I don’t know how other people feel, but the loss of Prince and Tom Petty still have me quite shaken up. Without a doubt, whenever I have the chance to see a legend, I make the time. Bob Weir, unequivocally, is in the top-tier legend status with McCartney, Elton John, Bob Dylan, and Eric Clapton, as musicians who have influenced multiple generations and are still performing at a high level. The fact he’s coming to an intimate venue in Charleston, SC, to open his tour makes it an evening to clear your schedule and burn any hall pass you have to attend.
Dead & Company will start their final tour in May of this year, but Weir, always the improviser, will do another run of dates with the Wolf Brothers. I didn’t know a lot about this collaboration before this month, but they’ve been playing together for over eight years including dates with the National Symphony orchestra at the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC. What to expect with the Wolf Brothers? A standup bass, horn and string sections, and pedal steel guitar to name a few.
Fans can expect a healthy dose of Grateful Dead songs. I peeked at some past shows on YouTube and saw a 12-minute Shakedown Street and other highly known songs in the mix. If there’s any doubt on Weir’s voice or guitar skills, his NPR Tiny Desk performance with two of the Wolf Brothers highlights how good is game still is in all categories: voice, guitars, and improvisation.
One of the great things about the Dead, and even Weir today, is how much they change up their sets and songs every night. Via WaPost, Weir commented on this: “If we were to go out and try to do a rote set, the same thing night after night like some outfits do, I’d make it maybe two or three gigs and then go completely nuts,” he says. “Sometimes repeating myself would be a good idea, but it’s not something that comes particularly easy to me.”
In interviews Weir does with every outlet, questions about his pal, Jerry Garcia, always come up. Weir recently joked that even today when he’s going on an extended jam he can hear Garcia at times in his ear “Why are you going there?” Too funny. But circling back on what the Grateful Dead means to the music world, the great, Bob Dylan, had this to say on Jerry:
“There’s no way to measure his greatness or magnitude as a person or as a player. I don’t think eulogizing will do him justice. He was that great – much more than a superb musician with an uncanny ear and dexterity. He is the very spirit personified of whatever is muddy river country at its core and screams up into the spheres. He really had no equal. To me he wasn’t only a musician and friend, he was more like a big brother who taught and showed me more than he’ll ever know.”
Weir, carrying the torch for all Dead fans, is in this same inspirational status for John Mayer, Trey Anastasio, Eddie Vedder, Kurt Cobain, and so many others. See the greats while you can.