Sunday, April 01, 2007

25% of Vualt Missing!

hee hee
I haven't been able to find out the whole story yet, but it appears that at least 25% of the Vault is missing...or "mis-placed," depending on the story.

Most of you know that the Vault was moved to Burbank last year after Rhino took over responsibility for running the business side of the Grateful Dead.
"The Dead all started individual endeavors," said Mr. Edwards of Rhino, "and they needed a partner to provide infrastructure." Part of the arrangement said: "Under the landmark license agreement, Rhino assumes the primary responsibility for the full range of Grateful Dead assets, recorded and otherwise, including the vast archive of unreleased live concert recordings, the band's official website (, all related direct-to-consumer and merchandise businesses, the growing variety of digital initiatives, and select band-related name and likeness licensing."
That meant moving the vault. In August, the Marin Independent Journal reported on the transfer:

"The musical legacy of the Grateful Dead - some 13,000 live audio and video recordings spanning the band's 30-year concert career - left Marin County in a temperature-controlled truck and is now being stored in a huge Warner Brothers Music vault in Southern California.

The transfer of the priceless 'vault' recordings - from a Novato warehouse to a Fort Knox-like facility in Burbank - is a physical manifestation of a milestone deal that effectively dissolves Marin-based Grateful Dead Productions and turns over the Hall of Fame band's business operations to Rhino Entertainment, a subsidiary of giant Warner Music Group."

Ironically, the article then quoted Grateful Dead Archivist David Lemieux saying "It's sad to see it go...but it couldn't be in better hands."

This wasn't the first time the Vault was moved and, last time, Lemieux was in charge of the transfer. "About two years ago, we had to move The Vault. It meant going from 2,400 square feet of space, which was sizable, about 60 by 40 and then we went down to 18 by 40" said David Lemieux in a 2005 interview. The Archivist went on to explian how choices were made on what to store:

"At that point, I really had to make some decisions. Obviously, I wasn't going to get rid of any Grateful Dead. It's their Vault. I realized Mickey had about a 1/6 of the entire 2,400 feet. I talked to the band and the CEO and the decision was made that each band member would take responsibility for their own stuff. Phil doesn't have a lot of stuff, but what he has is very safe. Mickey has built himself a vault. Terrific little place. Bobby has his in a specialized facility. Hunter same thing. Garcia [estate] has theirs in a very specialized facility. What we do get is The Dead, all the audiotape they do for the CDs they sell, the hard drives, the videotapes. They pull video off the big screens. All that ends up in the Vault."

Parts of the vault have been lost and recovered before. Dick's Picks 35 was nicknamed "The Houseboat Tapes" because the material came from some tapes found on the Houseboats owned by Grateful Dead keyboardist Keith Godchaux's parents.
"Tapes from the shows were assumed to have been long lost. No soundboard recordings existed, either in the band's vault or among fans. Then family members of the former Dead keyboard player Keith Godchaux were cleaning out the family's old houseboat and found a box of tapes. Inside were original soundboard recordings given to Godchaux by Jerry Garcia as a way for the new band member to learn the music" reported the Associated Press. The tapes were a giant 1971 gap that, before then, the Dead had accepted as lost.

Some of the most popularly traded Grateful Dead concert tapes are called "Betty Boards" by traders. They are called this because the tapes were recorded off the Soundboad by Betty Cantor-Jackson. Most of these found their way into circulation when autioned to the public by a storage company.

So there is hope the tapes will surface. What exactly is missing is unknown. Archivist David Lemieux has not replied to emails inquiring about the Vault. Rhino is not responding to queries either.

The message board over at has a couple posts from Brewster Kahle in which he acknowledges that he's been contacted by Rhino about possibly providing them with copies of a few of the missing shows. They have not indicated which shows these would be. And, if they are wanting SBDs, they might have some trouble. "They didn't want to have them, and now Archive their best hope!" pointed out an anonymous poster.

Monday, March 26, 2007

Hard Truckers Update

Here's the latest from our friends @ Hard Truckers.

“The Isolator” by Brian Brown.
Find potential problems in your rig BEFORE they happen.
Most electronic problems start with symptoms. Oxidation, faulty wires, power supply problems, bad tubes and the like create dirty signal problems and impurities in your guitar signal. The guitar signal in its natural state is a small fragile signal. Pure Tone is achieved thru a Pure Signal Path. A Cleaner Signal equals a fuller richer tone and better sustain at low volumes. 100% Reliability in your gear show after show is a beautiful thing.

Also new from Brian: Stereo (TRS) Guitar and Instrument Cable and Heavy-duty 12 Gauge Speaker Cable, the fire hose that Brian recommends for amp to cabinet connections.

Celestion Gold Speakers, a 50 watt 12” alnico speaker that we found in our testing to have a fabulous low end, with bell like glassy highs. Smooth, yet not overbearing. The Gold’s are perfect for single coil rhythm players who love the second and fourth pick-up position of the strat. A great choice for the Bob Weir style player.

Jensen Jet Speakers – Jensen’s “Blackbird”, of Jet Series is a 100-watt 12” Alnico speaker that is also now available in all Hard Truckers Speaker Cabinets. Described during testing as the powerfully perfect rock-n-roll speaker. Ballsy Marshall 4x12 tones with great sustain. Les Paul blues-rock and Duane Allman fans are sure to like this warm, full spectrum, beast of a speaker.

Both Celestion Gold’s and Jensen Jet’s Speakers are available in all Hard Truckers speaker cabinets at the same listed prices, simply state; “Celestion GOLD’s” or “Jensen JET’s in the notes section upon checkout. Two more High-End options for the Hard Truckers classic cabinets. As always please call or email for more details.

Road Cases: Insurance for your investment. Wheel in, pop the top, and plug-and-play. Protect your Hard Truckers cabinet with a custom high quality road case. No need to trust your unprotected gear with the local crew. Single and Double Cabinet Models are available. ATA approved and made for the road.

“The Hard Truckers Custom Shop” is now open. Purchase a Classic Hard Truckers Cabinet not normally kept in stock; the JG-3 “THE” vertical Baltic Birch 3 x12” cabinet, the JG-4 “THE” vertical Baltic Birch 4x12” cabinet, the BW-1 a single Hemp 1x12” cabinet and the JW-1 a mini Baltic Birch 1x4” cabinet. Email us at for more details or to have your custom cabinet built.

