April 2012 - Vol 9, No 4
FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – What does the universe sound like? How could any one person assemble the signals, vibrations and energy of the great wide open cosmic plain into an organized collection of musical compositions? Grateful Dead percussionist Mickey Hart not only was qualified for the job, but has worked alongside the likes of NASA and George Lucas on somewhat similar endeavors in the past; and on April 10 will release his interpretation of the sounds of space, entitled Mysterium Tremendum.
Hart may’ve been pivotal in gathering, arranging and aggressively framing this ‘heavenly clockwork’, as he so eloquently describes it, but he definitely once again got by with a little bit of help from his friends.
“For this project I had to carefully align not only really talented players, but people that wanted to go on the voyage, to dance with the singularities of the universe, to celebrate its spiritual overtones and also have the ability to interpret the radio waves and vibrations found in deep space,” Hart lucidly explains.
The musical roster for Mysterium Tremendum reads like a who’s who from across the musical spectrum, including Widespread Panic bassman Dave Schools, fellow percussionist Sikiru Adepoju, award-winning vocalists Crystal Monee Hall and Tim Hockenberry, drummer Ian Herman, guitarist Gawain Matthews and keyboardist/producer Ben Yonas. This is also the version of the Mickey Hart Band that will be making tour stops across the country, including an invasion of George’s Majestic Lounge in Fayetteville, Ark. at 8 p.m. on Monday, April 23.
Some amazing friends and Bay-Area neighbors also lent their unique tones to the universally-themed record but at press-time were not listed, including guitarist Steve Kimock, percussionists Zakir Hussain and Giovanni Hidalgo, and bassist/Tulsa-native Reed Mathis.
“There’s a lot of emotion in the playing and performance, both on the record and live,” Hart reflects. “I love the zone and it’s a brand new universe, singing its own tune; music of the world, of the Earth.”
But the man who spent decades on the road with one of the greatest American rock ‘n roll bands in history offers up clues that lend to the music’s vast parameters.
“These sounds appear from above and beyond the moon, and interdependently operate on their own recklessness on occasion.”
However chaotic or calming these vibrations may appear musically, Mickey called on non-other than the Grateful Dead’s longtime collaborative lyricist, Robert Hunter, to marry words to his otherworldly compositions.
“Usually when I write with Bob (Hunter), there would always be a real theme and he’d know what I was hoping to get across lyrically. He took the concepts for Mysterium Tremendum and went away to his cabin in the woods and just nailed it.”
“He’s so irreplaceable in my life,” Hart says warmly, “Much like the musicians I’ve created with through time. He’s at the top of his game.”
Mickey Hart is not only an iconic piece of America’s positioning in the global musical realm, but he’s also a philanthropist and a believer in music’s potential to heal people. Those who purchase tickets to any of the Mickey Hart Band performances through his website, www.mickeyhart.net, will be making a contribution to Music Therapy Research.
“Music is medicine therapy,” explains the rhythm king, “a lot of people have used it to its maximum power to help cure or ease the symptoms of everything from depression to Parkinson’s. Music is vibration(s), which effects the neuropathways and its inhibitors; it’s become a real science all its own – exploring what sounds do what.”
And it’s that essence – exploring what sounds do what – that keep Mickey Hart and millions others around the world searching for the sound, even as far away as deep space.
“Music is life and life is music; that’s all there is to it,” Hart offers. “Be aware of everything around you. Vibration is everything. Einstein did his best work on music; he’d grab his violin and then he’d be opened up to everything, have major breakthroughs in forming his theories and thoughts.
Then Hart wraps it up, like a perfect percussive ending to an extended version of “Drums” or “Space.”
“Music opens us up to math, music, geography, culture, love. If there is a god somewhere out there, it’s a vibration. Therefore, music is my god.”
Mickey Hart is currently giving away the first single, "Slow Joe Rain", off of Mysterium Tremendum, at www.mickeyhart.net/download. Catch the Mickey Hart Band live in Currentland on Monday, April 23, at George’s Majestic Lounge in Fayetteville, Ark.