B.C. Indigenous artist designed upcoming Grateful Dead boxed set

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One of the pieces by Roy Henry Vickers that will be used for the boxed set. This image is called Raven People. Vickers says the image is a circular drum and the raven in the centre is the creator. The people represent humankind.

The Grateful Dead’s upcoming 19-disc boxed set will be released in an ornate box created by B.C. First Nations artist Roy Henry Vickers.

Vickers says he’s been working on the art for the boxed set and associated products for almost two years. He points to the cover of the vinyl Portland Memorial Coliseum six-LP set, which will be released at the same time as the 19-disc set.

The face in the sky represents one of the ancestors and he submitted a quote to accompany the design:

“When you’re standing in the strength, truth and the beauty of who you are our ancestors are on the other side whispering to each other excitedly — ‘maybe this one will be the one to bring forth the strength and the truth and the beauty in our lineage’ — and they are the grateful dead because we are living the life we’re supposed to live,” he says.

The more he learned about his Tsimshian, Haida and Heiltsuk ancestry in his youth, the more he wanted to become an artist to teach others “because discrimination is ignorance. The only way we solve ignorance is to teach each others.”

“In this one year, at the age of 72, I have connected myself to a group of people who will do more to teach the world about the Pacific Northwest than in all of my 44 years as an artist. It’s pretty exciting,” he says.

Vickers has published books, completed over 26 totem poles and owns a gallery that bears his name in Tofino. He currently lives in Hazelton.

Pacific Northwest ’73-’74: The Complete Recordings will feature six previously unreleased shows recorded during those years that spotlight two of the band’s tours through Portland, Seattle and Vancouver.

The concerts include the band’s performance at the Pacific Coliseum at the PNE in Vancouver on June 22, 1973 and on May 17, 1974.

Other performances were recorded at Portland Memorial Coliseum, Seattle Center Arena and the Hec Edmundson Pavilion at the University of Washington in Seattle.

“The show contains some of the most famous moments in Grateful Dead live history, including the ‘Bird Song’ from Vancouver ’73, the Portland ’74 ‘Truckin Jam’ and the 47-minute ‘Playing In The Band’ from Seattle ’74,” says David Lemieux, Grateful Dead archivist and the set’s producer.

The set is now available for preorder and will be shipped to arrive on September 7.

Production is limited to 15,000 individually numbered copies, includes a 64-page book and is available from dead.net. Apple Lossless and FLAC digital downloads will be available from dead.net starting on September 7.

A three-disc compilation, Pacific Northwest ’73-’74: Believe It If You Need It, will come out at the same time to buy or stream and the Portland concert will be released as a limited edition six-LP set.

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Melissa is a reporter at Vancouver Is Awesome and has worked primarily in radio and online media. She grew up in Ontario, went to school in Halifax and worked in Northern B.C. before moving to Vancouver. If you've got a story to share email: melissa@vancouverisawesome.com