Tee Shirts - Super comfy, organic cotton long sleeve and short sleeve t-shirts are now available online.

Grill Covers – Our gorgeous gals keep churning out amazing grill covers and now they are retrofitting combo amps and heads with their one-of-a-kind artwork. Contact them at and for more details on their custom work.

Be sure to - Check our flickr photos page regularly for a preview of cabinets, new grill covers and assorted road gear before they are formally released.

Guitar cables (see article
@ their website) and organic cotton T-Shirts! And, we now offer Empty Cabinets. Load a Classic Hard Truckers cabinet with the speakers of your choice. Custom Screenprinted grill screens are now available. Put your full-color art on your cabinet. Contact us at for more details.

New Artists — Jimmy Herring of Widespread Panic, Rob Eaton of Dark Star Orchestra, Ed Rollins of Collective Soul, Ted Norton of the Grapes and Bob Stirner of Boris Garcia.

Coming in March — Hard Truckers Custom Shop, featuring 1x12, 3x12 and 4x12 custom cabinets. Also we'll have two new products from Brian Brown: the Isolator™ and the A/B box that Trey Anastasio swears by (not at).

Grill Covers - Our girls (Samantha and Erin) have been experimenting with replacing Stock Combo Amp Grill Covers with their Tie Dye and Batik works of art and the results have been spectacular. The girls can now do custom jobs just for you on your combo amps or heads. They have come up with a six step process to transform your amp into a one-of-a-kind custom amp. You choose the grill fabric and they will meticulously attach it to your amp. Email them at or for more info.

SLC Library Boy will not turn down donations of any Hard Truckers products! ;^D

Donna Jean "still Grateful" to be Singing

Pic from Southern Connecticut Newspapers, Inc

Big thanks to Jeff Pardo for alerting me to this story. I'm still playing catch-up so this post comes after the 3/23 show it promotes, but it's still a good read.

From The Advocate:

Donna Jean still Grateful to be playing music
By Ray Hogan
Staff Writer

Donna Jean is on the stage of the Beacon Theater with Bob Weir singing "One More Saturday Night" on, not surprisingly, a Saturday night.

It's not archival footage of The Grateful Dead in the 1970s. It was two weeks ago with Weir's band, Ratdog.

Donna Jean MacKay (known during her decade with the Dead as Donna Jean Godchaux) is in the midst of her most publicly musically creative period since she and her late husband, Keith Godchaux, left the iconic rock band more than 25 years ago.

MacKay has teamed with The Zen Tricksters (who, in addition to creating their own music, were regarded as among the tristate area's best interpreters of Grateful Dead music for two decades), Mookie Siegel and Wendy Lanter in Donna Jean and the Tricksters - recently changed from Kettle Joe's Psychedelic Swamp Revue.

The band plays The Acoustic Cafe in Bridgeport tomorrow.

MacKay wasn't looking to put a band together when she first played with The Zen Tricksters last year. But she felt a bond during the rehearsal period for that maiden voyage, which was a benefit for The Rex Foundation, the Grateful Dead organization's charitable arm named in memory of roadie Rex Jackson.

"We were starting to kind of hone in on a special feeling that was going on between the Zen Tricksters and myself, both musically and personally. It's so hard to put a band together and here was this band that was already made and was a perfect fit for me."

The group is recording 16 original songs for a future release.

"Everybody in the band is a lead singer. So we have a lot of vocal strength."

With MacKay, The Zen Tricksters (guitarists Jeff Mattson and Tom Circosta, bassist Klyph Black and drummer Dave Diamond) and Siegel (who has played with Phil Lesh and Bob Weir), the ties to extended Grateful Dead family run deep. It isn't a connection the band is running from.

"Garcia and The Grateful Dead introduced improvisational music to all genres outside of jazz. That's why all the jazz musicians love the Grateful Dead. (Before them), everything was pretty much settled as it was going to be played. With the addition of spontaneous improvisational music woven into all of it, the result was the most unique band. They attracted a whole generation of people who were looking for something more in music than they had experienced. I believe this music will continue. The jam-band scene in itself will never go away. There will never be a reason to put music back in a box again."

MacKay was born and now lives in the musical-rich Muscle Shoals area of Alabama. As a singer at Muscle Shoals Sound and Fame studios, she sang on records such as Elvis Presley's "Suspicious Minds" and "In the Ghetto" and Percy Sledge's "When a Man Loves a Woman." A move to San Francisco, where she met and married Godchaux, opened her mind to music's possibilities.

"I changed radically as a singer. The improvisational aspect wasn't in my musical repertoire at all. I got out to California and that was radically changed. I saw The Grateful Dead and thought, 'If I ever sing again, it's going to be with that band.' It introduced a spirituality and was revolutionary to me. It was exactly what I had been wanting, but I didn't know it was what had been missing."

With her husband, Keith, Godchaux spent 1972 to 1979 singing with The Grateful Dead, appearing on albums such as "Shakedown Street," "Blues for Allah" and "Terrapin Station." During the same period, she served as a backup singer in the Jerry Garcia Band. The couple left the band in 1979 (whether they quit or fired depends on who you ask). Keith Godchaux died in a car accident the following year.

Aside from bringing improvisation to a melange of American music styles, The Grateful Dead forever influenced MacKay's view of rock lyrics. Using Robert Hunter and John Barlow as primary lyricists, the Dead's songs helped personalize the Deadhead experience.

"Lyrics to the songs were so deep and transient and nondefinitive. Each person could interpret the lyrics for themselves. It didn't rule anybody out. The music was made available to them in such a personal way."

Like the Dead, Donna Jean and The Tricksters bring an ensemble approach to their playing and singing.

"Nobody is looking to be the big deal. We don't treat it that there is a lead singer and background singer."

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

News Briefs 03/21/07

Apologies to any regular readers who've checked this blog over the last week and a half only to find no new news. I have quite a few excuses (including a couple good ones).

I wasn't even able to post about Phil's birthday last week. : ( Happy Birthday Phil!

And apologies to my fellow net-deadheads who've been working on the "Deadpedia" project. I'll be back at it soon...

