If there’s one thing I’ve learned about Bob Weir over the last 10-15 years, it’s that he is most definitely not going to shave that giant mustache and beard. Bob, such a handsome dude underneath that hair! Ah well, the beards are here to stay all around me, I may as well just get used to it.
Crazy to think that more than 21 years have gone by since the passing of Jerry Garcia, bringing with it the end of what was the Grateful Dead. Bob has never let up though. He’s carried on with Ratdog over years with a rotating cast of characters in the band (sorry to see that the great bass player Rob Wasserman passed away earlier this year); and he has re-congregated in different incarnations with his former Dead band mates, most recently as Dead & Company, with John Mayer joining in on guitar and vocal duties (A+ decision on everyone’s part). I’ll finally be checking them out next May when they visit Phoenix on the second show of their tour (May 28).
Adding to his always active life in music, Bob also released Blue Mountain earlier this year, only the third album of his career billed only as Bob Weir (along with 1972’s Ace and 1977’s Heaven Help the Fool). It’s a collection of “cowboy” songs, as he’s referred to them, with help from quality musicians like Josh Ritter and a couple members of the National (who curated that huge and excellent Dead tribute project earlier this year, Day of the Dead).
The album struck a chord with me. I love the downtempo side of the music, and the great melodies and laid back acoustic stylings in Blue Mountain really grabbed me.
A notch above the rest for me are “Gallop on the Run,” “Whatever Happened to Rose,” and especially “Ky-Yi Bossie,” painting a vivid picture of addiction and relationship problems that have to be at least semi-autobiographical. It’s imaginative and honest, framed in a very catchy cowboy tune with a very cowboy title. Check it out…
The first time I saw Los Lobos live was August 4th, 1996 as part of the Furthur Festival, launched by Bob Weir and Mickey Hart (two surviving members of the Grateful Dead) the year after Jerry Garcia’s passing.
Along for the short summer tour was Ratdog (Weir’s band), Mickey Hart’s Mystery Box, Los Lobos, Hot Tuna, and Bruce Hornsby.
Phoenix was the last stop on the tour. It was August. It was hot. And I was there.
The Los Lobos set sparked a lifetime love of the band for me. The set was only 45 minutes long, but the rich and eclectic nature of the music reeled me in. Rock n’ roll, blues, traditional Mexican, a Hendrix cover, and of course what I came to know as their signature Dead cover of “Bertha” (done better than any band outside of the Grateful Dead).
So I was stoked to come across this short but power-packed set (not to mention it’s a soundboard recording) from that very hot summer day in 1996, and I’m excited to share it with you all.
Los Lobos: an American treasure. And they’re still out on the road. I’ll be catching them again in a couple of short weeks – June 15th at Wild Horse Pass Casino here in the Phoenix area. Life’s too short not to.
August 4th, 1996
Desert Sky Pavilion, Phoenix
Furthur Festival (last show of the tour)
Once again, I have to thank my 18 month old for pulling a great cassette out of the box that I thought was so securely closed (you know, the four flap clockwise fold – there’s probably a name for it, like Boy Scout knots).
Between 94 and 97, I taped just about every Grateful Dead Hour off a local radio station (KZON, then KDKB). In late ’95, they played what was then an early Ratdog show from the Warfield in San Francisco – it was September 2nd, short of a month after Jerry Garcia’s death.
I’ve always loved this particular version of “Heaven Help the Fool”. And “Throwing Stones” was always one of my favorites. This early version of Ratdog included Rob Wasserman on bass (Weir and Wasserman performed together for years prior to that), and former Primus member Jay Lane on drums. In this particular show, though, former Tubes-man Prairie Prince is pounding the skins.