Thoughts On The Dead

Musings on the Most Ridiculous Band I Can't Stop Listening To

Tag: reed mathis

New Year, New Bar Band

As the swallows return to Capistrano, each new year sees Billy molt out of his previous bar band and pupate himself a new one. The redheaded bass player is Reed Richards, and he was in Billy’s last group; his presence in the current ensemble suggests he did not ask for a raise.

Can Jambase and Relix please credit me? I stole this picture fair and square from Benjy Eisen’s Instagram account, so it’s my news. Thank you.

You burying the lede a little, skipper?


Is Benjy managing this group?

Oh, God, I hope so.

I hope so for all of us.

Don’t Call It A Comeback

benjy bernie

Hey, Benjy. Whatcha doing?

“Feeling the Bern.”

Been a while, buddy. How’s it going?

“Good! I’m Spider-Man now.”

No, you’re just making the gesture.

“How many times did Billy kill me? I’m functionally immortal; I might also have spider-powers.”

It wouldn’t be the weirdest thing in here. I’m sorry you and Billy broke up.

“It may have been inevitable.”

No “may” about it.

“For the best. We had a journey, we learned, and we parted as friends.”

Punch you in the dick?

“That’s how Billy defines friendship, so yeah.”

What happened?

“I can’t talk about it.”

Is it too painful?

“Nah, I’m cool.”

Was there a non-disclosure form?

“Billy has a pillow with ‘Snitches get stitches’ crocheted on it in his living room, but no.”

So, why can’t you talk about it?

“I don’t actually remember what happened.”

That sounds right.

“Things were going well. The Farewell Shows were a success, and the tour, and Billy kept coming up with clever ways to murder me, and we were having such a great time.”

What’s the last thing you remember?

“Me and Billy were watching TV, and he made us some drinks, and that’s it.”

What were you watching?

Cosby Show.”

I think I know what happened. What’s the next thing you remember?

“Waking up in Bratislava.”

That’s no good.

“And I didn’t have an entry stamp in my passport.”

Oh, that’s no good at all.

“And I was–”

Naked and moneyless.

“–naked and…yeah.”

Hey, look on the bright side: when Billy used to do that shit to people, Phil would steal their kidneys.

“True true. It’s no big deal. Within a week, I had risen to the top of the Bratislava jam band scene and was co-authoring the memoirs of the biggest drummer in Slovakia, Miroslav Mäsiar.”

That’s great, man. How’d that turn out?

“I don’t remember.”

Where’d you wake up this time?

“A town called Bariloche in Argentina.”

I know that name.

“It’s the Nazi town.”

Oh, no.

“A lot of those fuckers got out. And they went to Argentina, and they loved this town, man. Had a lot of kids. Left their mark.”


“On the other hand, they do this thing that’s a cross between a Bavarian pretzel and a churro that’s just killer.”

That’s good.

“They’re the shape of swastikas.”

That’s bad.

“I didn’t do too bad there.”

There absolutely cannot be a jam band scene in the Nazi town in Argentina.

“It’s small, but thriving. Lot of tribute bands. I managed one.”

What was their name?

“The Grateful (Six Million Jews Are) Dead.”

That’s the worst thing I’ve ever heard!

“They’re Nazis! What do you expect!?”

How could you manage them, Benjy?

“Oh, it’s okay: I don’t think they knew I was Jewish.”


“I didn’t tell them.”

Did you tell them your name?

“Fake one.”

What was it?

“Gentile Benj.”

Nicely done. They knew.

“I don’t think so. No one ever even said the word ‘Jewish.'”

That’s because Spanish lacks a “J” sound. What did they call you?

“They had the cutest nickname for me. Pinchy Yoody.”

Yeah, that means “Fucking Jew.”

“I took French. Anyway, if that’s what was going on, then I feel better about the job I did with the money.”

What’d you do?

“Stole it and skipped town.”

That’ll teach ’em to hire a Yoody. And now you’re back in the States?

“It was a windy road. And windy. I lost my hat.”


