Cover band recreates a classic experience


The Grateful Dead was one of the most influential San Francisco bands in the 1960s.

It attracted a large and loyal fan base, often referred to as “Dead Heads” with its surrealistic sound and ability to improvise music during live performances.

This is what 43-year-old Dan Murphy, a vocalist/guitarist for Grateful Dead cover band, Hardly Deadly, aims to capture with his band’s performances.

“There was a lot of love and a lot of community in the music they wrote,” said Murphy. “They never played the same show twice and that’s one thing we can honestly recreate; we don’t play the same show twice.

We can play the shows they played, but there’s bands that do that, and that’s not really what we do. What we try to do is to take the music that they wrote and put it together in a new creative presentation, but the music has the familiar elements that made the Dead Heads love it.”

Murphy was born in the Bay Area then moved to Stockton at a young age. This isn’t the first band he has been in.

When he was going to school in Humboldt in the 1990s, Murphy was in a reggae band and formed more bands here in Stockton after he returned from school.

In 2013, Murphy formed Hardly Deadly with members from his previous band, Greenhouse.

“I started the band here in 2013 as a side jam,” said Murphy. “But then we started doing performances around and then we started taking things down the road.”

Now Hardly Deadly is no longer a side jam band and is doing shows around the state.

One of Murphy’s favorite things about the Grateful Dead was the band’s live performances, not just for the music but what was happening around it as well.

“I really found that the Grateful Dead experience, not only the music but the whole experience was something I wanted to try taking part in and keeping alive,” said Murphy.

Grateful Dead shows were like carnivals, Murphy said.

“There’s something for everybody there.” Murphy said. “And it’s probably too much too fast of everything. I had a great time there, you know. You always have to make your choices and make sure you can live with them.”