Dead to the World
May 14, 1997, 8 - 10pm
KPFA 94.1 FM, Berkeley CA
Host: David Gans
Special Guests: Bob Weir and Rob Wasserman
[Music: Opening Grateful Dead montage -- 1:30]
[Music: Ratdog, "Touch of Grey," 4/7/97, New Orleans -- 7:00]
David Gans: I think there were a lot of people out there in the world that were surprised and delighted to hear Ratdog playing a Jerry song. That's "Touch of Grey," and that was Ratdog, recorded April 7, 1997 in New Orleans. And guess what -- I've got Bob Weir and Rob Wasserman here in the studio with me. Good evening, boys.
Bob Weir: Hiya.
Rob Wasserman: Hey.
Gans: How are you doing?
Weir: Just fine.
Gans: You recovered from this tour yet?
Weir: From the tour, yeah.
Gans: And gettin' ready for --
Wasserman: The next one.
Gans: -- the big one.
Gans: Yeah. Well, there've been a lot of changes. This last tour reflects a new lineup, a larger group.
Weir: Larger ensemble, all that kind of stuff.
Gans: So, who you got in the band these days and how'd they get there?
Weir: Well, there's me and Rob. We've always been there. I'm not entirely sure how we got here --
Weir: Actually, it's a long story, but we're not going to get into that, that's actually spelled out in black and white on the upcoming record...
Wasserman: And how did the rest get here?
Weir: How did the rest get here -- after we'd played together for five years or so, as a duo, we decided, hey, how about a drummer? And that worked out after a couple of gigs, is all.
Gans: Where'd you find him? That's Jay Lane, right?
Weir: Yeah, Jay Lane. We sort of snuck him from Primus, actually. He was playing with Primus, and then, I don't know what happened, but anyway, he did a session with us. And I guess things weren't working out, or maybe they were, I don't know, but anyway, we snaked him from Primus. And did a couple of gigs with him. We were going to do a tour, but that didn't happen. But then by the time we got around to doing a tour again, my old pal Matthew Kelly was back in town. so we thought we'd kick it around with him a little bit, and that worked out.
Gans: And he plays harmonica and a little bit of guitar here and there.
Gans: Good harmonica player, too. He doesn't resort to the blues-honkin' cliches that you usually hear.
Weir: No, he spent a couple of years on the road with T-Bone Walker, on the chitlin' circuit back in the early '70s. He was sort of the harmonica player of choice for the chitlin' circuit blues bands. So -- and he went for a couple years, basically, without seeing a white face.
Weir: And everybody loved him. And then I played with him *after* that in Kingfish. And he's an old school pal of mine; we played ball together back in 7th, 8th grade, 9th grade. back in those days. And then after a while we decided, well, it'd be nice to have a keyboard player. And we brought Vince on. But that didn't work out, for one reason or another. And so, we still thought we might like to have a keyboard player, so we brought on Johnny Johnson.
Gans: Now, where'd you hook up with Johnny Johnson? Give us a little bit of the background; he's got some pretty amazing history, too.
Weir: He's got some credentials, yeah. He's no longer with us, not on this tour. In the fall, I think he'll be back, but a six-month tour on a bus I don't think is something that, uh -- the guy's 73. And, you know, his back's givin' him problems, stuff like that. And we just didn't, we couldn't feature doing that to him.
Gans: He's spent an awful lot of time on the road over the years already.
Wasserman: Yup, Chuck Berry --
Weir: Yeah, he was Chuck Berry's keyboard player way back when. Before that he was just a, you know, a consummate blues piano player. But then he teamed up with Chuck Berry and sort of defined rock 'n' roll piano. He and Jerry Lee Lewis and Little Richard.
Gans: So, it's Johnny Johnson on all those great records: "School's Out," and --
Weir: Oh, yeah.
Gans: -- "Johnny B. Goode," of course.
Wasserman: I think that was about him, right.
Weir: Actually, "Johnny B. Goode" was written, I think, by Chuck Berry -- according to Chuck Berry, if you can believe what he says, was written pretty much for Johnny Johnson.
Gans: Really? Interesting.
Wasserman: So that says something about the way Johnny was when he was younger.
Gans: [laugh] Yeah.
Weir: And he was also an old pal of Willie Dixon's.
Wasserman: Who we worked with.
Weir: Who we worked with, for a little bit, back before his demise.
Gans: And of course you wrote that lovely song "Eternity" with Willie Dixon.
Gans: Cool. Okay, so you got drums, piano, Matthew on the harmonica, you two guys -- *then* what happened?
Weir: Okay, then we added Dave Ellis on sax. Dave had played with Jay in the Charlie Hunter Trio, and when we went to hear Jay for the first time live -- he'd played a session with Rob and I on another project a while back -- but anyway, so we went to hear him live, just to see what he was like live before we invited him to join the band. And we were mightily impressed, but not only by him, but by the sax player in that trio. And Charlie Hunter, too, but Charlie Hunter plays this weird nine-string guitar or whatever it is, eight strings.