And on to the Dead News:

Custom Kids Clothes for a Little Weir

The following quote is from an eMediaWire article about Rachel Culp and her Custom made children's boutique clothing on Ebay:

Natasha Weir, Wife of Grateful Dead Guitarist Bob Weir, had Rachel make her Baby Daughter, who refused to put Pajamas on, a fun and interactive pair of P.J's out of 2 of her favorite cashmere Sweaters, with little flaps and pockets that revealed a Teddy Bear, a Hula Girl, and some Balloons.

Grateful Kids

Speaking of children of the Dead, both Donna Jean and Phil have a musician son with a rock band of his own.

Grahame Lesh

Here's an excerpt from Therin Jones' article about Stanford's Phi Kappa Psi’s “Battle of the Bands”:

When Vice took the stage at ten, little standing room remained in the Phi Psi lounge. Of all the Stanford bands, Vice is distinguished by the unique personal histories of its band members. Guitarist Grahame Lesh is the son of the Grateful Dead’s Phil Lesh, and lead singer Brodie Jenkins had a short-lived country music career with her mom and older sister prior to coming to Stanford. This country background couldn’t be more obvious in Vice’s music. No matter how gritty Jenkins takes her voice, you still can’t help but liken her tone to that of LeAnn Rimes.

Zion Godchaux

Donna Jean’s son Zion is in a band named Boombox. You can read about it over at JamBase.

Formed about three years ago, BoomBox is not your traditional group. It only has two members - a guitar player/vocalist and a DJ - that combine live instruments with multi-track sequencing, turntables, and samplers for a unique brand of infectious music. Zion Godchaux and Russ Randolph came together while working on an album that Zion was collaborating on with his mother, former Grateful Dead member Donna Jean Godchaux. Russ was engineering the record and the two connected immediately.

Read the entire article here

Jerry's Art

Jerry's art sure gets a lot of attention these days. NewWireToday has the latest:

Original Jerry Garcia Paintings the Latest Addition to EIL's Blue Chip Store

NewswireToday - the world's leading provider of rare music & music memorabilia have secured two stunning pieces of original artwork from the legendary Jerry Garcia that they are pleased to offer to the music and art collecting marketplace.

Mike Cambridge’s senior Memorabilia buyer based in Lancashire commented: “These kinds of pieces complete with such amazing provenance are virtually impossible to find, so for us to be able to offer two unique pieces of Garcia artwork to the marketplace is something we are extremely proud of.”

The first piece is an original watercolour titles ‘Purple Rat Dog’. Painted in 1985, it depicts a dog characteristic of the artist’s style and humour. This is one of only 2 known versions, with the other titled simply Purple Dog.

On the reverse of the painting there is a pencil inscription in Jerry's hand detailing 'Purple Rat Dog' #2 1-5 Jerry Garcia 85 w/c, with the 1-5 seeming to indicate that he intended to produce more versions, though only 2 are confirmed at this time.

The second piece painted by Garcia in 1993, shows his unique interpretation of San Francisco & the Golden Gate Bridge backed by a landscape of buildings and watery abstractions in brightly coloured forms outlined in black.

As with the previous piece this also has a pencil inscription on the reverse in Jerry's hand detailing 'Frisco View/J Garcia/For Hedge/A.G.G.A' and signed by Jerry on the lower right front of the painting J Garcia 93.

Both of these fabulous items have been fully authenticated by Garcia’s first and primary art dealer 'The Weir Gallery' and comes complete with their detailed Certificate Of Authenticity with embossed stamp and signed by the director Roberta Weir who is highly regarded in the 'Art World' as the foremost expert and authority on Jerry Garcia.

Mike continued, “Jerry Garcia’s work in his own band and of course the Grateful Dead created his reputation as a superb and versatile musician but he was also a dedicated and prolific visual artist. He created nearly 500 pieces of art between 1985 and 1995 and sold hundreds of his original works.”

All prices & items are correct and available however the rare and limited nature of these items does mean we cannot guarantee their availability after the time of release. All items come with certificates of authenticity & full provenance.

Gone But Not Forgiven

The controversy made #7 in Earvolution’s Top 10 Corporate Moments in Rock:

7. The Grateful Dead Removes Their Soundboards From the Live Music ArchivesInherent to The Grateful Dead's mystique was their willingness to permit their fans to bootleg and trade their live shows. Long before other bands would recognize the benefits to be reaped from the free exchange of live music, The Dead created the model from which they would work. With the advent of the Live Music Archives at, Deadheads entered the digital age, flooding the site with multiple copies of nearly every Dead show ever played; all with the permission and consent of the venerable San Francisco band. The Grateful Dead were not the first band to change their mind about the availability of their shows on the Archives, but their about-face stung their fans the most.

Citing the detrimental effect on present and future archival CD and DVD releases, the Grateful Dead, upon the initiative of Bob Weir, Bill Kreutzmann and Mickey Hart, revoked the consent that permitted the Archives to act as a conduit for the exchange of the Dead's shows, denying fans the opportunity to obtain the music for free so that it could be sold to them in the future. "When the music was given away for free to trade, the band was making so much money touring that the music was not as valuable to them," explained Marc Schiller, who assists the Dead with their online marketing. "Apple iTunes has made digital downloads a business." The Dead underestimated the angry, aggrieved response from their fans: like dire wolves they howled vociferously, adamantly pointing to Jerry Garcia's numerous statements that the music belonged to the fans. Bassist Phil Lesh even chimed in to express his bewilderment over the entire issue. Ultimately, a compromise was reached: fans would still be able to freely download shows recorded by their peers but the better-quality soundboard recordings would remain available as streaming audio only - that is, until the Dead decide to release the show commercially and remove it from circulation.

A Pro Nuclear Energy Merry Prankster

Greenie Watch, at, has an article about Stewart Brand and his “affection” for nuclear power in which it gives this history on Brand:

He divides environmentalists into romantics and scientists, the two cultures he's been straddling and blending since the 1960s. He was with the Merry Pranksters and the Grateful Dead at their famous Trips Festival in San Francisco, directing a multimedia show called 'America Needs Indians.' That's somewhere in the neighborhood of romantic. But he created the shows drawing on the cybernetic theories of Norbert Wiener, the M.I.T. mathematician who applied principles of machines and electrical networks to social institutions.

Losing Jerry

The following quote is from a SeacoastOnline article about movie making in their neighborhood:

Take "Losing Jerry," a film about Jerry Garcia fans, which is scheduled to be shot entirely in New Hampshire -- and will include a finale scene at the Hampton Beach Casino Ballroom.

