Skip to main content

Reckoning's Fresh Spin on Dead Grass

08/21/2015 08:43AM ● Published by Melissa Mendonca

On the Road Again

September 2015
By Melissa Mendonca
Photos: Michelle Hickok

"When a band hits a groove and the audience is in the groove at the same time, there’s a universal vibe that fills the place and it’s very special,” says Mark Wilpolt, mandolin player for Chico’s Reckoning band. “And it’s what we’re all seeking.”

About five years ago, Wilpolt and friends set about seeking that universal vibe by combining the lyrics of revered groove bands the Grateful Dead and Jerry Garcia Band with the musical stylings of bluegrass. The fusion is what they refer to as Dead Grass, and it’s attracting Dead Heads and traditional bluegrass fans alike.

“It’s fun to do because we’re trying to do what we believe are fresh interpretations of the songs. We’re trying to grass it up,” says Wilpolt.

“It started out just as a lark,” he adds. “I had an opportunity to play at a crafts fair and I said we were just going to play acoustic. And not only that, we were just going to play songs from the ‘Reckoning’ album.”

“Reckoning” is the double live album released in 1981 by the Grateful Dead that includes acoustic versions of some original fan favorites as well as standards from the traditional American songbook, such as El Paso and Tom Dooley. “They’re all songs we have played around  the campfire,” says guitarist Campbell Church.

Church and Wilpolt were once neighbors and note that other band members – bass player Paul Friedlander and banjo/guitar player Lloyd Foote – are all connected through teaching careers. Friedlander just retired from Chico State University, where Wilpolt still teaches math. Foote, who played in the 8th Avenue String Band, is a retired English teacher from Paradise. Church is active in his daughters’ education at Wildflower Open Classroom, noting, “I have three daughters and have been charged with driving them around and keeping them fed.

“We’ve all been kicking it around Chico enough to have seen each others’ bands,” sums up Wilpolt. “The 8th Avenue String Band was one of my favorite bands back in the day so it’s an honor and a privilege to be playing with Lloyd.”

The concept of the dead grass sound goes back to the 1975 release of “Old and In the Way,” a bluegrass debut album by a group of the same name, which included Jerry Garcia and David Grisman. “‘Old and In the Way’ introduced bluegrass to a whole generation of hippies,one of which was me,” says Wilpolt.

Today, the band marvels at the diversity of people attending their shows. “There are many people that don’t even know we’re a Grateful Dead cover band and they’ll come up to us and tell us, ‘Those are really great songs,’ and they don’t even know the Grateful Dead songs,” he adds.

While he’ll freely refer to himself as a hippie, he’s quick to note, “This stuff is not old hippie music. We find that people find that these are great songs that stand on their own and deserve to be heard. And it’s great music to move your feet to. This is good old American music in every possible way.”

With the mellow confidence of a long-time fan, Church adds, “Grateful Dead music never goes away. You can kind of get tired of it for awhile, but no one ever says that they don’t really like it anymore.”

After a successful series of summer 2013 shows in the North State on the True North Tour, more and more people are enjoying this fused sound. “Those were amongst our most memorable shows, playing in those small towns,” says Wilpolt. Organized by the arts councils of each community, the band played Chico, Red Bluff, Weaverville and Redding.

Now, the band is on to venues such as the Ashkenaz in Berkeley and the city’s Shakedown Street Festival. As for the future, Church is keen to play “more of those memorable shows.” He sees the band learning more songs and reveling in “the feeling you get when those songs come together, when you get those songs right.” He recalls the wonder of that feeling when, at the Chico World Music Festival, “We were joined in the middle of a song by Joe Craven, who came on stage playing his fiddle. I heard him before I saw him.”

Lately, the band has been sharing gigs with Wake of the Dead, a Chico-based Grateful Dead cover band. “ I see music as a community-oriented thing,” says Wilpolt, “My ambition is to provide fun for people and to hopefully provide an opportunity to shake their booty a little bit.”

Reckoning concert at the State Theatre with
Wake of the Dead
October 10 • 7:30 PM
www.reckoningdeadgrass.com

In Print
  • Football Season Is Here!

    01/22/2018
    09:30AM

    NFL Ticket. Sunday all day starting 930am with breakfast! Mon night Football. Thursday night S...