“I got a new thing, though; it’s great. Managing another band. Reed Mathis from the Kids is in it, and it’s called Electric Beethoven.”

So, it’s Beethoven?

“But electric.”

Then that’s a good name. Gotta say, though: that site’s a bit barren at the moment. Anywhere we can hear what they’re all about?

“Good of you to ask. We’ve been posting stuff in our Instagram account. Take a listen.”

I will.


Y’know, Benj: I initially scoffed.

“Yeah, you do that.”

And I still don’t know if I completely understand the concept, but I enjoyed what I heard, and would listen to more gladly. Are they booked anywhere around me?

“The Jam Cruise!”

I will not be seeing Electric Beethoven.

“Okay. Um. What’s going on?”

I don’t follow.

“You’re letting me plug, you’re being really nice: what’s going on?”

I admire a man who can take a punch.

“Yeah, all right.”

Also, this:



I got my flamethrower.


The one I was talking about before.



Hey Benj.

“Don’t do that, man.”

But you just come right back.

“I don’t! I go, like, through a place. It’s hell, but inside-out. And every time I do I feel like I lose a little bit of my sou–”



Punchy, The Surliest Reindeer

billy reed mathis xmas hats
Hey, Billy. Whatcha doing?

“Celebrating Christmas! Happy Jew day, Thoughts on my Ass. You eat your Chinese food?”

That’s offensive, and I did.

“Knew it.”

Did you get your bass player high, Billy?

“Little bit.”

Good talk.

Dream A Little Dream

Couches are supposed to be for resting and relaxation, so I don’t know why Couch Tour is enervating me so, but I am exhausted. This time last year, Bobby was in rehab and Billy was in Hawaii and John Mayer was just a callow farmboy from Tatooine; there was nothing but long stretches of nothing, time enough to concoct stories about MechaBilly and visit Little Aleppo.

Now, though, there are streams to keep up with and books, articles, conferences, documentaries to read or watch or peevishly demand free copies of.

I do it for you, though, Enthusiasts. After all, TotD is the Only Dead Site That Matters.

Oh, no. Stop that.

Is it not true? Is it not written?

Yes, but: you wrote it.

There you go.

Please just continue.

Many things to know, Enthusiasts. Options a-plenty in Deadworld: there is the Dead & Company show in Worcester, MA, which can be listened to here.

This is the poster:

deadandco poster boston
The slightly observant will notice that the Dead’s iconography now extends to Steampunk, because absolutely everything hadn’t been ruined, but the inclusion of Steampunk signals that every single bit of reality is now terrible. (Steampunk is the only goggle-based aesthetic: everything and everyone involved in Steampunk has goggles on.)

The more observant will wonder how Brian May’s guitar got dragged into all of this.

The truly observant will realize that “Worcester” has been misspelled quite badly. (For those of you unfamiliar with Massachusetts, saying a Woostah show is in Boston is like saying the Newark Devils play in New York City.)

OR you could curl up with Without A Net. Not the live album, but instead a group of stunningly good musicians playing Dead tunes, featuring Reed Mathis from Billy and the Kids and a guy named Fareed Haque on guitar. Mr. Completely’s been ranting about this and rightly so: it is phenomenal – heavy, but with a bouncy groove. It sounds nothing like the Dead and that is the perfect compliment to both this band and to the Dead. It shows that the material–the canon they created–is worth keeping around for as long as we’ve held onto Gershwin and Foster. You should listen to this.

What about a book?

David Gans was kind enough to send me a copy of This Is All A Dream We Dreamed: An Oral History of the Grateful Dead and I’m looking forward to cracking it open. Blair Jackson is David Gans’ longtime collaborator and co-author, but he has not paid me my due tribute, so I’m calling this one a Gans book.

Anyway: go buy it. As I said, I haven’t started it yet, so it might be written in Latvian or have crushed spiders* between each chapter, but probably not.

*That’s a great idea for a horror book, actually: in between, say, page 190 and 191, there’s a real dead spider. That would scare people.

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