Harry Reid and Speaker Pelosi Raise the Dead
Hey, Deadheads, this one's for you. We just found out that two of the most famous rock 'n rollers for Barack Obama skipped the madness in Chicago's Grant Park on election night and instead joined House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid at their (more subdued) bash in Washington.
Grateful Dead bassist Phil Lesh and guitarist Bob Weir mingled so well in the cavernous ballroom at the Hyatt Regency they were barely noticed. Lesh and his wife and son, and Weir and his wife opted for - of all the election night watch parties out there - the one held by the Democratic leadership and their party's House and Senate campaign committees.
Reid isn't nearly the Deadhead Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) is - few are - but he digs the Dead and knows Bob, Phil and drummer Mickey Hart, with whom the majority leader goes way back. So he was thrilled to see them Tuesday night, Reid spokesman Jim Manley tells us.
Manley says Reid asked Bob and Phil where Mickey was, so Lesh whipped out his cell phone, dialed Mickey - who was in California - and handed the phone to the majority leader. Reid got voice mail so he left him a "classic Reid" message. (We can only assume that may have involved cursing Hart out for not picking up the phone personally.)
Reid and Hart became fast friends in 1991. In fact, during a stop in Vegas recently, the drummer said he credits Reid with getting his music therapy project off the ground. Reid apparently helped him get $1 million federal seed money. ("Harry is a visionary," Hart reportedly said.)
The Dead have been big supporters of President-elect Obama. They did a concert fundraiser for him last spring and a get-out-the-vote show last month at Penn State.
So we were surprised they didn't go to Chicago for election night. Though, understandably, Washington was an easier trip to make since Lesh's band, Lesh & Friends, are playing through Nov. 18 at the Nokia Theater in New York City.
After walking off the stage at the Hyatt Tuesday, Pelosi (who represents San Francisco and has obvious ties to the legendary Bay Area band) and Reid chatted with Weir and Lesh in the holding room.
But the legendary band members' biggest fan of all was too awestruck to speak to them. That would be Manley, Reid's spokesman, who has been to countless Dead shows and owns a much-coveted Dead music collection.
"An absolutely wonderful and surreal night got even stranger when I had a chance to meet two of my longtime heroes," Manley tells us.
Mary Ann Akers
November 6, 2008; 2:02 PM ET
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