  • Football Season Is Here!

    01/23/2018
    09:30AM

    NFL Ticket. Sunday all day starting 930am with breakfast! Mon night Football. Thursday night S...


  • Football Season Is Here!

    01/25/2018
    09:30AM

    NFL Ticket. Sunday all day starting 930am with breakfast! Mon night Football. Thursday night S...


  • Football Season Is Here!

    01/26/2018
    09:30AM

    NFL Ticket. Sunday all day starting 930am with breakfast! Mon night Football. Thursday night S...


  • Cottonwood Community Library Book Sale

    01/26/2018
    11:00AM — 02:00PM

    A book sale to benefit the Cottonwood Community Library will be held on Friday, January 26 and Sa...


  • Redding Cultural Cruise - Day I

    01/26/2018
    04:00PM — 08:30PM

    Redding Cultural Cruise is just around the corner, coming Friday, January 26! Participate in t...


  • Wildcard Brewing Co. Foodie Friday

    01/26/2018
    05:00PM — 08:00PM

    On Fridays from 5pm-8pm, we bring you the best of both worlds: a frothy pint and a flavorful plat...


  • Sleeping Beauty

    01/26/2018
    07:00PM — 08:30AM

    RSA Theater Booster Club is a Non-Profit organization. It is our mission is to teach our middle ...


  • Redding International Folk Dancers

    01/26/2018
    07:00PM — 10:00PM

    Folk dance is for everyone and for all ages! Our motto is: If you can walk you can dance. We meet...


  • Football Season Is Here!

    01/27/2018
    09:30AM

    NFL Ticket. Sunday all day starting 930am with breakfast! Mon night Football. Thursday night S...


  • Cottonwood Community Library Book Sale

    01/27/2018
    11:00AM — 02:00PM

    A book sale to benefit the Cottonwood Community Library will be held on Friday, January 26 and Sa...


  • Redding Cultural Cruise - Day II

    01/27/2018
    11:00AM — 03:00PM

    Join us SATURDAY, JANUARY 27 for Day II of Redding Cultural Cruise! Visit a number of Redding ven...


  • Wildcard Brewing Company's Brewhouse Tour

    01/27/2018
    04:30PM — 05:00PM

    Want to know more about what goes on behind the scenes at Wildcard? Join us for a tour. This is y...


  • Sleeping Beauty

    01/27/2018
    07:00PM — 08:30AM

    RSA Theater Booster Club is a Non-Profit organization. It is our mission is to teach our middle ...


  • Redding Community Contra Dance

    01/27/2018
    07:00PM — 10:00PM

    What is contra? Contra dance is the American cousin to Scottish and English Country set dances. I...


  • Football Season Is Here!

    01/28/2018
    09:30AM

    NFL Ticket. Sunday all day starting 930am with breakfast! Mon night Football. Thursday night S...


  • Conductor and saxophonist Scott Seaton welcomes Terrie Baune (violin) and John Chernoff (piano) f...


  • North State Symphony

    01/28/2018
    02:00PM

    In this more intimate concert, Maestro Scott Seaton on his saxophone joins Concertmaster Terrie B...


  • Football Season Is Here!

    01/22/2018
    09:30AM

    NFL Ticket. Sunday all day starting 930am with breakfast! Mon night Football. Thursday night S...


  • Football Season Is Here!

    01/23/2018
    09:30AM

    NFL Ticket. Sunday all day starting 930am with breakfast! Mon night Football. Thursday night S...


  • Football Season Is Here!

    01/24/2018
    09:30AM

    NFL Ticket. Sunday all day starting 930am with breakfast! Mon night Football. Thursday night S...


  • Wildcard Brewing Company's Midweek Madness

    01/24/2018
    02:00PM — 08:00PM

    Visit either Wildcard location on Wednesdays and get $3 off a growler fill! Come by the brewery a...


  • Football Season Is Here!

    01/25/2018
    09:30AM

    NFL Ticket. Sunday all day starting 930am with breakfast! Mon night Football. Thursday night S...


  • Football Season Is Here!

    01/26/2018
    09:30AM

    NFL Ticket. Sunday all day starting 930am with breakfast! Mon night Football. Thursday night S...