Weir: He plays bass and guitar at the same time --
Wasserman: And we didn't need another guitar player *or* bass player, so...
Weir: [laugh] We're trying to add things one at a time.
Weir: Charlie Hunter went on in a different direction, and Dave went on with his own band, but he sat in with us a time or two, and that felt good, so we brought him on board; took him out on tour last fall.
And then we added Mookie Siegel, who was an old friend of Matthew's, to play the more modern rock 'n' roll stuff, 'cos he's sort of familiar with the Grateful Dead stuff, and that whole idiom, which Johnny Johnson is -- Johnny Johnson's forte is more the old style rock 'n' roll. Blues-oriented rock 'n' roll. And we'd been playin' that for a year or two, and it was time to sort of move out of that mold and so we brought on Mookie Siegel and we had *two* keyboard players. And I guess it's seven guys in all. [NOTE: Mookie Siegel has since been replaced by Jeff Chimenti.]
Wasserman: Yeah, seven.
Weir: Does that amount to seven? And now we're back down to six 'cause Johnny's going to sit out the summer tour, 'cos we're not going to do a whole lotta blues on the summer tour, 'cos we don't get that long to play. If we had two or three hours to play, it'd be different, but we have at most an hour and a half.
Gans: Well, I must say, it's sort of pleasant and gratifying to hear you bringing some of your favorite Grateful Dead material back into the Ratdog repertoire, 'causeI've been missing hearing that stuff. I was thrilled when I heard you guys were doing "Cassidy." And then surprised and delighted when you started doing a couple of Garcia songs along the way.
Weir: Well, there are a number of those tunes that I'm not altogether prepared to live the rest of my life without playin'. There'll be a few more of 'em; in fact, there'll be a bunch more of 'em. Also, there'll be a bunch of new material as well.
Gans: Now, among the tapes I was sifting through to find some stuff to play tonight, I noticed a song I'd never heard of before -- somethin' about "howlin' for my darlin' " -- where's that song from?
Weir: Um, I think it's a Willie Dixon tune, yet again. But as performed by Howlin' Wolf.
Gans: I brought in some things that I thought would be interesting to play, and asked Bob to bring in a few things, too. Of course, he brought Rob in, among other things --
Weir: [laugh] I didn't have time to look through my record collection, so I grabbed him.
Gans: So you brought Wasserman; that's cool. Uh, but along the way here, I discovered that you have never heard the Blind Willie Johnson version of "If I Had My Way" --
Gans: So I'm going to play that right now, for your edification and the people out in the audience. This, I guess, is probably where Rev. Gary Davis picked it up. So let's listen to that while I find "Eternity" on the DAT.
[Music: Blind Willie Johnson, "If I Had My Way," 12/3/27 -- 3:05]
Weir: [laugh] All right, I'm scared.
Weir: [little boy voice] " I don't like this game any more, Mommy!"
Weir: [little boy voice] " I'm scared."
Gans: [chuckle] I'm looking to see if I can find a recording date on that --
Weir: Well, that had to have been in nineteen twenty... seven.
Gans: Hey, good guess! December 3, 1927.
Weir: Yeah -- Jesus, I'd never -- I guess that's where Gary Davis picked it up, probably five or ten years later. And then he had this guitar style of his that he'd adapted basically from stride piano. And he -- I always thought he'd written that song. I studied with Rev. Gary Davis many years ago, and he never let on that he *didn't* write the tune.
Wasserman: Well, he...
Weir: I'm sure at that point, he didn't remember *where* it came from.
Gans: Well, he certainly made something interesting out of it.
Weir: Oh yeah, he made it happen, too. He made it pop.
Gans: I remember -- I mean, I first heard it from the Grateful Dead, and then when I heard his version, I was impressed with how well you had translated the percussiveness of his version.
Gans: In a way, it's weird it took six of you guys to do what he did all by himself.
Gans: On the other hand, you did a really good job of puttin' across his rhythm, which is pretty impressive.
Gans: So, one thing we want to do this evening is take some phone calls from you listeners. The phone number here is ****, if you've got a question or a comment --
Gans: I've got both doors locked now, so --
Wasserman: Or an answer, maybe.
Gans: Or an answer, yes, okay. Well, hey, we got a caller on the line right now --
Gans: -- let's just go ahead and see what we've got here. Hello, you're on the air. Are you there? [no one there]
Weir: Chickened out. Ah, well.
Wasserman: Crank call.
Gans: All right, we'll get another one. Hello, you're on the air.
Caller: Hello, hi, my name is Patrick. I wanted to ask Bob Weir --
Weir: You bet.
