In response to Tennessee’s recent drag ban, Bertha, the world’s first Grateful Dead drag tribute band, has announced a charity concert benefiting Inclusion TN, a nonprofit dedicated to providing resources, services, and opportunities for the LGBTQ+ community. Set to take place on April 29th at Dee’s Country Cocktail Lounge, the show will be hosted by Nashville’s favorite country queen, Marlene Twitty-Fargo, and featured special mystery guests.
Described as a Grateful Drag band fronted by a harmony trio of Berthas backed by an all-Bertha band, Bertha is an all-star collective of femme, queer, and allied East Nashville talent coming together in wigs and full face for a good cause. The band will come together for a celebration of unity, inclusiveness, and the Grateful Dead where the group will challenge the state’s controversial drag ban, which prohibits “adult cabaret performance” in front of children throughout the state. The show poster quotes the Grateful Dead lyric, “Test me, test me,” from the band’s namesake song, “Bertha”, implying the next line, “Why don’t you arrest me?” though if children are excluded from the event, there should be no real risk of arrest.
Included in the event description is the mythological origin story of Bertha:
In the mid 1990’s, just after Jerry Garcia’s tragic and untimely demise, a deadhead janitor working at Area 51 gained access to top secret time travel technology and took it upon himself to retrieve Jerry’s severed middle finger at the moment he lost it in 1946. He thought, if he could just get the DNA to the right scientists, cloning technology might one day be able to bring Jerry back. Breakthroughs in the early 2000’s found that a compound in LSD could activate dormant genes to replicate sufficiently to grow a functioning human body in a lab. The theory was: if they could mix Jerry’s DNA with the original Owsley acid, it could create a Jerry clone that would reunite the Grateful Dead to continue their “long strange trip”. Unfortunately, they mixed up the vials and the first seven clones were the bastard children of Jerry’s finger DNA and the infamous Brown Acid. These pitiful yet beautiful creatures were musical mutants, with the chops of their father but a physical form yet unseen in the jam band world – that of a woman. After being cast out of the lab, and the experiment shut down as a failure, these orphan queens each took the name BERTHA in solidarity with one another and formed a band.
For more information about Bertha’s Inclusion TN benefit concert, head here. For more on Inclusion TN, click here.