Steve Mitchell performs at the Vault Café on Feb. 28. (Photo courtesy Matthew McSheehy)

Mid-Island musician reimagines the Grateful Dead as a one-man band

Steve Mitchell presents ‘Seagrass: An Evening of Songs by The Grateful Dead’

Mid-Island musician Steve Mitchell is taking on the repertoire of the Grateful Dead armed with a guitar and a foot-operated drum and tambourine.

“It’s like patting your head and rubbing your belly,” said the White Rock-raised musician and past member of the Juno-winning Paper Boys.

Mitchell is back in B.C. after spending 15 years writing 1,400 songs as a songwriter in Nashville. He said when he returned to his home province, he wanted to try something new. That led him to reimagine the Grateful Dead, a long-running American jam band, as a one-man band.

“I’ve really been stripping the songs down to what they really are at their very essence…” Mitchell said. “I already knew probably close to 15 or 16 Dead songs and I just went ahead and taught myself maybe about 30 more.”

On Feb. 28 Mitchell presents Seagrass: An Evening of Songs by The Grateful Dead at the Vault Café. He said he chose to pay tribute to the group because they have meant a lot to him and he knew he would have an audience.

“They are one of my very biggest influences and those songs are kind of like my sanctuary and my friends…” he said. “And I’ve lived on the Island before so I knew that it wouldn’t be too hard to find Deadheads.”

Mitchell has been working on Seagrass for the past four months. He calls it “a labour of love.”

“As much as I love writing songs, these are the reason why I do write songs is because of picking up that Grateful Dead album when I was 13 years old when I was babysitting and throwing it on the turntable and realizing that this was my music,” he said.

WHAT’S ON … Seagrass: An Evening of Songs by The Grateful Dead comes to the Vault Café, 499 Wallace St., on Friday, Feb. 28 at 10 p.m. Tickets $10 at the door.

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