"Losing Jerry" likely wouldn't be shot here if director Mitch Ganem wasn't from Wolfeboro and producer Mark Constance didn't move to Brentwood from Los Angeles.

Constance is part of small but growing network of filmmakers who are giving a much closer look to the state and the region.

Don't Forget Jerry!

A bunch of Poughkeepsie Journal readers wrote in to defend Jerry.

We ran a story called "Gods of the guitar" Friday, listing such great ax players as Jimi Hendrix, Eric Clapton and Carlos Santana among the best of all time.

We also asked readers to let us know their choices.

Many thoughtful and adamant replies came in. They wanted to know: How could we forget Jerry Garcia?

— Jerry Garcia.
I'll take a quote from Bob Dylan to describe good ole Jer.
"His playing was moody, awesome, sophisticated, hypnotic and subtle.
Bob Geis

— I would think Mark Knoffler and Jerry Garcia would be a must on anyone's list.
Michael Brady
Dutchess County public defender

— I literally can't believe you left out Jerry Garcia. Garcia was perhaps the most witty, accomplished guitarist of his generation. As far as jamming goes, Jerry was the father of all jam bands that have come since, a virtuoso who could weave Miles Davis' "So What" into the middle of a playing of "Dark Star" or "Truckin'. " He played jazz, country, bluegrass, folk and rock all at once, and with the Grateful Dead, created the jam music of today.
Steven Levine

Merlefest 2007

Not only does have the line-up for Merlefest, but a Rhapsody playlist that contains one song by all 47 artists who will be performing this year at Merlefest 2007.

Here's the list, but you'll have to go to for the playlist

Merlefest 2007 Line-Up
1. Tough Luck Man - Doc Watson
2. Alison - Elvis Costello
3. Restless - Alison Krauss
4. In Another World - Donna The Buffalo
5. Out of the Rain - The Duhks
6. Old Train - Tony Rice
7. Fishin’ In The Dark - Nitty Gritty Dirt Band
8. Press On - Robinella
9. Born With A Hammer In My Hand - Blue Highway
10. Girl Of The North Country - Sam Bush
11. Blue Mountain Hop - Bela Fleck
12. High On A Mountain - The Del McCoury Band
13. Let’s Call It A Life - Darrell Scott
14. Devil Woman - Toubab Krewe
15. Been Around - The Waybacks
16. Who Thought The Railroad Wouldn’t Last - Jim Lauderdale
17. Could You Love Me One More Time - The Lonesome Sisters
18. Eight More Miles - Laurie Lewis
19. Mississippi Blues - Roy Bookbinder
20. Shady Grove - Laura Boosinger
21. Miracle - Andy May
22. How Long? - Cherryholmes
23. Changing Lanes - Circuit Riders
24. Red Clay Halo - Nashville Bluegrass Band
25. Flora - Crooked Still
26. That’s What I Like About The South - The Red Stick Ramblers
27. Voyage of the Dunbrody - Jim Ronayne
28. Big Bug Shuffle - Jerry Douglas
29. Foggy Mountain Breakdown - Earl Scruggs
30. Sundown - Pat Flynn
31. Goodbye Bottle Of Whiskey - Steep Canyon Rangers
32. Heal Yourself - Ruthie Foster
33. Minor Swing - Bryan Sutton
34. Diggin’ Uncle Sam’s Backyard - Paul Geremia
35. Arlo Buck - Tut Taylor
36. Sweet Wild Turkey - Mitch Greenhill
37. Maybe It Was Memphis - Pam Tillis
38. I Choose You - Buddy Greene
39. Step It Up And Go - Happy Traum
40. Abilene - George Hamilton IV
41. Warfare - Uncle Earl
42. Push Comes To Shove - John Hammond
43. Your Lone Journey - Ginny Hawker & Tracy Schwarz
44. Now Is The Time - Tony Williamson
45. Bear Tracks - Clint Howard
46. Now Is The Time - Tony Williamson
47. No More To Leave You Behind - The Infamous Stringdusters

One Guy's Story

Rich Shea (who says he’s not a Deadhead) has a great story about his first Dead Show, when he met Jerry and asked if he’d play “Eyes of the World.” Make sure to check it out at his blog.

Grateful Dead Roadie Update

Paul Woods

Here's the story from StarPulse:

Grateful Dead Roadie Is Lawnmower Man Hero
Former Grateful Dead roadie Paul Woods is making headlines in America after embarking on a 3,500-mile trek to claim a home left to him by his late mom - on a lawnmower.

Woods set off on the trip from Alaska to Virginia back in 2005 but his adventure has only just come to light after well-wishers in Utah discovered who the lawnmower man was. Woods is expected to reach the home he has inherited some time in 2009.

A Utah paper has a bigger story and some audio. This is from HJNews:

On ‘a long, strange trip’
By Aaron Falk

Man traveling from Alaska to Virginia on riding mower stops for repairs, movie watching at Beaver Mountain

BEAVER MOUNTAIN — Paul Woods hunches over his broken-down Toro mower, his blue eyes piercing through his soot-covered face. Caked with oil, his rough fingers tinker with the shot brakes that landed him in this ski resort parking lot.

Woods, 44, said he has traveled from Point Barrow, Alaska, and is on his way to Virginia. As the crow flies, the trip covers more than 4,500 miles — a lengthy journey made even longer by the fact that Woods is traveling mostly by lawnmower.

“Literally, it’s been a long, strange trip,” he said.

It’s a fitting analysis from the self-proclaimed “Dead Head” who stopped counting how many Grateful Dead shows he’s seen. At one point, he even acted as a body guard for the band, he said, displaying the green-ink Grateful Dead tattoo he gave himself.

“You’ve got to be pretty strange and pretty weird to be driving a tractor mower across country,” he said.

Woods said he moved from Los Angeles to Alaska to care of his ailing mother. When she died, Woods said his mother left him a house in Virginia — the reason for his journey.

He said he flew from Barrow to Fairbanks, Alaska, and then traveled to Dawson, Alaska, in the back of a pickup truck. Since then, Woods said he has come the rest of the way by mower.

The machine — an old, beige riding mower — sits just inches off the ground. Only three of its five gears work and the mower goes about 15 mph when it isn’t weighed down by the shopping-cart-turned-trailer that holds tools, Doritos and Woods’ traveling companion, a terrier mix named Yoda. Woods said he’s gone through three motors since coming from Alaska.

