The Grateful Dead are alive. Okay, not exactly, but we can say this: the Dead's legacy has been slumbering all these long decades since Jerry Garcia's death (and a few years before that, honestly). Starting with the Fare Thee Well reunion shows and Dead & Company's successful winter tour last year, the gentle giant has risen. But, the Summer of 2016 is shaping up to be a truly Dead season.

In many ways, 2016 is the 50th Anniversary of the band as a defined entity.

After all, 1965 really was nothing more than some Acid Tests and a Fillmore show in December. 1966 saw Family Dog's first Dead show, the Avalon Ballroom's first Dead show, the first Dead show in Golden Gate Park, Winterland's first Dead show, the first Dead New Year's Eve show, and the first time the Dead headlined at the Fillmore.

Day of the Dead

So in this summer of Dead-love, here comes The National with an epic, truly in scale and gestation project: The Day of the Dead tribute album is 59 tracks consuming six hours of play time.

Announced in 2011, the album is finally slated for release on May 20, 2016 (there was no show that date in 1966, though the Dead did play the Avalon on May 19th). The album features Bob Weir in live performances of "St. Stephen" with Wilco and "I Know You (Rider)" with The National. Check out some of the other artists in the list below. The one and only Day of the Dead concert performance takes place at the Eaux Claires Music and Arts Festival, Aug. 12-13 in Eau Clair, Wisc., with The National, Bruce Hornsby, and other artists from the album.

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The legacy

So, what's it all about, this neverending dive into the vast catalog of Garcia-Hunter and Weir-Barlow songs? Is it just "Beatlemania," hippie style? No -- more like "Something" by Sinatra, or "(With a Little) Help From My Friends" by Joe Cocker. The Dead's songbook is a pastiche of Americana from a bygone era, perfect open hooks for jam bands, and stunningly beautiful, heartbreaking love songs. Singer-songerwriter Bill Callahan noted the elegant way the Dead tapped into our musical past "in a respectful way," unlike say ... the Rolling Stones who "felt like pillagers to me." Like some sort of magical CPR, the Dead "expanded the lungs of the old songs," Callahan said.

Dead and Company roar back

The Day of the Dead album drops prior to the Dead and Company Summer tour, which will take the band -- Weir, drummers Mickey Hart and Bill Kreutzmann, as well as John Mayer, Oteil Burbridge, and Steve Chimenti -- from June 10 in Charlotte, NC to July 30 in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Dark Star Orchestra

Kicking the season off, Dark Star Orchestra, the band that performs recreations of classic Dead shows, opens a brief West Coast tour this month in Seattle, Portland, Eugene, Berkeley, Lake Tahoe, Salt Lake City, and Boulder. An East Coast run starts April 29th in New Orleans and covers various venues in New Jersey, New York, and the Mid-Atlantic.

A lengthier Summer tour takes the band through mid-August.

Here are some of the tracks on the upcoming album:

Touch of Grey • The War on Drugs

Friend of the Devil • Mumford and Sons

Black Muddy River • Bruce Hornsby & De Yarmond Edison

Morning Dew • The National

Black Peter • Anohni and yMusic

Box of Rain • Kurt Vile and the Violators (featuring J Mascis)

Rubin & Cherise • Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy & Friends

Uncle John’s Band • Lucius

Transitive Refraction Axis for John Oswald • Tim Hecker

Playing in the Band • Tunde Adebimpe, Lee Ranaldo & Friends

Brokedown Palace • Richard Reed Parry with Caroline Shaw and Little Scream (featuring Garth Hudson)

Terrapin Station (Suite) • Daniel Rossen, Christopher Bear & The National (featuring Josh Kaufman, Conrad Doucette, So Percussion & Brooklyn Youth Chorus)

Going Down The Road Feeling Bad • Lucinda Williams & Friends

And We Bid You Goodnight • Sam Amidon

Dark Star • The Flaming Lips

Franklin’s Tower • Orchestra Baobab

Help On The Way • Béla Fleck

Cumberland Blues • Charles Bradley and Menahan Street Band

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