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Bob Weir & RatDog
With a touring history that has made him one of the most traveled road musicians of all time and a restless music personality that has kept him occupied for over 50 years, Weir knows a thing or two about staying fresh and living in the moment. Although best known as one of the founding members of the Grateful Dead, adding Dead staples such as “Truckin’,” “Sugar Magnolia,” and “Cassidy” to the band’s catalog, Weir obtained a long and affluent music career that has allowed him to do what he loves and share it with others for nearly his entire life.
Born in 1947, Weir was adopted by a wealthy California engineer. As a teen, he secured his spot as one of the youngest members of the burgeoning folk scene that centered on a Palo Alto club called the Tangent—home to such future rock legends as Jerry Garcia, Jefferson Airplane guitarist Jorma Kaukonen and Janis Joplin. In 1964, at the age of 17, Weir spent the majority of his time at a Palo Alto music store where Garcia taught guitar lessons. It wasn’t long before Weir and Garcia, along with Ron “Pigpen” McKernan, formed a blues and folk outfit. Originally called Mother McCree’s Uptown Jug Champions, the band was later renamed The Warlocks—adding Phil Lesh and Bill Kreutzman to the lineup—and eventually came to be known as the Grateful Dead.
Weir’s odd rhythm style developed as he played between the sweet articulated lead of Garcia and the avant-garde bass lines of Lesh. His songwriting developed as well, taking off particularly in the 1970s when he crossed paths with former pal John Perry Barlow. The two began producing songs in Weir’s own distinct style, spurring a songwriting partnership that would last for years to come.
Even with the Dead playing close to 100 shows a year, Weir needed other musical outlets. 1972 brought the release of his first solo album, Ace, on which the rest of the Dead backed him. Throughout the rest of the 1970s Weir toured and recorded with a number of different groups, the first of which was Kingfish. After releasing an album with the band in 1976, Weir began a solo project with producer Keith Olsen called Heaven Help the Fool. A brief tour to support the album resulted in collaborations with various session players, including Brent Mydland (who would join the Dead in 1979), Bobby Cochran, Alphonso Johnson and Billy Cobham. Weir also briefly toured with a group as Bobby and the Midnites, producing two albums.
Throughout the late 1980s and during the first half of the 1990s, the Dead remained Weir’s primary gig. Touring incessantly while all the while building up a community of “Deadheads,” the band found commercial success with their 1987 album, In the Dark. When Garcia died in 1995, Weir had just recently formed RatDog with Rob Wasserman, a bassist he had been playing duo shows with since the late 1980s. After Garcia’s death, former Primus drummer Jay Lane and ex-Kingfish harmonica/guitar player Matthew Kelly were added into the mix. With a revolving lineup, the group toured relentlessly, building a name for themselves while performing a mix of new Weir compositions and older, reworked Dead songs.
Throughout 2009 and 2010, original RatDog members Bob Weir, Rob Wasserman, and Jay Lane periodically performed under the moniker Scaring the Children. From 2010 through 2013, the number of RatDog's performances were limited while Weir toured with Furthur. Ratdog played 2 shows in both January 2012 and August 2013. In September 2013 it was revealed by Primus bassist Les Claypool that RatDog would be "getting back together this next year", as Lane had chosen to leave Primus in order to rejoin RatDog. Ratdog returned to extensive touring in 2014 with Steve Kimock on lead guitar and the unusual arrangement of two bassists in the mix. Robin Sylvester and original Ratdog bassist Rob Wasserman share the stage. Jay Lane, original member, and Jeff Chimenti, long-time member, are back. The return tour in 2014 began on Valentine's Day in Philadelphia.
Chris Robinson Brotherhood
Chris Robinson Brotherhood is an American blues rock band formed in 2011 by Black Crowes singer Chris Robinson while The Black Crowes are on indefinite hiatus. They Have Released albums; "Big Moon Ritual", "The Magic Door", and "Phospheresent Harvest".
Chris Robinson Brotherhood began as an experiment but became a 'band' during their California residency tour. The original intention, according to Robinson, was to "have a local L.A. band, just play in California, see where the music takes us, and have a good time". They then embarked on a 118 date North American tour in 2011. Robinson names Grateful Dead members Phil Lesh and Bob Weir, who sat in with the band during CRB's run at the Great American Music Hall, as both musical inspirations and friends. As well as Robinson, the band features fellow Black Crowes member Adam MacDougall, Ryan Adams collaborator Neal Casal, bassist Mark Dutton, and drummer George Sluppick. Robinson describes the Brotherhood as a "farm-to-table psychedelic band".
Chris Robinson Brotherhood released a version of "Blue Suede Shoes" (written by Carl Perkins) b/w a live version "Girl, I Love You" (written by Al Bell and Eddie Floyd) for Record Store Day on April 21, 2012. The CD version also features a cover of the Jimmy Reed song, "Bright Lights Big City".
The band's debut album, Big Moon Ritual, was recorded at Sunset Sound Studios, Los Angeles, and was released on 5 June 2012. Chris Robinson suggests that Big Moon Ritual is "not a concept album, but it's very conceptual sonically." He also notes that CRB "isn't the type of band that's going to make a concise four-minute song record", and that they prefer instead to make lengthier compositions.
Just three months after its predecessor, on September 11, 2012, Chris Robinson Brotherhood's second studio album, The Magic Door, was released. It was recorded at the same time as Big Moon Ritual and features a cover of the Hank Ballard song "Let's Go, Let's Go, Let's Go", which the band has often played live.
In September 2013, CRB (Chris Robinson Brotherhood) Released an album that featured songs picked by the [Grateful Dead] record producer, Betty Cantor-Jackson, which were recorded over 5 Nights in San Francisco. The band played 96 songs altogether and Cantor- Jackson picked the best songs to go on the album. The album has only been released on Vinyl, which results on it not being available on CD. The album was called "Betty's S.F. Blends, Volume One". The 5 full shows are also available as separate downloads.