The Dead's Artistry Got Her, The Music Got Me.  Then We Got Each Other.

The Dead's Artistry Got Her, The Music Got Me. Then We Got Each Other.

I’ve often thought the Dead’s music is a lot like beer:  nobody ever likes their first one.  I first heard the Dead played on a friend’s cassette boom box on my freshman hall at William & Mary in 1985.  I couldn’t understand what he liked about it.  To my Van Halen Judas Priest Black Sabbath loving ears it sounded… disconnected and unpolished.  Then somewhere not long after that, Franklin’s Tower came on – and they had me.  I still can’t explain what it was about that song that grabbed me, but it did.  And it’s still one of my favorites. 
After I saw them live at Hampton Coliseum that same year (or maybe it was 1986 - it’s all a blur), I never looked back.  The music had gotten my attention first, and the community pulled me in.  When I was at a show, I felt at home.  Surrounded by thousands of friends I haven’t yet met.  And that’s how it is – everyone is your friend or potential friend.  Conversations come easily, goodwill is plentiful, and there’s nothing left to do but smile, smile, smile. 
I’ve never found another “place” with the same endlessly positive, supportive vibe.  A good vacation comes close to mimicking the carefree feel but can’t replicate the universal high spirits.  At many other events, accidentally bumping into someone may be met with aggression, or at least annoyance.  Bumping into someone at a Dead show will always result in a friendly “No worries, brother!” and a decent chance of an interesting conversation and a new friend. 
The music though….  At once, any song is clearly recognizable and yet different every time they play it.  The improvisation and artistry make it special – simultaneously familiar and adventurous.  I can listen to their music endlessly and never get tired of it because there’s always something new to offer, some hint or aspect of a song or a certain performance that you never noticed before.  Or a new lyric you hadn’t much thought about before.
The Dead has been part of my identity since I was 18 years old.  When you’re wearing a t-shirt or some other garment, or have Althea blasting in your car, there’s a good chance another Dead Head will offer a spontaneous friendly greeting.  This feeds my soul as a social creature and makes me feel connected to fellow travelers.  It’s not so much about belonging to something, but rather about the possibilities of connection and the natural openness.
So, it was funny when Meghan and I first met, and in that “getting to know you” phase of a new romantic interest, I asked her if she had ever heard of a band called the Grateful Dead.  She responded by texting me this picture!  Wow, what??  I knew right away: she was not like other girls.  I asked her her favorite song, and she replied “Touch of Grey,” which told me that yes, she knew the music, but she had barely scratched the surface so far.  I resolved then and there to be a tour guide.
And I found that fascinating:  while I had been captured by the music and then found the community, Meghan had been captured by the community and the culture, and then found the music.  I’m proud to say I conducted a full immersion course, which developed her casual affection into a deep appreciation.  And in turn, she has taken me even deeper into the culture as she builds relationships with fellow fans in online forums, absorbing and spreading the vibe. 
Going to see the boys play, or road-tripping to nearby bars to catch a good cover band is just delightful for us. 
We had talked for years about expanding our small women’s designer clothing business to include a project that drew on our shared love for the Dead’s music, culture, and community.  A true labor of love for us, the idea of Meghan applying her copious design talent and me building a business around art that I love is a dream come true.  Watching Meghan create these incredible, wearable works of art and then being able to offer them to the community that has meant so much for us is incredibly rewarding. 
The journey has been long.  From dozens and dozens of blind emails trying to find the right person to talk to at Warner Music, to Covid-related snafus with the factory we hired to produce Meghan’s designs, it really has been a long, strange trip.  It’s almost impossible to believe that we presented our proposal to Warner back in May of 2021.  And at that time, we planned to begin marketing by August of the same year!  Bless our hearts….
Instead, a pandemic and numerous challenges to overcome have caused nearly two full years to elapse before our Grateful Dead Fabulous collection will hit the stores.  That’s a long time to be going down the road feeling bad, but we are thrilled with the results and hope all our fellow Heads will be, too. 

This is the first-ever collaboration that combines the Grateful Dead’s rich archive of artistic assets with true high-fashion design talent to bring to market a thoroughly unique collection of wearable art.  Warner was excited too, because the collection is so different and because they’ve been hearing from women for years, “The guys have their t-shirts and hoodies.  Where is something feminine for us girls?”
Well, now it’s here.  It goes on sale in March 2023 and the demand is already staggering.  Wholesale pre-orders have been written by better women’s boutiques across the country and people on social media are clamoring to get their hands on Meghan’s labor-of-love salute of respect and affection. 
We hope you love it and enjoy our little tribute to a band, a community, and a tribe of fellow travelers that have meant so much to us. 
Fare thee well.
Steve Dunlap
Co-Owner, Meghan Fabulous
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