His wallet, along with his driver’s license, was stolen in a small Oregon town, he said, preventing him from taking an airplane or a train.

“I kind of like driving slow anyway,” he said, “you know, meander across the United States.”

The last couple of weeks, Wood said he stayed in Green Canyon and Logan, working odd jobs for gas money. He planned to drive through Idaho, Montana and South Dakota on his way to Virginia. The detour, detour, he said, is designed to avoid Wyoming.

“I try to avoid long distances when the towns are too far apart,” said Woods, whose mower’s gas tank only holds a quarter of a gallon.

But on his way to Bear Lake, Woods’ brakes went out. He drove into the Beaver Mountain parking lot to make repairs and plug in his one electronic amenity — a portable DVD player — so he could watch the movie “Billy Jack.”

“I’ve spent more time fixing it than driving it,” he said of the mower.

Woods spends most of his nights with his dog in a one-man tent. He dresses in layers, topped by an old black sweatshirt and ski pants. He uses a propane tank to cook his food and heat his engine.

When he drives, he warms his hands on the exhaust from the lawn mower. Still, he said, the cold doesn’t bother him much.

“This is not cold,” he said. “Alaska can be cold. ... You have to wear goggles or your eyeballs will freeze.”

Driving through the windy canyon roads, Woods said conditions can be dangerous.

“I drive as safe as I can even though I’m from California,” he said. “I pull over when I hear them coming. They don’t slow down.”

Woods said he’s not sure how long it will take to reach his destination, and the home willed to him by his mother. But when he gets there, he said, he plans to turn the house into apartments for low-income families and medical students.

“I want to do something with my life that means something,” he said. “When you’re strange, nobody remembers your name.”

click here to listen to Paul Woods talk about his trip


Scooter McGavin blogged about the 2007 Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony. His post included a mention of the "token" In Memoriam package. He wrote that the presentation "obviously goes beyond just those inducted as they included the dude from Molly Hatchet. But why was a roadie for the Grateful Dead included?"

I haven't been able to find out any more details (or mention of it) but my best guess is that they honored Lawrence 'Ramrod' Shurtliff, who passed away May 17, 2006. And why would the R&R Hall of Fame give him respect? Well, he was one of the more famous roadies in Rock 'n' Roll! In fact, how many fans of other bands know the name of a single roadie, let alone several, as most Deadheads do?. And Ramrod participated in many historic Rock 'n' Roll events. From 710 Ashbury to Woodstock to Egypt and on and on...

While there wasn't much info about the "in Memorium," much press has been given to an auction of Ramrod's possesions.

Here's what Mike Green wrote in Relix:

Lawrence "Ram Rod" Shurtliff (1945-2006) served in a number of capacities with the Grateful Dead. He began as truck driver and later fuctioned as crew chief as well as the President of the Grateful Dead's corporate entity. On May 8 (the thirty year anniversary date of the group's celebrated Cornell University Barton Hall show), much of his Grateful Dead memorabilia will appear for auction at Bonhams & Butterfields in San Francisco.

The auction will feature a range of gear and artwork. Of particular note are several guitars formerly owned by Jerry Garcia. These include the electric made for him by Doug Irwin, a second electric guitar made by Travis Bean and a custom built acoustic created in a collaboration between Modulus and Alvarez. Some original Garcia art will be in the auction as well, including an ink drawing of Hot Tuna from the late 60's. Tie-dyed speaker covers, amplifiers, and mixers from the Wall of Sound will be available, as will arrange of road cases. Other items include concert posters, original Grateful Dead photographs, signed Stanley Mouse artwork, a custom-made leather jacket, and a framed and mounted ticket stub from the last concert in which Garcia performed (7/9/95 at Soldier's Field in Chicago).

In the days before the auction, a free preview of items will take place and an illustrated catalog is expected as well, with information to follow at

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Bob Weir & his Ratdog

The Green Apple Fest is getting a lot of attention. It's a three-city Free Festival on Earth Day (April 22nd), and Bob & Ratdog are headlining the one in San Francisco's Golden Gate Park. Relix has an article about the festival, and so does Billboard. Those are just a couple...The complete lineup for the festival is here.

Ratdog is on tour, of course. Here's the rest of the March Tour Schedule:

March 22 (Thu)

Classic Center
Athens, GA

March 23 (Fri)
Thomas Wolfe Auditorium
Asheville, NC

March 24 (Sat)
War Memorial Auditorium
Greensboro, NC

More details, including links for tickets is at Meanwhile, here are some articles...

Gordon Hensley's DCspectator has this review:

Bob Weir, RatDog, Pull Off Historic Three Night Run at NYC's Beacon Theater

When I tell my musically-literate friends that Grateful Dead guitarist/vocalist Bob Weir’s band, RatDog, is the hottest band on the planet, I routinely get glazed-over looks of skepticism, incredulity and outright derision. They just don’t know any better -- and they would see things differently if they had been fortunate enough to catch the band’s three night run at New York City’s venerable Beacon Theater last week.

In short, Ratdog’s marketing guys and fans alike have every legitimate right to characterize this run as “historic” – and the Thursday and Saturday night shows, in this listener’s opinion, even surpassed the blowout energy level of the prior “threshold” Beacon show: 10/25/03. That, in and of itself, is a major feat. And luckily, unlike past Beacon gigs, these three shows are available from in soundboard/matrix. There are also plenty of high quality auds already proliferating on the internet.

With Bobby Weir’s sixtieth birthday just around the corner, it’s impossible not to have been inspired and uplifted by his utterly contagious energy and vigor; he was a happy man, with a happy band, intent upon blowing the roof off the Beacon, and that was accomplished the first night with monster renditions of the Grateful Dead classics, Estimated Prophet and Sugar Magnolia. Interesting song placements – Black Muddy River out of “stuff” and Uncle John’s Band as the encore – added to the show’s irresistible appeal.

On both Estimated and Sugar Magnolia, Weir and guitarist Mark Karan came right down
to the front of the stage to shred both tunes, and the crowd was treated to several intense, perfectly- timed Bobby lunges that sent the crowd into a collective frenzy. Weir has generally avoided charging the crowd in this manner, for all practical purposes, since the 80’s, and watching him come down front from our 8th row seats – especially on these two tunes -- was a time warp rush. It was great.

