Jeff: I grew up on the East Coast, in the Philadelphia area. My older sister was a big Dead Head. She brought me to my first show, at the Spectrum in ’81, brought me to Red Rocks in ’83. So I caught it at a young age, and even when I lived back east before I was even 21 I ended up playing a in a band called Living Earth. Which was a big regional Dead cover band back in the day, recorded on Relix records. 

I played the violin as a kid. And then as I got into the Grateful Dead and Yes and music like that, I just had a natural inclination towards the bass. I hacked around on it through high school and took some lessons here and there, and never made it a real priority but through the college years and after, always found myself playing in bands, playing in bars, playing in clubs, and a lot of it revolved around Grateful Dead music.

Photograph © Rich Saputo

Mark: I grew up in Camarillo, which is in Ventura County here. And heavily affected by music at a very young age. Guns N’ Roses, man. “Welcome to the Jungle” hit me like a stack of bricks. Axl Rose was my idol. I grew up having idols. I am an only child, so you know. We had Axl Rose and we had Michael Jordan. And then Tears For Fears, I think was the earliest music that I can recall, I think that I really loved them. “Shout” and all those hits that Tears For Fears had. Then my father bought me a drum set, this was when I was about eight or nineyearsold, so I play the drums and stuff like that. We are just music freaks on this side of the family. My dad was Jimi Hendrix, my mom was Beatles and that’s the way it was. Music runs pretty strong on my mom’s side of the family, so my grandfather played and my uncle, my cousin play. So it was always just something I was kind of good at from an early age. 

Photograph © Rich Saputo

Then I heard “Friend of the Devil,” and man, that’s the song that really got me because of the bluegrass feel and the uppity feel, and that is the one that kind of drew me in. My mom— then I grabbed my mom’s tape collection. And, yeah, it was the album with the “Friend of the Devil” on it. Pretty much. And I was pretty young and from there on out I had to search out by myself being an only child. So I had to go to our local record shop called Salzer’s. And I had to look for the Grateful Dead collection. I went straight for the live stuff, the Dick’s picks, so I bought myself like three Dick’s picks. And then I was introduced to “China Cat Sunflower,” “I Know You Rider,” “Scarlet Begonias,” and that became you know, a love. In high school. That was high school. That’s like senior year. 

I got out of high school and smoked pot, a lot of it. Listened to a lot of reggae music, I got into hiphop, I got into all kinds of stuff, you know what I mean. I started making beats, hiphop beats, you know. And guitar was always there. You know, the Dead was always there, and you know, I went and saw, I couldn’t see the Dead, obviously, because, I was I’m only born in ’82. You know, Jeff saw the Dead before I was born, man, so that really puts things into perspective. 

Photograph © Rich Saputo

But I went and saw Further at the Santa Barbara Bowl and that was really cool, and I got a chance to see John Mayer with the Dead at the Hollywood Bowl a couple years back. And, you know, I have never had trouble having an experience. And I never had trouble getting—not getting the music, you know, I always understood it. And I’ve always loved Jerry Garcia. He’s every time I take a pee, I have got a big Jerry picture right in front of me. It’s amazing. That’s the only place my wife let me put it. 

Jeff: I left Philly for Seattle and continued to play music. While living in Seattle, I started a career with Guitar Center, of all things, that lasted about 17 years. And ironically through moving and working and working my way up the corporate ladder, I hadn’t played a lot of music throughout those years. That eventually got me to Ventura, which is where their corporate offices are. At the end of 2014, I left Guitar Center. Shortly after that, I was familiar with the Shaky Feelin band from living in Ventura County. First time I saw Shaky Feelin they were actually opening for a version of JGB that was playing at the Canyon Club, so another just like a little Dead connection. And then a couple of years later, I find myself changing careers and getting back into music, I met Mark and joined Shaky Feelin’ in 2015. 

Photograph © Rich Saputo

Mark: I guess I started Shaky Feelin’ Because I wanted to be a rock star. You know, I loved playing music. I loved jamming, that was one of the most important things. I loved writing songs. I loved covering, you know, my hero’s song. And we also loved to jam in the songs. That’s kind of why we started the band, to jam, man, and to make harmony and to make good music. We started it ten years ago. And though we play mostly Dead, we do do some original songs. We’ve played around the West Coast, Oregon, Arizona. 

