Eric Johnson of The Fruit Bats carries a torch for The Grateful Dead

Eric Johnson and The Grateful Dead

Eric Johnson (photo: Alissa Anderson) and The Grateful Dead

Eric Johnson’s recommendation: “There are few bands as polarizing as this one. Having lived in the indie rock world for the last fifteen years or so, I can recall more than one occasion where a proclamation of my Dead fanhood caused someone to look at me like I was a criminal. Or worse yet, a dirty hippie. I think the general rift was created somewhere in the post-post punk era. I mean, even Greg Ginn and The Ramones were Deadheads. But, anyway, I digress… I think the impassioned and sometimes misguided Deadhead universe is the turnoff for many. The music itself is generally great – the catalog is dense, and if you include the myriad of bootlegs that have been circulating for decades, it can be pretty daunting.”

New to The Grateful Dead? Eric says… “Here are the gateway drugs to the Dead – I once turned a naysayer onto the Grateful Dead by sneakily putting on their self titled 1967 debut. He thought it ruled, and then was pissed when I told him who it was. Then he went out and bought it. It’s a fairly simple slice of San Francisco psych-y nuggets, and if you’re into acid soaked heaviness and hairpin turn chord changes, you’ll probably dig it. Even if you hate the smell of patchouli. American Beauty would be the other choice – one of the truly indispensable masterpieces of west coast country rock. The series finale of “Freaks and Geeks” used two choice cuts off of that disc, a fine musical television moment.”

Eric’s Grateful Dead video pick:

Eric JohnsonAbout the guest author, Eric Johnson: You may know Eric Johnson as a contributing member to The Shins and Vetiver, but his most steady gig has been as the lead force behind The Fruit Bats. If the adjectives ‘rootsy,’ ‘folksy,’ and ‘damn good’ are requirements your music purchases, then the Fruit Bats are most definitely for you. Their Myspace page will help you find out where they are playing live and the clip below, Ruminant Band, will help you realize that their last album of the same title needs to have a spot in your collection.

MP3: Ruminant Band by The Fruit Bats