But as hot as the band was for the 3/8 and 3/10 shows, one of the big headlines of the entire three day run is the still under-appreciated Mark Karan, who has stepped up in a huge manner over the past several years. With all of the other mesmerizing aural chaos being generated around them by Kenny Brooks on horns, Jay Lane on drums, Robin Sylvester on bass and Jeff Chimenti on keys, the ability of Weir and Karan to lock so singly into soaring sonic jams is spectacular.

In this Beacon run, and as he does now routinely, Karan demonstrated he can summon the power of an incendiary Jerry Garcia guitar solo, but without mimicking Garcia’s signature style and sound. Karan’s own sound is huge, and the ever-growing size and sophistication of his rig is bringing out the best in him and his band mates. Several years back, Weir, in an interview, likened Mark’s playing to an unfolding flower. He’s now in full bloom.

Other Beacon run highlights:

4 Despite the fact Kenny Brooks’s talented trombone-playing buddy, Josh Roseman, didn’t show up, Chuck MacKinnon’s improv trumpet playing during the pre-Other One jam on 3/8 was a mind-blower. He’s damn good, and unfortunately didn’t have as much room or time to stretch out during the 3/10 show. The only other trumpet player I’ve seen play like that with RatDog is New Orleans jazz superstar, Irvin Mayfield.

4 A different version of Stagger Lee was played each night: a generally botched acoustic version on 3/8; a rockin’ traditional electric arrangement on 3/9; and a Grateful Dead-style electric version on 3/10. The fact the band has the self-confidence and chops to throw these three versions out there before being perfected in successive sound checks speaks volumes about the creativity we’re seeing on this ’07 spring tour and the just-completed west coast run.

4 The return of Gloria, Bobby’s Vegas “lounge act” version of My Funny Valentine, killer versions of Looks Like Rain and Black Throated Wind, a Quinn the Eskimo breakout, a super-slithery Althea into da bomb version of Scarlet Begonias, Jerry Jemmott on Milestones>Lovelight, and Tom Pope’s percussive explorations with Jay Lane all three nights, rounds out the highlights. Just too many to list.

One other thing that’s apparent over the past year is how well RatDog’s three new tunes – Jus’ Like Mama Said, Money for Gasoline and Tuesday Blues – have, with such facility, worked their way into the set lists. The jam in Money for Gasoline is different and interesting, and the band clearly enjoys working this tune over as it evolves. The 3/8 version was creative and rippling with energy.

In 1976, some young teen-age friends and I went to see Kingfish at the Beacon, and one year later, saw my first Grateful Dead concert at the Boston Garden. I was hooked. And now, some 30-odd years later, this special ensemble rolls up and down the east coast, west coast and through the American heartland, year in and year out. The fact this still occurs, and does so at this lofty level of performance, is an amazing testament to Bob Weir’s talent, work ethic and spirit; that he’s been able to draw such talented and passionate musicians into his post-Grateful Dead musical universe is special in and of itself. Enjoy the ride while it’s still here.

This review, by George Lenker, is from TheReupublican:

Ratdog hot, even when it's cold outside
Thursday, March 15, 2007

Even when it's freezing outside, Bob Weir's California demeanor comes through onstage through his clothing: He almost always wears shorts during a Ratdog concert.

But during a recent show in frigid Syracuse N.Y., Weir startled some folks by wearing long pants during the show. It wasn't the weather that caused this change, however.

"The airline we flew into Syracuse with mishandled our luggage. Otherwise, it's always July under the lights," Weir said.

So whether or not the recent local warm spell holds, Weir will probably be back to wearing shorts when Ratdog plays the Hippodrome in downtown Springfield tonight at 7:30. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. and tickets are $49.50.

As a founding member of the Grateful Dead, Weir spent more than 30 years with that band - an astounding feat of longevity for a rock band by any standards.

Yet Ratdog is hardly a slouch in terms of sticking around. The band has now reached the 12-year mark, playing approximately 700 shows in that period. Weir noted that the band's ongoing success can be attributed to one basic idea.

"The secret to success and longevity is simple; we enjoy what we do," he said. "That enables us to stick together."

Weir added that in terns of the music, this longevity also produces a juicer, tastier creative fruit as well.

"We've learned to hear each other think, and intuit each other's moves. It takes a while to form this kind of bond, but once it's there, it's a wonderfully creative place to live," he said. "The more we play, the better we get."

Although Ratdog released a couple of conventional albums earlier in the decade, the band remains largely a live act. But fortunately for fans who want a permanent record of the songs, the group accommodates them in a method that has become increasingly popular among rock bands these days: They record and sell CDs of their live concerts.

The band started doing this in 2003 and continues doing it today. With modern technology allowing rapid reproduction of discs, the CDs are usually available for fans right after any given show. The discs are recorded straight from the soundboard, so they offer high-quality recordings of the show fans have just seen.

This fits right into the Ratdog fan psyche, many of whom are such fanatics that they even collect set list information for shows they haven't heard. But Weir said that is not the band's bailiwick.

"We have nothing to do with this. The DogHeads do it all," he said, using the nickname for the band's avid followers.

And speaking of canine nicknames, Weir shrugged off a question about the origins of his band's moniker.

"Stuff just comes to me" he said.

The Richmond Times-Dispatch has an article by Tom Netherland:

Weir spits fire and finds groove

Listen to the Grateful Dead circa 1966. Then listen to the Dead of the late 1980s or early'90s. The group's style changed as more sounds were added to the mix and went from good to great. Greatness takes time.
Bob Weir ought to know.

The longtime member of the Grateful Dead leads Ratdog nowadays. Fans can see Weir & Co. on Tuesday at the NorVa in Norfolk.

With Ratdog, and much as he and the Dead's Jerry Garcia learned, great bands don't become great bands overnight.

"It's been a slow process," Weir said by phone Monday afternoon from Concord, N.H. "It takes a long time to learn the telepathic way to learn the nuances of the components of a band. The last few years, we've been spitting fire."

Weir assembled Ratdog in the spring of 1995. Shows were scant at first as the band took tentative steps into the world of rock. Gradually, those steps turned to leaps.

Over time, Ratdog's members have learned an unspoken musical language that blooms onstage, Weir said. "Tiny movements or a flick of a finger between themselves can say much more than words can.

"You develop it over the years," he said. "I can play a lick on the guitar onstage, and they'll know what I'm talking about." That's exactly what Weir had with Garcia.

