Still truckin’: Aiko celebrates 40 years of music in Park City

PARK CITY, Utah — While America celebrates its birthday, local band Aiko  will be celebrating right along with it for its 40th birthday at the Canyons Village in Park City.

Known for their Grateful Dead tribute performances, Aiko (pronounced i-ko as in the song Iko Iko) is marking this milestone with special concerts in July, including the 4th of July show and a special performance at the Marquis on July 6, featuring notable musical guests.

Aiko’s roots trace back to 1984 when four Vanderbilt University students in Nashville, Tennessee, united by their love for the Grateful Dead, formed the band. “We started in 1984 and we were all musicians, and we came together and started this little band, and we were playing all over Nashville and fraternity houses, block parties and things like that,” said Ben Anderson, the band’s bass guitarist and singer.

Originally, the members thought their journey would end after graduation. However, their popularity grew as they began playing homecomings, weddings and anniversaries.

“Being a band in 1984 in Nashville and playing the Grateful Dead, we were pretty unique in that regard. And now you see that 40 years on, the Grateful Dead are bigger than ever through Dead and Co. and through all the various bands that play their music,” Anderson added.

Aiko back when they first began in the 1980's.
Aiko back when they first began in the 1980’s. Photo: Aiko.

Aiko’s dedication to honoring the Grateful Dead’s legacy has never wavered. “Their music and the culture in the community, and the creativity they showed; none of their songs were ever played the same way twice, none of their shows were ever the same. Every tour, every decade, was constantly evolving and they were challenging themselves,” Anderson noted.

Reflecting on their four-decade journey, Anderson shared that even though the band has navigated life’s ups and downs, including graduations, divorces, and time spent in and out of recovery, their goal has remained the same.

“We still want to honor and celebrate the music and the culture of the Grateful Dead. That’s how it started 40 years ago, and it just continued to evolve,” he said. “As long as people keep coming, we’re going to keep playing.”

To celebrate their 40th anniversary, Aiko will headline the July 4 show at the Forum Fest at Canyons Village, and perform on the new stage at the new amphitheater. They will be joined by a lineup of distinguished musicians, including Eric Krasno, Anders Osborne and Jason Hahn. Additionally, a top-tier horn section will accompany them.

“We’ll have all the aforementioned fans and some of these other guests join us. So, it’s going to be a great celebration of the fact that we’re all still standing,” Anderson shared.

The festivities will continue on July 6 at the newly reopened Marquis on Main Street. The opening act will be Stanton Moore from Galactic, alongside Will Blades and Eric Krasno.

“That Saturday night show is going to be a mind blower,” Anderson said, urging people to get to The Marquis early. “Do yourself a favor and get there for that show, they’ll open up, and then Aiko will play.”

With friends flying in from across the country, many of whom have been with the band since their first show in 1984, Anderson is eager to celebrate.

“If we still have hair, it’s gray, we have wrinkles, we’ve got all the great things that life physically may lead to,” he said. “But, we’re here and we’re present, and we’re going to just celebrate the fact that we are all still together, and we’re still doing this thing.”

As Aiko prepares for their anniversary concerts, the band looks forward to celebrating with fans old and new, continuing the legacy of the Grateful Dead, and inspiring the next generation of musicians and enthusiasts.

“Take care of yourself, and you’ll still be alive to play music into your fifth decade with your band,” Anderson reflected.

The July 4 show at Canyons Village is free for the first 4,000 in the door. The music starts at 4 p.m. with Aiko taking the stage from 8-10 p.m. for more information visit the Canyons Village website. The July 6 show at the Marquis will open its doors a 7 p.m., and tickets will start at $29.50. To buy tickets, visit The Marquis website.

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