My friend posed this question to me, "What bands would be worthy to open a Grateful Dead show?" And after much pondering here are a few that I think not only would fit the scene but also would be embraced by the band as well:
  1. Preservation Hall Jazz Band
    While the PHJB has been around longer than the Dead their recent revival has made them more relevant than ever. The traditional New Orleans style jazz that they've been playing for years is exactly the type of sounds needed to get everyone in the mood for a night of dancing. Their horns would be a perfect blend and even open up the opportunity for sit ins later in the night. Plus having a jazz band there gives free reign to use terms like cat, daddio, and boogie.
  2. Wilco
    Love me or hate em, Wilco brings a sound that many Deadheads pine for. No, it's not the 15 minute exploratory jams but their music elicits every emotion imaginable and gives us that Americana feeling that so many classic Dead tunes bring to the table. They're a group of musical chameleons who can fit any mood that's expected of them, which is everything that you want out of an opening band. To top it off they've collaborated with Bob Weir giving them the validation that some fans might need.
  3. Keller Williams (looping performance)
    Keller and the Grateful Dead go hand in hand like [insert joke about white people here]. While there's many different variations of his performance I believe his solo looping project would best fit the opening slot pre-Dead. I first saw him perform this show in 2009 and was memorized the entire time. Not only is the music top notch but watching one person create everything brought the experience to a whole new level. Keller would probably be the best fit on all accounts to open a Dead show.
  4. Karl Denson's Tiny Universe
    If you're looking for an opening band that's going to transition into a night of heaters with the Grateful Dead, look no further than Karl Denson's Tiny Universe. They bring the rock, they bring the funk, they bring everything you need to slap your friend across the face to ensure they're ready for a wild night. KDTU is the musical personification of an adrenaline shot to the heart, if they don't make you move that's because you're already dead.