"It comes down to learning how to listen to your brothers onstage," Weir said. "You know how they say that blood is thicker than water? What's beginning to happen with Ratdog was what Jerry used to say we had with the Dead -- that the blood is thicker than the blood."

Perhaps that explains why Weir said that nary a day passes when he doesn't think about Garcia, his musical father. "I can still feel Jerry onstage with me sometimes," Weir said. "He's there. I can feel him in certain songs that we play."

Comparisons with the legendary Grateful Dead are inevitable. Both classify as jam bands. Each features sounds including and well beyond rock. And as with the Dead, Ratdog never plays the same show twice.

"I have a database of 10 years or so," Weir said.

He assembles the set list for each show. When Ratdog rolls into a city for a show, he summons the database.

"First I bring up the last few times I've played the town, and those songs are automatically out," he said. "Plus, like we did in the Dead, if we play more than one night in a town, we won't repeat songs. Our repertoire is about 200 songs."

Dead fans will instantly recognize many of those 200 songs as songs culled from the Dead's repertoire. On any given night, Ratdog may perform Dead classics such as "Sugar Magnolia" and "Uncle John's Band." Ratdog also covers some of the covers the Dead were known to feature, including Marty Robbins' "Big Iron" and Merle Haggard's "Mama Tried."

And also as with the Dead, there are occasional shows and moments onstage that exceed greatness, Weir said.

"It does happen with some regularity. Over a period of time I'll feel weightless. It's like my mind has become elastic. At that point, I'm in a total hallucinogenic state. That happened a lot with the Dead, and it does now with Ratdog."

Ratdog's leader may look like an aging hippie with nary a care, but that's inaccurate.

"I've got a job to do, and I take it very seriously," Weir said. At 59, he has no desire to hang up his guitar anytime soon.

"I asked Johnnie Johnson one time had he ever thought about retiring or coming off the road. He said that'll only happen when his boots were pointed to high noon," Weir said.

"I feel the same way. I've got nothing else better to do. Playing music is all I've ever really wanted to do."

Here's an article by Jeff Maisey from

AFTER AN INITIAL warm-up jam, what song will Ratdog begin with at The NorVa on Tuesday? Will they follow it with "Bertha" or "Shakedown Street"? How about the encore? Could we expect "Franklin's Tower" or "Touch of Grey"?

Keeping fans guessing and making each concert unique through creative song selections and order of performance was a Grateful Dead tradition continued today by its founding rhythm guitarist, Bob Weir, and his band, Ratdog.

Ratdog, which counts Weir (guitar, vocals), Jay Lane (drums), Jeff Chimenti (keyboards), Mark Karan (guitar), Kenny Brooks (saxophone) and Robin Sylvester (bass) as full-time members, has an incredible 170-song repertoire to shuffle from city to city.

"I have a database of all the shows since Ratdog started," said Weir by telephone from his home in California. "Generally speaking, what I do is I bring up the last two or three times we played in a given town, and those songs are automatically out. Then I bring up the last seven or eight shows that we have done, and those songs are automatically out. And I start working from there so that we get a big rotation on all our material."

Ratdog's most recent performance in Hampton Roads was last year on March 18. According to, a fan Web site that documents and catalogs each concert set list, the songs played included "Cassidy," "Railroad Blues," "Tomorrow Never Knows," "Mississippi Half-Step," "Dark Star," "Dear Prudence," "The Other One" and "One More Saturday Night," among others.

Considering Weir's set list explanation, those are all but ruled out this time around. But in addition to a few recent originals and an interesting array of cover tunes, the set is sure to be weighted on the Dead side.

The Grateful Dead emerged from the psychedelic, counter-culture scene of the late 1960s, which had its epicenter in the Haight-Ashbury district of San Francisco. It was an "artist ghetto" where music, art and literature thrived. Weir says the members of the Grateful Dead, Jefferson Airplane, Big Brother and The Holding Company, and Quicksilver Messenger Service felt a sense of camaraderie.

"Those bands, we were all thick as thieves. We enjoyed each other as company and had a whole lot of fun."

Not long after The Dead's self-titled debut album was released in March of '67, the environment in the city changed.

"The year of the Summer of Love, the summer of '67, everything went to hell because every loose screw and nut in the country flocked there, and the Haight-Ashbury turned very sour very quickly."

The Grateful Dead would go on to create such album gems as "American Beauty" and "Workingman's Dead." They also embarked upon national tours that resembled a traveling caravan at times, peopled by diehard fans dubbed Deadheads.

"That started happening in the late '70s," said Weir. "It was ingratiating. It was like having family, pretty much, with you everywhere. Later that following became a little out of control once we started cranking out hit records and stuff.

"When it first started happening, it was like a tighter and more focused group of folk, and it was like being followed around by a gypsy carnival. We'd land in a city and they'd set up a little town outside the gig, and after a few years some of the locales weren't hospitable to that."

Between tours and recording sessions, the members of the Dead explored side projects. Weir explored new musical tangents as Weir/Wasserman and Scaring the Children with fellow bandmate Rob Wasserman on bass.

Wasserman and Weir played their first show as Ratdog on Aug. 8, 1995, the day before Grateful Dead lead guitarist and singer Jerry Garcia died.

Without Garcia, the surviving members of the Grateful Dead decided to disband in December 1995. They have reunited for occasional tours as The Dead and will continue to do so.

"We owe it to ourselves to reconvene every now and again," said Weir, "but I don't see it this summer."

The Grateful Dead was presented a Grammy for Lifetime Achievement in February. Weir said he isn't ready to slow down.

"I'm certainly not done now that I've got my Grammy."

Reach Jeff Maisey at (757) 222-3934 or

And if that's not enough, here's an interview from

First Grateful Dead, now Ratdog, Weir still touring
By Jeff Hahne
Staff writer

After more than 40 years in the music business, it's difficult to summarize Bob Weir's place on the musical landscape.

As a founding member of The Grateful Dead, he's been a fixture of the hippy culture, a voice for the environment, the conductor of three-hour concerts and an instrumental god to jam bands across the world.

His current project, Ratdog, which was formed in 1995, will make its first stop in Greensboro on Saturday.

The News & Record spoke with Weir by phone from his home in California where he discussed the magic of creating a setlist, his thoughts on receiving a lifetime Grammy and the future of The Dead.
How much touring are you doing these days?

