado. The band will play the Aggie Theater on October 22, and will also have a show at the Fox Theatre in Boulder on October 6.
Crair is enthusiastic about Dead Floyd’s upcoming show at the Aggie.
“We are going to tear the roof off with new material, bigger lights, and some surprises. We will be bringing the white hot heat!”
Find out more about the band at deadfloyd.com, and catch them live at the Aggie Theater on October 22.