Circles Around The Sun
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About Circles Around The Sun
Circles Around the Sun is a contemporary instrumental rock "jam" band that formed with the specific purpose of creating intermission music for Fare Thee Well, a series of reunion concerts played by the surviving members of the Grateful Dead during their 2015 tour. Those shows celebrated the band's 50th anniversary and served as their official send-off and were supposed to reflect the legendary band's spacy yet grooving overall feel. After the tour, they issued a self-titled album of the music from those gigs and supported it with their own road trip. The response was so positive it warranted staying together as a going concern; they released Let It Wander in 2018, which was less influenced by the Dead and more by freeform, delivering on the roots influence of jazz-funk, soul, and fusion.
Video director Justin Kreutzmann (son of GD drummer Bill) approached guitarist/composer Neal Casal (Ryan Adams' Cardinals, Chris Robinson Brotherhood, Phil Lesh & Friends) about creating five hours of music to accompany his biographical visuals to be shown during the Fare Three Well concert intermissions. Casal enlisted keyboardist Adam MacDougall (a fellow member of the Robinson Brotherhood and Lesh's Friends bands), bassist Dan Horne (Beachwood Sparks, Jonathan Wilson), and drummer Mark Levy (the Congress). Casal explained that "...the idea was to not only show reverence for the past but to ultimately move it forward," adding "If there's anything to be learned from the Grateful Dead, it is to dissolve your boundaries, push your limits, and discover your own voice in this world."
To that end, this new band entered the studio without having prepared any material. They composed on the spot and recorded live for two days with engineer J.P. Hesser. They kept the process pure by not adding anything during post-production. While most involved with the project assumed these sessions would just end up as background music that concertgoers would pay little attention to, they were wrong. The response by attendees was so positive that Rhino Records decided to issue a proper release. A two-disc set culled from the original five hours of music was released independently as Interludes for the Dead in late November 2015. The complete recordings were made available in a triple-disc set included inside the Dead's mammoth 19-disc (audio and video) box set document of the complete run of shows entitled, appropriately, Fare Thee Well. In the aftermath, rather than splitting and going their own way, the quartet played a series of shows that were well attended and received, while response to the album was also positive. They returned to Castaway 7 Studios in Ventura, California in early 2018 for two weeks, this time with no set goal or structure in mind. They recorded seven instrumentals that diverged sharply from the content on their debut offering, and released it as the double-length album Let It Wander in August with music that ranged in scope from jazz fusion ("The Impossible") to wrangling funk ("One for Chuck" -- as in Public Enemy's Chuck D) and beyond. ~ Thom Jurek