IN THE BEGINNING: The mystery of just who was behind those far-out tunes that kept the crowds groovin’ during Fare Thee Well’s intermissions has been revealed. Circles Around the Sun, a band convened by guitarist Neal Casal, formed specifically to record just for those shows and the results were so right on and the audience reaction so overwhelmingly positive, the group decided to give the music a proper release. The project began when Neal was asked by video director Justin Kreutzmann to compose and record more than 5 hours of original music to be played along with the visuals Kreutzmann was preparing for the Fare Thee Well intermissions. “The idea was to not only show reverence for the past but to in reality, move it forward. Just like the music of the Grateful Dead. Neal was originally joined in the studio by keyboardist Adam MacDougall, a fellow member of Chris Robinson’s Brotherhood and Phil Lesh’s Friends. The balance of the then CATS consists of bassist Dan Horne (Beachwood Sparks, Jonathan Wilson) and drummer Mark Levy (The Congress). Here we are in 2022 and a lot has changed for the group. We lost Neal, but not the music.
I had the chance to catch up with Mark Levy to get into the March 26th event of Circles Around The Sun w/Mikaela Davis at the High Noon Saloon in Madison. While Mark was out on a quick vacation before happily getting back out on the road – we chatted about what to expect if you don’t know this group or its music, a new live record that’s oh so hot and an even brandier newer album with Mikaela Davis. We talk about all the newness – but spend most of our time talking about our mutual pal, Neal. The legacy continues as promised – the memories strong as the real ones remain and we still get to feel ‘it’ as the circle keeps spinning.