For nearly 30 years, The Schwag has kept the spirit of the Grateful Dead alive in concerts all across the Midwest. The St. Louis-based group is one of dozens of bands around the country that pays tribute to the psychedelic rock icons — while also adding a few personal embellishments. Jimmy Tebeau, the band’s lead singer and bass player, describes a Schwag experience as a "musical adventure and journey the band and audience go on together."
However, if you’re not familiar with the Grateful Dead catalog — hundreds of songs across influences including rock, country, funk and even reggae — it can be overwhelming to sit down and start listening. Luckily for you, Vox has put together a primer to get you ready for the upcoming show. According to Tebeau, this special performance marks the 25th anniversary of the band’s first show in Columbia.
If you’re a fan of uplifting rock … try "Touch of Grey"
“Touch of Grey” is the Dead’s biggest commercial hit; it hit No. 9 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart in 1987. Despite its pop melody and rhythm, the track features some strange, melancholy lyrics. Nonetheless, a chorus refrain of "I will get by" is enough to get you jiving.
If you’re a fan of improvisational jazz … try "Playin’ in the Band"
Beneath the band's spacy instrumentation and wavy guitar effects, The Schwag experiments with varying time and key changes to show off its musicianship. Tebeau, who comes from a jazz background, says the fans play a big part in how the band proceeds during an impromptu jam — such as when the group performs this track. "We feed off the energy of the audience and see how people respond to [the song],” Tebeau says. "Every audience is different."
If you’re a fan of folk or bluegrass … try "Cumberland Blues"
Fast-pickin’ guitar licks and rolling piano melodies give "Cumberland Blues" a subtle country color. On the original recording of Workingman’s Dead, the Dead began to experiment with more of an Americana-type sound by using more non-traditional instruments for a rock band — such as a steel guitar or a banjo. Although it might be a tad too trippy for a hoedown, lovers of acoustic Americana should give "Cumberland Blues" a try.
Now that you’re up to speed on Grateful Dead 101, you’re ready for The Schwag at Rose Park. Break out your favorite tie-dye shirt, and get ready for three hours of peace, love and good tunes.