Dead Floyd is a regionally touring band from the Front Range that started in Fort Collins nine years ago. The band has a devoted following as it blends tunes from two bands, the Grateful Dead and Pink Floyd, but members create a matchless sound of their own. Since the band’s conception, they play the Mishawaka every year. Dead Floyd is one of the few local bands that pack the Mish as headliners. Members of Dead Floyd are Charlie Humphreys (guitar, vocals), Matt Goldberg (keys), Josh Miller (bass, vocals), Stu Crair (drums, vocals).
Dead Floyd is the Weekend Warrior of bands. Members work hard in their other careers during the week and save the weekends for tours. Drummer Stu Crair, who is the founder of Digital Workshop Center, says,
“We all have you know, full-time other gigs and other bands and other things going on, so it’s tough for us to get away too much if we kind of like it that way, so we definitely choose the quality over quantity thing instead of just touring all the time.”
Dead Floyd is a tribute band merging two of the most popular jam bands. Instead of recreating the music note for note in the original style it was written, Dead Floyd uses the songs as a foundation to create a sound of its own. Stu explains:
“I think we make a point to make it our own, like we had written it. We take the Grateful Dead approach of never really playing a song the same way twice, then sort of plot out the Pink Floyd. I think we do the songs… as good justice as we can and then we make it our own. Because we’re a four-piece, we honestly sound more like Phish probably, and we are all big fans of Phish. We sound more like them regarding the actual instrumentation.”
Stu has jazz improv drumming roots, and the thing that keeps him playing in Dead Floyd is the ability to create live riffs on stage at the moment. “To me, the only reason I keep going is that of the improv parts,” Stu says. “That is truly the part that is just ours. The music is like a vehicle; it gets you to a point, then you can go off. It is live improvisational creativity and playing a song which I love, which are things I grew up with, from some of my favorite bands of all time.”
That is how they started. Floyd wanted to get together and jam some of their favorite songs and have a perfect time playing music. Stu says, “it was my idea that was born out of boredom or frustration. My other group, The Grippe, was ending. Me and Charlie guitar player didn’t have any other projects at that time. We started the project as a one night for a fun gig. We booked a gig at the Old Vault (Now High Pointe). We did minimal advertising and just kind of told our friends. I started rounding up people to be players. It was intended to be a monsters-of-rock-style show playing the greatest hit classics of all of our favorite bands. Josh Miller, the bass player, was like, yeah, I pretty much have every Pink Floyd (song) memorized, and Charlie said, I have all the Dead’s songs memorized, so that was where they started.”
They practiced the catalog of music, and at the first performance, people were lined up down the block to see this new tribute band. Success didn’t escape them. After that, they packed out the Aggie and consistently sold out every gig they booked. They had an immediate following and realized what a unique thing they formed.
Dead Floyd plays maybe 30-40 shows a year. The Mishawaka is a highlight for some of their devoted followers. The band brings happiness to their fans at their show. The one thing everyone has in common is the smile on their faces.