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How Legal Tech 2016 Became a Grateful Dead Jam Session

Feb. 2, 2016, 2:19 PM

As lawyers, e-Discovery specialists and other professionals pour into New York City for the legal technology industry’s biggest annual conference, aptly named Legal Tech, John Tredennick, CEO of the e-Discovery software company Catalyst Repository Systems, has been thinking about the drums.

On Tuesday night, he takes the stage of the Grand Ballroom at the Hilton Hotel and plays a solid set of Grateful Dead cover songs.

“I work my ass off on the drums,” Tredennick explained, adding he has an electronic set at home that he can rock out on with headphones.

His passion for percussion only partially explains how this year’s Legal Tech conference turned into a miniature lalapalooza music festival that will feature nightly performances by an array of distinguished musicians including one from the Blues Hall of Fame, a saxophone player formerly associated with the star reggae outfit Toots & the Maytals and a Grateful Dead cover band that has a rhythm guitarist who’s a dead ringer for Bob Weir. The entire event is sprinkled with other musical performances.

“Lance Doss was probably the first person to start bringing music to Legal Tech,” said Tom Barnett, special counsel for e-Discovery and data science at Paul Hastings.

Doss, a long time legal recruiter at Links Partners with a focus on e-Discovery, provides vocals and guitar for the Sidney Green Street Band, which was inducted into the Blues Hall of Fame last year (an event captured on video here .)

“That’s probably his first love,” said Barnett. “When we play, we’re not like a bunch of e-Discovery people.”

For Tredennick, however, music is only one of his passions, which also include horse jumping. A former Holland & Hart litigation partner, he founded Catalyst in 2000 and now is thoroughly immersed in growing the company, which has over 100 employees and data centers in the U.S. and Japan.

“For me, it’s just a chance to play,” he said.

Tredennick counts the Beatles, Jimi Hendrix and Frank Zappa among his rock icons. Doss let him sit in on drums when he played Legal Tech, but he yearned to be on stage longer.

“I said, ‘Dammit, I want to play the whole night, and I want to play some of the songs I love,’ because Lance is really into the Lynrd Skynrd/Delbert McClintock,” said Tredennick.

He wound up talking to Catalyst’s head of sales in Philadelphia, Lou Verrelli, who plays keyboard, and had connections to the Grateful Dead cover band, Splintered Sunlight. Last year, Tredennick arranged to play drums onstage with the group, and this year there will be a reprise on Tuesday night in the Grand Ballroom.

“I think we might see, well bigger numbers,” in the audience, this year, he said.

Last year’s performance of Grateful Dead classic “Shakedown Street” can be found on youtube. This year’s set list is under tight wraps, however.

(UPDATED: This post has been corrected to cite Splintered Sunlight as the name of the cover band.)