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Dead & Company Keyboardist Jeff Chimenti Talks Musical Experience in New Interview

by Cailey Lindberg   Dec 31, 2015 11:43 AM EST

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Jeff Chimenti had been on the periphery of the Grateful Dead jam band scene for years and served as a keyboardist for Bob Weir's side project Ratdog for a total of 18 years. He also moonlighted with Grateful Dead bassist Phil Lesh for his band Phil and Friends in addition to touring with Further Festival. During the summer of 2015, he also played with drummers Mickey Hart and Bill Kreutzmann with Phish guitarist Trey Anastasio for the Fare Thee Well concerts.

Chimenti is, for all intensive purposes, a jazz musician who now plays with revival band Dead & Company and the band is set to perform a dual night New Year's gig at The Forum in Los Angeles. The second part of the 50th anniversary show will feature Hart, Weir and Kreutzmann with John Mayer playing guitar and Oteil Burbridge playing bass.

When asked about his experience with Dead & Company, Chimenti told Billboard, "It happened from gig one, and is continuing to grow, which is what we want. Obviously, during the rehearsal period, even though you're learning song forms and harmony, you try to jam... And we got into some moments there, too, but it really comes to life once you hit the stage. And there's no other way to find out - you've got to jump into the fire and go for it."

Chimenti further detailed his involvement with the Fare Thee Well shows, saying, "It was awesome. Just, wow. And probably about what I would have imagined to be the closest to a full-on Grateful Dead experience. Being able to see it from the side of the stage and looking out at that stadium crowd, it was a treat."

Back in November, Dead & Company did a two-night run at Madison Square Garden, where they performed classic Dead tracks that included "Bertha," "Fire On The Mountain," "Uncle John's Band," "Friend of the Devil," "Truckin,'" and "Ripple." For the third night of the Madison Square Garden run the band held a contest that rewarded select participants with 10,000 total free tickets to the show.

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