"You know, our average is about four to five months a year."
Do you know how many shows you've played over the years?

"I heard that we've done just under 1,000. I have no idea. We've done more than 700, I'm quite sure. That being said, I think we've done some 3,500 with The Dead and maybe more."
How do you keep this fun and fresh for you? Is it the variety in setlists and having so much material to pull from?

"Yeah, it takes work, basically, but it pays off. We have a fairly large repertoire. I guess at this point, if I was looking at our song lists and stuff like that, I'd say we probably have worked up and ready to go about 170 tunes and there are constantly more.

"For instance, when I do a setlist for a given evening, I generally will bring up the city ... we're playing in and the last two or three shows that we played there and automatically rule out all of the tunes we played our last few visits to that city.

"And then I bring up the last five to seven shows that we've done -- and those tunes are automatically ruled out.

"And everybody in the band knows that when a tune comes up on a setlist, it's, in all likelihood, our last crack at it for a while. So everybody just sort of leans into it."
Are you writing much new music these days?

"Yeah, we are. We've got a bunch of stuff that's more than half written, but it's not quite ready to bring out yet. As a matter of fact, for a lot of today I'm going to be working on some new tunes that maybe we'll be able to play on this tour."
Recently, The Dead received the Lifetime Grammy -- what did that mean to you?

"Well, it's kinda edifying. I was playing a show that night so I wasn't able to make the presentation. ... I imagine it will look nice when it gets here and I put it on my mantel or something like that."
When you're performing Dead songs with Ratdog, how is it different for you from playing with the Dead?

"The songs all have their own character and the character is the same, pretty much, for any band that I'm playing with. ... So the major difference is the personnel that I'm playing with, but the song is the same."
I read an interview where you talked about the possibility of hitting the road as a quartet or trio at some point. Do you think that's still an option?

"Do you mean The Dead or me?"
You. I don't know if that means The Dead, or if it means as a new quartet or trio.

"I've felt for some time now that the most meaningful way for The Dead to go back out would be as a quartet. Just the four guys that are still alive with no hired guns this time.

"As for me, I enjoy playing trios."
So, at this point, there are no plans for a version of The Dead to hit the road.

"No, not right now."
What comes to mind when you think back on this legacy that you've created?

"Well, it's the only life I've ever known, so I just look at it as a life, you know ... as my life in particular. And, uh, (laughs) I don't spend a lot of time thinking about that 'cause (laughs) I'm a fairly busy guy. My plate is full with other stuff to think about."
So what are your plans for the rest of the year and further down the road?

"More touring this year. As for next year, we'll just see. At some point, I'd like to get into film scoring a little bit. I think that might be fun, but it certainly never would replace playing live on stage."
Contact Jeff Hahne at 883-4422, Ext. 228, or

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

This Ratdog Review Wants You!

Did you see Ratdog at the Paramount Center for the Arts in Peekskill Tuesday night? If you did, Journal music writer John W. Barry would like to know what you thought of the show. After reading his review, concertgoers are invited to post their comments on the performance and, for that matter, their thoughts on his review.

Here's the link

Here's the story from the Poughkeepsie Journal:

RatDog barks and bites
By John W. Barry

On one of the coldest nights of the year, former Grateful Dead guitarist
Bob Weir in a roundabout way Tuesday reminded winter-weary Hudson Valley
residents that daylight savings time is just days away and spring starts in two weeks.

As roughly a thousand people shook off their winter parkas and the cold in a
packed Paramount Center for the Arts in Peekskill, Weir took the stage with
his band RatDog in shorts and sandals. Throughout the night, green and
orange lights projected on a screen that could cover the side of a barn gave
Weir and his band mates a stunning backdrop and could have given anyone
tired of zero degree days the sense of a lush green field or sizzling summer
evening sunset.

Capping this grand illusion that the crowd indulged in with Weir was his
churning, massaged rendition of Jamaican reggae superstar Jimmy Cliff’s
“Sitting in Limbo," which summoned the spirit of the Caribbean, tall drinks
tiny umbrellas and beachfront bonfires at dusk.

“Sitting in Limbo” was one of the night’s highlights, but a pair of bluesy
tunes from the Grateful Dead catalog anchored the evening from the outset.
Weir led the crowd through a session of “howl”-and-response during “Little
Red Rooster” and band and crowd alike watched as “Wang Dang Doodle” inched
slowly toward explosion, much like the lit fuse on a stick of dynamite.

Though the RatDog repertoire is made up largely of time-tested songs the
Grateful Dead performed over four decades, Weir, keyboard player Jeff
Chimenti, saxophone player Kenny Brooks, guitarist Mark Karan, bassist Robin
Sylvester and drummer Jay Lane by no means rested on any laurels.

In fact, this San Francisco Bay Area-based ensemble seemed to wander far out
of its comfort zone Tuesday night by bringing a taste of the middle east
to the Hudson Valley. They tweaked guitar chords and worked repeated musical
phrases — sometimes simply playing two notes over and over in a rhythmical
mantra — to create rock 'n' roll ragas.

Judging by the flailing arms and wide smiles, many in the audience seemed to
hope that this concert would last a thousand and one nights.

Weir, on the other hand, might have been wishing he was somewhere other
than Peekskill during the first set closer, “Might As Well," a Grateful Dead
rocker. He forgot many of the lyrics and watched helplessly — in front of a
packed house - as the song caved in around him.

The subject of the song was fitting for the moment from which Weir sought to
extricate himself. “Might As Well” is about a 1970 locomotive ride across
Canada that carried the Dead, The Band, Janis Joplin, Buddy Guy and many
other notables to concerts throughout the provinces. And Weir’s rendition of
"Might As Well" last night was truly a train wreck.

But in true Grateful Dead fashion, he salvaged the song and finished with a

Standouts of the evening were Brooks, whose horn playing stole the spotlight
every time he put his lips to his mouthpiece. And Chimenti played piano like
Hoagy Carmichael in a gin joint, tickling the ivories during “Ship of Fools”
and offering what might have been the only bright spot of “Might As Well.”

RatDog finished out the show with several long, improvised rock 'n roll jams
that offered Weir and the band a lot of room to experiment, which was truly
where this dog maintained its bark and its bite.

RatDog is scheduled to play the Beacon Theater in Manhattan Thursday, Friday
and Saturday. For information on the band, set lists and tour schedule,

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