I was doing some, we were doing camp grounds after Phish shows, we would set up in these camp grounds and play Phish and Dead songs. So I made it as far as Deer Creek in Noblesville, Indiana. That was pretty crazy. 

Jeff: Playing bass on Dead tunes means you’re in Phil’s footsteps, and I love it. I think it gives you a lot of freedom to improvise and to be a little busier sometimes, maybe, and be a little more melodic, you know, I definitely don’t— I learned the Phil licks and the parts of the songs that you have to, you have to have the parts, but I don’t I feel like very few bass players sound like Phil, like copying that sound and nailing that sound. You know, a lot of them play Grateful Dead songs but you know, it’s so hard to just mimic Phil Lesh. But I think because of that and within that, there is just it’s an open palate to create to play bass lines. He has always been my favorite from the way he plays to the tone to the basses he plays. Just a huge fan of Phil, a love of Phil. 

I do love Oteil. Growing up on the East Coast during the Horde festival days, I was familiar with Oteil and he’s awesome. I think he sounds great with the band, but I still can’t help that every time I go, which is a lot, I go, God, I just miss Phil a little bit, you know. So I have seen Phil and Friends a ton. Really looking forward to seeing Phil and Friends at Skull & Roses, that was a great surprise. 

Mark: Definitely the Dead will live on forever. Because, you know, all these great bands are playing their music and continuing the love of the Dead man, and it’s a brand you see people that aren’t even into the Dead, don’t even know who the Dead is, and they are all wearing their shirts. And there’s your MBA, wearing Grateful Dead stuff now. So it’s definitely a brand, it’s cool, it’s hip and it ain’t going anywhere anytime soon. 

Jeff: Being a Dead Head, it’s more than music, I think you’ve got to embrace the community, the kindness, the generosity, the ingenuity, you know, enjoying successes. I mean, you know, celebrating wins, having fun for sure. You know, I think it’s like a lifestyle almost, and I think at the heart of it, it’s the music that moves you. And then, hopefully, it’s that fun and that friendship and those relationships that give you, you know, the spirit to be a kind giving soul. And as a musician, like Mark said we love to jam and improvise, and I feel like so much of what’s inside of me is the spirit of the music, so it just encompasses everything; you’re what you listen to, what you play, how you live, you know how you vacation, going to Playin’ in the Sand, you know, that’s a big commitment. You know, you start to make very big life decisions because of this music. 

Mark: I was thinking of that song “Get Together” as being a Dead head, smiling on your brother, everybody get together, got everyone love one another right now. You know, that’s what it means to me. And, of course, being the guy who gets the play the music is, it’s lot of fun on my side too. I mean, getting to bring the Dead music to Ventura. And you know, just trying to continue on the love as best as I can. By the way, the name Shaky Feelin’ is about embracing your inner Shaky Feelin, coming to the gigs and just letting your inner animal, just just unleashing it.

Photograph © Rich Saputo

Pandemic Update

The Pandemic, sure slowed us down. But we still kept in touch. My house is home base for the band. We still practiced. I feel like our band got way better throughout the pandemic. We wrote new songs, we recorded a new record. I just feel like we all took it to the next level. For sure. The break from playing live was actually good. 

Jeff: You know, it felt like a reset. I mean, I wish society wasn’t so mentally shaken up right now. But for me and you know my personal relationships and everything it was a nice reset and like it was nice to have some sort of down time and reprioritize some things, you know, get healthier, play more music. You know, it was it was a blessing and a curse. 

Mark: We’ve played all the Skull and Roses, and I’m looking forward to the next one. I heard Jimi Hendrix had a hard time with the bowl, but we haven’t. It’s amazing, you get to look at palm trees. You get to the ocean breeze, we’re at home. It’s our hometown festival. Everybody is there. There is no better time in the world. Honestly, I cannot wait. And the beer is flowing like a river. 

Jeff: Yeah, I love to look at the old pictures of the Dead up on stage. And then go down there and look at…we are standing there amongst the same palm trees, you know, that’s…It’s magical. You know, it’s supermagical. The vibe is amazing, I am ready for it to happen.