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Centre professor puts on Grateful Dead show Friday with help from tribute band

By SALLIE BRIGHT

Contributing writer

“Deadheads” in the area will have a chance to revel in Grateful Dead music when a Centre College professor and several members of the tribute band Born Cross-Eyed give a concert this Friday at The Still at Ambrabev, a bar and restaurant.

Larry Bitensky, W. George Matton Professor of Music at Centre, is teaching a class this term about the iconic rock band. Why a class on one band? Bitensky explains:

“The Grateful Dead were a musical and cultural institution unlike any seen in American history. For 30 years they ignored virtually all the conventions of popular music success — they rarely had any radio hits, they let people illegally tape their concerts, they were devoted to life on the road and live shows, and their live performances were completely lacking in spectacle. Yet, their dedication to incredible and sophisticated songwriting, unparalleled heights of rock improvisation, and an alternative lifestyle inspired countless people to join their traveling circus and become ‘deadheads.’”

In the 24 years since Jerry Garcia died and the Dead broke up, the spirit has lived on in many ways, he adds. In Lexington, the tribute band Born Cross-Eyed has been performing the music of the Dead since before Garcia’s death.

Bitensky plays with several members of Born Cross-Eyed for Grateful Sunday evenings where they play music of the Grateful Dead and the Jerry Garcia Band.

The members of his class will be at Friday’s concert because, “Short of going back in time, this is the only way people can come close to experiencing a Grateful Dead concert.”

Bitensky proudly admits to being a deadhead, since in his younger days he followed the band, quite literally, attending more than 100 concerts along the east coast and beyond.

The band will include: Jenny Adkins, vocals; Bitensky, keyboards/vocals; Brandon Bowlds, bass/vocals; JP Nowack, drums; and Lee Owen, guitar/vocals.

IF YOU GO

Larry Bitensky and members of Born Cross-Eyed will play 8:30 p.m. Friday at The Still at Ambrabev, 522 Techwood Drive.