  • Cottonwood Community Library Book Sale

    01/26/2018
    11:00AM — 02:00PM

    A book sale to benefit the Cottonwood Community Library will be held on Friday, January 26 and Sa...


  • Redding Cultural Cruise - Day I

    01/26/2018
    04:00PM — 08:30PM

    Redding Cultural Cruise is just around the corner, coming Friday, January 26! Participate in t...


  • Wildcard Brewing Co. Foodie Friday

    01/26/2018
    05:00PM — 08:00PM

    On Fridays from 5pm-8pm, we bring you the best of both worlds: a frothy pint and a flavorful plat...


  • Sleeping Beauty

    01/26/2018
    07:00PM — 08:30AM

    RSA Theater Booster Club is a Non-Profit organization. It is our mission is to teach our middle ...


  • Redding International Folk Dancers

    01/26/2018
    07:00PM — 10:00PM

    Folk dance is for everyone and for all ages! Our motto is: If you can walk you can dance. We meet...


  • Football Season Is Here!

    01/27/2018
    09:30AM

    NFL Ticket. Sunday all day starting 930am with breakfast! Mon night Football. Thursday night S...


  • Cottonwood Community Library Book Sale

    01/27/2018
    11:00AM — 02:00PM

    A book sale to benefit the Cottonwood Community Library will be held on Friday, January 26 and Sa...


  • Redding Cultural Cruise - Day II

    01/27/2018
    11:00AM — 03:00PM

    Join us SATURDAY, JANUARY 27 for Day II of Redding Cultural Cruise! Visit a number of Redding ven...


  • Wildcard Brewing Company's Brewhouse Tour

    01/27/2018
    04:30PM — 05:00PM

    Want to know more about what goes on behind the scenes at Wildcard? Join us for a tour. This is y...


  • Sleeping Beauty

    01/27/2018
    07:00PM — 08:30AM

    RSA Theater Booster Club is a Non-Profit organization. It is our mission is to teach our middle ...


  • Redding Community Contra Dance

    01/27/2018
    07:00PM — 10:00PM

    What is contra? Contra dance is the American cousin to Scottish and English Country set dances. I...


  • Football Season Is Here!

    01/28/2018
    09:30AM

    NFL Ticket. Sunday all day starting 930am with breakfast! Mon night Football. Thursday night S...


  • Conductor and saxophonist Scott Seaton welcomes Terrie Baune (violin) and John Chernoff (piano) f...


  • North State Symphony

    01/28/2018
    02:00PM

    In this more intimate concert, Maestro Scott Seaton on his saxophone joins Concertmaster Terrie B...


  • Football Season Is Here!

    01/29/2018
    09:30AM

    NFL Ticket. Sunday all day starting 930am with breakfast! Mon night Football. Thursday night S...


  • Football Season Is Here!

    01/30/2018
    09:30AM

    NFL Ticket. Sunday all day starting 930am with breakfast! Mon night Football. Thursday night S...


  • Football Season Is Here!

    01/31/2018
    09:30AM

    NFL Ticket. Sunday all day starting 930am with breakfast! Mon night Football. Thursday night S...


  • Wildcard Brewing Company's Midweek Madness

    01/31/2018
    02:00PM — 08:00PM

    Visit either Wildcard location on Wednesdays and get $3 off a growler fill! Come by the brewery a...


  • The Peking Acrobats

    01/31/2018
    07:30PM

    For the last 30 years The Peking Acrobats have inspired fans young and old as they defy gravity w...


  • Football Season Is Here!

    02/01/2018
    09:30AM

    NFL Ticket. Sunday all day starting 930am with breakfast! Mon night Football. Thursday night S...


  • Wildcard Brewing Company's Vinyl Night

    02/01/2018
    06:00PM — 09:00PM

    Vinyl Night! Join us downtown the first and third Thursday of every month. We are going to ditch ...


Enter to win!

 

Check out our sister publication, Enjoy Magazine: South Valley Living

 

Wedding Style Guide 2017
Enjoy Magazine Facebook
Enjoy Magazine Instagram Instagram
Enjoy Magazine Pinterest Enjoy Magazine

Enjoy Our Sponsors