This weekend, guitarist, singer-songwriter and producer Papa Mali will host a special New Orleans tribute to late poet and Grateful Dead lyricist Robert Hunter, who passed away last month at the age of 78.
The event, which will see Papa Mali teaming up with a to-be-announced group of collaborators, is set for this Saturday, Oct. 12, at Chickie Wah Wah. More information on the show can be at the venue’s website.
Along with announcing the show, Mali shared a note about the passing of Hunter, beginning by saying how hard it was for him to form any words about his former collaborator since his death.
“Every time I would go on social media to say something, I just couldn’t. It somehow felt too trivial a platform, too personal and profound a loss,” he writes. “I’m at an age where I expect to lose friends, but this one, coming within days of two other friends dying, was harder than most. Hunter was a rare and unexpected friend. He shared his most personal, precious gift with me – his exquisite words. He trusted me to put music to his stories and together, we created some beautiful and magical songs.”
Mali goes on to note his connection with Hunter through Grateful Dead drummer Bill Kreutzmann, with whom Mali collaborated in 7 Walkers with Meters bassist George Porter Jr. and multi-instrumentalist Matt Hubbard.
“When Hunter heard the demo of the first one we collaborated on, ‘King Cotton Blues,’ he emailed Billy: ‘Looks like with Papa, we may have found the magic again, old friend.’ My heart soared!” Mali continues. “Many more lyrics followed and I tried my best to keep up with his prolific pen, by providing the chords and melodies, to bring the songs to fruition. The gravitas and sacred nature of my task, was always shining like a jewel, in my mind and in my heart.”
Read the full note below, and listen to 7 Walkers’ “King Cotton Blues.”