Their ongoing summer tour will keep Amy Ray and Emily Saliers of the Indigo Girls from attending the Grateful Dead’s three final farewell shows at Chicago’s Soldier Field this weekend. But the veteran vocal duo cites opening for the Dead at a 1993 University of Oregon stadium concert as a pivotal moment in their career.
“When people ask: ‘What shows do you remember the most?’ that’s always one I talk about,” said Ray, who performs here with Saliers on Sunday at Humphreys Concerts by the Bay. (Ticket information appears below.)
“It was just one of those moments where I was like: ‘I can’t believe I’m here!’ They were a great band — and Jerry (Garcia) was there! We learned so much from the whole experience and from the family-style way they run their business. Everything was very welcoming. Dinner (backstage) was this great, celebratory event and everybody was treated equally.
“When we went onstage, it was mind-blowing to see that many people — we didn’t have any idea they would pay attention to us. But the Dead’s audience is so supportive of their opening acts, because they know they’re sanctioned by the Dead. It taught us a lot about how to deal with our own opening acts, and our audiences, and make each concert a complete event. So opening for the Dead taught us a lot on every level. And, musically, we got to watch them play their whole show from the side of the stage, which was amazing.”