So Many Roads Poster

Grateful Dead Scholars Gather at SJSU


Media contact: Pat Harris, 408-924-1748

SAN JOSE, CA – “So Many Roads: The World in the Grateful Dead,” an academic conference showcasing the wide-ranging scholarship devoted to the band and its impact on culture and history, will be held Nov. 5-8 at the San Jose State University Student Union. 

Reduced-fee registration is available through October 6, and a block of hotel rooms has been reserved at the nearby Fairmont San Jose hotel. Sponsors include SJSU in partnership with the Grateful Dead Archive at the University of California at Santa Cruz, Rhino Entertainment, Grateful Dead Productions, and Ice Nine Publishing. San Jose holds a special place in the band’s history.

Garcia and Pigpen played folk clubs in and around the SJSU campus in the early 1960s,” said Michael Parrish, conference co-organizer, music journalist, and dean of SJSU’s College of Science. “The San Jose Acid Test, where the band first performed as the Grateful Dead, took place two blocks away, on the current site of the San Jose City Hall, and the Dead was the first musical act to play in the SJSU Student Union on Halloween night in 1969.”

As the band approaches its 50th anniversary in 2015, the issues and events surrounding the Grateful Dead remain compelling to scholars working in a wide range of disciplines. The SJSU event will build on the success and ripple effects of “Unbroken Chain: The Grateful Dead in Music, Culture, and Memory” held in 2007 at the University of Massachusetts.

The conference title refers to a remarkable discourse and a compelling and growing body of work,” Nicholas Meriwether, Grateful Dead archivist at the University of California, Santa Cruz, explained. “The Grateful Dead were always a uniquely American institution, but the range of its influence and the scope of its achievements are truly international. That’s why the title of the conference is ‘The World in the Grateful Dead’—for they truly did capture the world in their music.”

Over 50 speakers are confirmed. The international roster includes academics, family members and associates of the band, journalists, artists, musicians, and over 15 authors of Dead-related books.  On Friday, a celebration of San Francisco poster art featuring work by Stanley Mouse, David Singer, Dennis Larkins, Gary Houston and Chris Shaw will be held in conjunction with a major exhibit of Grateful Dead art in the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Library. Panels will explore the band’s influence in such diverse areas as politics, business, journalism, religious studies, and even gourmet cooking.

Confirmed participants include Grateful Dead Vault Archivist and Legacy Manager David Lemieux; Rhino Records President Mark Pinkus; acoustician Elizabeth Cohen; technology investor and Moonalice founder Roger McNamee; journalists David Dodd, David Gans, Blair Jackson and Steve Silberman; musicologists Graeme Boone, Shaugn O’Donnell and Brian Felix; historians Michael Kramer and Peter Richardson; photographers Susana Millman, Jay Blakesberg, Ed Perlstein and Bob Minkin; and master chefs Kimball Jones, Kevin Weinberg and Ray Sewell. Family members of the band include Trixie Garcia, Rosie McGee, and Rhoney Stanley.

San Jose State — Silicon Valley’s largest institution of higher learning with 30,000 students and 3,740 employees — is part of the California State University system. SJSU’s 154-acre downtown campus anchors the nation’s 10th largest city.