Bob's Life after The Dead
From The Sun News:
Life after The Dead
By Kristi Singer
For The Sun News
When Grateful Dead founding member Bob Weir performs, every show is a new experience.
With a catalog of 150 tunes to choose from and a talent for improvisation - mixing things up and keeping each show unique, is natural.
"We just rotate those [songs]," Weir, who serves as vocalist/guitarist for his Dead spin-off band RatDog, said during a phone interview from his home near San Francisco, Calif.
"Some of them come around once a week, some of them come around once every two or three weeks and that keeps stuff fresh. Every show is completely different. When a given tune comes up in rotation - it's gonna be your last crack at that tune for a while, so you give it all you've got," Weir said.
Weir brings RatDog with special guest Bela Fleck & the Flecktones to the House of Blues, North Myrtle Beach, for a gig tonight.
RatDog's sets typically cover Grateful Dead classics such as "Standing on the Moon," "St. Stephen," "Terrapin" and "Touch of Grey," as well as Weir's solo blues, including "Good Morning Little Schoolgirl."
"We do a mixture," Weir said.
RatDog released its first studio album "Evening Moods" in 2000 on Arista Records, which included tracks "Odessa," "Bury Me Standing," "Two Djinn" and "Ashes and Glass." After releasing "Live at Roseland," a double-disc CD from a Portland, Ore. show, RatDog began offering a live-CD series, making many performances available on CD and as exclusive downloads on the online music store MunckMusic.
Weir's last release was in 2004 with the Hybrid Recordings "Weir Here," a two-CD career retrospective.
Weir can't say for certain if or when he'll release another album.
"At this point we have some material but I'm starting to wonder if we're ever going to put out another record as opposed to just doing online offerings," Weir said.
"Doing downloads seems like a whole lot less trouble and a whole lot less plastic. That way you don't have to arbitrarily put together 10 or 12 songs that may or may not have any relationship to each other, in need to fill a piece of plastic. I think that's sort of an arbitrary constraint that we don't need," he said.
Weir created RatDog with bassist Rob Wasserman following the 1995 death of Dead co-founder Jerry Garcia.
While Wasserman is no longer with the band, RatDog has steadily become Weir's main focus in addition to his taking over as bandleader for The Dead when the band tours.
"We'll be playing again," Weir said of the remaining members of The Dead.
"There was some talk about this summer but it didn't pull together so maybe next summer," he said.
Some local Deadheads are pleased that Weir is playing in their own backyard.
"We're always excited when one of the various versions of The Dead get out on the road," Scott Mann, Wave 104.1 assistant program and music director and host of Sunday night jam band program "The Head Shop," said Tuesday.
The Head Shop recently celebrated its third anniversary.
"When The Dead toured in '04 I had to drive to Charlotte and Raleigh. To see Bobby come right to town, it's very nice. The willingness to drive hours is always there - but just to drive to North Myrtle Beach is much nicer," Mann said.
Mann, like most true Dead fans, has seen the band perform on numerous occasions.
"Given the chance, I'm there," the self-proclaimed Deadhead said.
To be more specific, Mann has seen The Grateful Dead with Jerry Garcia eight times, The Jerry Garcia Band twice, RatDog four or five times and other Dead incarnations countless times through the years.
The driving force behind Deadheads traveling to see numerous shows is the fact that they're all different, thanks to the musicians' improvisational style.
"It's a matter of looking at things freshly each time you look at them, a matter of openness," Weir explains.
"That's where the best art comes from. Really, it's where all real art comes from and that's what I want to be remembered for. If I have anything to give the world, it's that approach, that openness," Weir said.
And will Mann be checking out tonight's gig?
"Absolutely, I wouldn't miss it," Mann said. "Every time I've seen him [Weir], he's done mostly Grateful Dead songs with a few from his solo albums with the odd cover here and there. Every time I've seen RatDog, they were better than the last."
If you go
What RatDog with Bela Fleck & The Flecktones
When 7 tonight
Where House of Blues, 4640 U.S. 17, Barefoot Landing, North Myrtle Beach
How much $37.50
272-3000 or http://www.hob.com/