Terrapin Flyer is celebrating their 20th Anniversary as one of the top touring Grateful Dead bands in the United States. Because the band features a revolving cast of talent, hundreds of notable musicians have crossed paths with Terrapin Flyer. Among them are a who’s who of top names in the jam band world. The band started touring with former Grateful Dead keyboardist Vince Welnick in 2001 then with Melvin Seals from the Jerry Garcia Band since 2004 and also Rock and Roll Hall of Famer and former Grateful Dead keyboardist Tom Constanten since 2006.
To name all of the musicians who have performed with Terrapin Flyer would be an impossibly exhaustive task, but some include Bob Bralove from the Grateful Dead, Mark Karan from The Other Ones and Ratdog, Grammy Award winning harpist Sugar Blue, Scott Guberman from Phil Lesh and Friends, Josh Olken from Terrapin Flyer with Melvin Seals & Tom Constanten. Dave Hebert from Melvin Seals JGB, Wavy Dave Burlingame from Cornmeal, Janis Wallin from Family Groove Company and a whole host of tremendously talented musicians from across the country.
The band started headlining festivals from the first year it began and has grown comfortably into the summer festival market. Deadheads across the country know and love Terrapin Flyer. Because the Terrapin Flyer has toured for so many years and with so many legends of the Grateful Dead, they have strong markets on both coasts and all points in between. The band’s Facebook page has over 25,000 followers who are eager for the next show
Though the bands often change musicians, the show is always fun. Ultimately fun is what the Terrapin Flyer is all about. Perhaps that is why the band has joined ranks with the Merry Pranksters in Eugene, Oregon. The Pranksters who are all about fun have adopted Terrapin Flyer over the last several years. There have been many performances with original Merry Pranksters Ken Babbs and George Walker in multiple states. Zane Kesey brought the band to the Kesey Farm and took them on a personal tour and then on the bus. He dubbed Terrapin Flyer a Prankster band. Since then Terrapin Flyer has performed tours and select shows with them and are a favorite band in Eugene Oregon where the Pranksters call home.
The band has explored deeply the roots of The Grateful Dead having performed many tours with Grateful Dead keyboardist Tom Constanten who was in The Grateful Dead from 1968 – 1970 when The Dead were at their creative peak. The band got to know the deep spaces that inhabit the songs that built The Grateful Dead’s legacy. With Tom Constanten, Terrapin Flyer has also performed at the Chicago White Sox Grateful Dead Night for the last several years. Tom has thrown in the opening pitch and the band performs in left field before and during the games.
Terrapin Flyer might be best known for performing many tours with Melvin Seals from the Jerry Garcia Band for over 15 years. Melvin was Jerry Garcia’s right hand man and is unmatched in talent and authenticity on the Hammond Organ. Melvin performed with Jerry Garcia for 15 years and is one of the most revered members of the Grateful Dead fanbase. With Melvin, the band became a legitimate draw in theaters and opened up new theaters and markets for Melvin’s band Melvin Seals JGB.
Terrapin Flyer also performs nationally without the assistance of legends such as Tom and Melvin. Through years of touring and establishing the band’s reputation, Terrapin Flyer is recognized by Dead fans across the country as a band that carries with it a recognizable spirit of The Grateful Dead phenomenon. That spirit is the spirit of renewal, growth, vision and joy through music and is still present with those who are keepers of the flame of the Grateful Dead. That’s why live Grateful Dead music not only survives, but thrives despite the Grateful Dead last performing in 1995.