Relix 44: SiriusXM’s Grateful Dead Channel

Dean Budnick on November 26, 2018
Relix 44: SiriusXM’s Grateful Dead Channel

Welcome to the Relix 44. To commemorate the past 44 years of our existence, we’ve created a list of people, places and things that inspire us today, appearing in our September 2018 issue and rolling out on throughout this fall. See all the articles posted so far here

photo credit: Ting Vogel

Tales of Musical Omnivores: SiriusXM’s Grateful Dead Channel

“Being a Deadhead isn’t really an accomplishment, it’s an experience,” Gary Lambert says with a laugh. Lambert, the longtime co-host of the weekly Tales from the Golden Road program on SiriusXM’s Grateful Dead Channel, then adds, “Of course, it’s an experience I love sharing.”

Lambert has been on air since January 2008, when his friend David Gans invited him to join the channel several months after it launched. Over a decade later, the two are still at it, reflecting on all things Grateful Dead (and more), with fellow fans and musicians, including the members of the band.

Gans recalls, “In 2007, I was honored to be invited to consult on the design of a 24/7 Grateful Dead Channel on Sirius Satellite Radio (now SiriusXM). We took a pretty straightforward approach: three complete concerts each day, a ‘this day in history’ feature (hosted by archivist David Lemieux), some ‘roots and branches’ material in the library, and the best of the live and studio recordings. A few months after we went live, the management invited me and Gary Lambert to host a call-in show, which we named Tales from the Golden Road. That has proven to be a very popular feature. And with the recent addition of The Big Steve Hour (featuring longtime Dead roadie Steve Parish), we’ve added even more interaction with our wonderful audience.”

Lambert’s initial connection to the music of the Grateful Dead was serendipitous, like that of many Deadheads. “I first literally stumbled upon them in Central Park on May 5, 1968. I was going to a free concert by Jefferson Airplane and as it turned out the Paul Butterfield Blues Band were opening. The Airplane played, and then they said, ‘Stick around, the Grateful Dead are coming up next.’ That was the one way sign into the rabbit hole for me. I grew up listening to just about all types of music: jazz and roots, 20th century American avant garde, and a lot of great roll-and-roll and folk. I think that’s what made the Grateful Dead so attractive to me. They did not derive from a single source, they were as omnivorous as musicians can be in terms of other influences. When I first heard the Grateful Dead, I said, ‘This is like all the music I’ve ever loved being played at once. It’s been gratifying to see the enduring power of the music.”

Gans affirms, “As Gary and I often say on the air, it’s a pleasure and a privilege to be part of this.”

This article originally appears in the September 2018 issue of Relix. For more features, interviews, album reviews and more, subscribe here