Paradise is Waiting

By Lidsey Woods, Contributing Writer

The Grateful Dead cover band Paradise Waits can be found backstage doing a sound check on any given Wednesday night. Jim Boukas and Mark Hague play a few riffs on their guitars and test the microphones. Mike Schroeder pounds on the drums, testing out the acoustics of the familiar room while Eric Rickerson plucks his bass.

Boukas founded Paradise Waits, the self-described “original jam band with some Grateful Dead and Phish thrown in,” in October 2005. After being kicked out of his old band, he searched the local music scene for other players with similar interests to create a new band.

Along with its weekly residency at Kinetic Playground, 1113 W. Lawrence Ave., for “Grateful Dead Wednesday,” the band plans to tour this summer.

Boukas and Schroeder took a break from their sound check to chat with The Chronicle about their love for the Grateful Dead and their other surprising musical influences.

The Chronicle: What drew you to the Grateful Dead’s music style?

Mike Schroeder: You could say it’s sort of a feeling you get. Energy is transferred between the musician and the audience. I think a lot of people realize that, and it makes everything more enjoyable.

Jim Boukas: You get a strong sense of the community with the friends we have when we come to Kinetic. Something happens when you get a group of “Deadheads” together. Everybody’s heard this music so many times and enjoyed it with each other so many times. There’s just this intangible kind of electricity in the air. It’s an

adrenaline rush.

The Chronicle: Who are some of your influences besides the Grateful Dead?

JB: I actually grew up on country, but when I got into my second half of high school, I started listening to harder stuff. I dyed my hair black and started listening to Nine Inch Nails and Type O Negative. So I really came out of a weird, much harder

musical atmosphere.

MS: The first three drummers I tried to emulate were John Bonham [of Led Zeppelin], Dewey Martin [of Buffalo Springfield] and Stanton Moore [of Galactic].

The Chronicle: How long have you been together as a band?

JB: I started the band out of revenge for my last band that kicked me out [laughs]. It was fairly unsuccessful for about a year. Even getting people to want to play in a new band was hard.

The Chronicle: Besides your weekly shows at Kinetic Playground, where else do you perform?

JB: We’re getting ready to do our summer tour. We’re going to be doing a few festivals over the summer time. Before last summer, we had something like 30 gigs on the books throughout a period of four months. Then this Kinetic thing just picked up and became so successful that the weekend gigs sort of became a letdown.

The Chronicle: Is this your full-time job?

JB: Yeah, Paradise Waits supplies about 30 to 40 percent of my income. I’m a full-time musician. I own and operate a public address system, I give guitar lessons and occasionally play with another band. I think pretty much everybody in the band is ready to take it all the way if it continues to be successful.

The Chronicle: What is the meaning behind the name Paradise Waits?

JB: It’s actually from a Grateful Dead song. It’s the first line of “Help on the Way.” One of the things I like about Grateful Dead music is it’s very optimistic.

MS: That there’s a paradise waiting for us all.

JB: Yeah, I think it’s a metaphor for the general goodwill of the people who enjoy this music and the musicians that we work with. Similar to the song “Touch of Grey” that the Dead had, saying, “I will get by.” It’s a very optimistic approach to life. That’s how the community of bands look at it, I think. It’s very supportive and always friendly.

For more information about Paradise Waits and upcoming tour dates, visit