Interview: Dead & Co. Touring Team Rep Lizzy Lightnin

Liz Ashley, better known as “Lizzy Lightnin” or “Tour Mama” was HeadCount’s touring team representative on Dead and Company tour this summer. Lizzy has been touring for half of her life, including going on Ratdog tour in 2008 and Furthur tour in 2012 with HeadCount. Lizzy’s tour knowledge and overall love for the Grateful Dead was a huge asset to the success of Participation Row this summer.

Headcount: Tell us a little about yourself and the tour you are on.        

Lizzy: I’ve been on tour since I was 18 years old. I’m from outside of Chicago and I’m out doing Dead and Company tour this summer.

We know that you’re referred to as Lizzy Lightning but for those that might not know, tell us how and when you got the name Lizzy Lightning.

Well it’s because when we were on Ratdog Tour back in the day, it must have been back in at least 2002 or 2003, [after] the first time they played Lazy Lightning, [someone called me] Lizzy Lightning and it stuck.

In general, what has this tour been like?

It has been awesome. Participation Row is huge and drawing so many more people than what we would normally get. Everyone’s getting active with the non-profits, not just headcount but Reverb and Clean Energy Advisors with the solar energy. Participation Row has just really drawn more people into the booth.

You’ve been touring with Bob Weir and members of the Grateful Dead for many years, so what motivates you to stay on the road?

It’s a lifestyle. It’s what I really, really love to do. Doing HeadCount lets me give back. The Dead community is my community so touring with HeadCount lets me give back and better them.

How does touring with HeadCount differ from touring on your own?

Well, It’s a lot more work and I get to see less music obviously, but it’s much more rewarding that I get to do this for my family out here.

How would you describe the vibe out there and what are people saying when you ask them to register?

It’s back and forth. It’s positive and negative. A lot of people are excited about what’s going on, and a lot people are frustrated with what’s going on with the election. It’s a mix, but everybody is really interested in making sure their info is up to date so that they are ready to vote in the presidential election.

Always good vibes with the Grateful Dead, right?

Yes definitely. Everyone loves Participation Row.

What’s your favorite thing about touring with HeadCount?

My favorite thing about touring with HeadCount is probably meeting all the people from city to city. Also seeing all the old volunteers and old Team Leaders that I’ve known for years and being able to catch up with them.

What is your favorite memory from this tour?

Seeing my baby brother dance at the Alpine Valley show. I started taking him on tour when he was 12, and he’s 24 now. He came up to the show and I look over and he’s dancing away on the pavilion. It was a moment where I felt like I had done real good.