Caller: -- if they could play more general admission [shows] on the West Coast, so that people can wait in line and get close, instead of worrying about the lottery of reserved tickets.
Weir: Right. Ah, I like playin' general admission, and I tell you what: point well made. Thanks. I haven't been payin' enough attention to that, really.
Caller: It's like the Henry J. [Kaiser Convention Center] is a great place. I saw you at the Mardi Gras .
Weir: Right. Shoulda seen the sound check.
Weir: It was a whole different deal.
Gans: That's what everybody says.
Weir: At the sound check, everybody knew what they were doing.
Gans: And then along came Taj [Mahal].
Weir: [laugh] And David [Murray] and everybody who was supposed to be at the sound check but wasn't.
Gans: Well, thanks for registering your opinion --
Weir: You bet.
Gans: -- and I can tell that Bob's going to get right on it.
Weir: We got our best guys on it.
Caller: Thanks, you.
Weir: You bet.
Caller: All right --
Gans: Oh, sorry about that. Hello, you're on the air with Bob and Rob. [silence] Okay, I guess you're not on the air with Bob and Rob. How about you, you want to be on the air with Bob and Rob? [click] Oh, they're droppin' like flies.
Weir: I tell you what, you're probably not workin' that thing right.
Wasserman: [laugh] Oh, no.
Weir: This is probably pilot error here.
Wasserman: Is this an 800 number or what?
Weir: 900 number.
Gans: [laugh] "I swear to God, I been doing this for yeeahs." Well, let's try one more time, and if that doesn't work, then we'll go to the prerecorded music.
Weir: [laugh] Fall back and punt.
Gans: Try not to make me look bad. Are you there?
All: All right!
Caller: Yes, this question is for Bob.
Weir: You bet.
Caller: I was wondering if there are any outtakes that are around from your first album, from the "Ace" album?
Gans: Ooh, good question.
Weir: There is one.
Caller: There is?
Gans: A song you left off?
Weir: Or was it, was "Walk in" -- no actually, "Walk in the Sunshine" was on the record, but that was not really the song. There was a lyric that [John Perry] Barlow had written that I actually chickened out from singing. It was called "The Dwarf," and it was ugly. Um...
Gans: Now, wait a minute. Barlow told me that he wrote that lyric as a way of getting you to accept "Walk in the Sunshine."
Weir: Right. Basically, yeah.
Caller: That's not the best song on the whole album.
Weir: No, it's not.
Weir: But it would have been a lot better, I think, if I'd done "The Dwarf."
Caller: So you never played that song live.
Weir. No. Maybe, maybe if I can get the lyrics to that one...
Gans: I think I have -- I think Barlow gave me the lyrics --
Weir: A copy of the lyrics to "The Dwarf"?
Gans: -- to "The Dwarf. " I have it in my file. I'll fax it to you, Bob.
Weir: I don't know --
Gans: Look for it on this tour, folks.
Weir: -- we'll see, it's, uh --
Gans: We'll have banners out on the Furthur tour.
Weir: Among other things, it's kinda politically incorrect.
Caller: Oh, I wouldn't worry about that.
Gans: Really. [laugh]
Caller: So, what you're saying is, that's the only outtake from that album that's floating around.
Gans: Was there another take of "Playing in the Band"? It was such a perfect version --
Weir: There're probably several takes of several of the tunes.
Gans: 'Cause that wound up being such a perfect studio jam, you know.
Weir: Right. We didn't lose the "ten," all the way through. It stayed in ten all the way through, which was sort of a triumph for us, at that point.
Caller: Yeah, that's a great album. One of my favorites.
Gans: And, not coincidentally, perhaps, I couldn't find my copy of it as I left the house this evening, so I can't even put that on to illustrate --
Gans: -- but thank you for calling.
Caller: Okay, thanks a lot.
Weir: You bet.
Caller: Bye now.
Gans: Okay, let me see if I can get this other phone to work. Hello, are you there?
Caller: Yeah, hey.
Gans: All right. See, I *knew* I knew how to work this thing.
Caller: Hey, Bobby!
Weir: You bet.
Caller: Are you guys plannin' on lowering the stage for us rail rats, so we can get up and see you guys this summer?
Weir: Um, I think the stages come the way they are.
Caller: Oh, yeah?
Weir: I think we'd have to, you know -- it'd probably take a little dynamite or somethin'.
Caller: Yeah, I was a little disappointed on how high it was last summer.
Weir: Well, you know, maybe we can bring in a buncha truckload of sand or somethin' and put 'em in the front rows of the audience.
Weir: Right, beach balls and umbrellas.
Caller: And again, you guys plannin' on hooking up with Branford [Marsalis] ever again?
Weir: Ah, if it happens. He's out and about, and he's not tied down with that TV gig anymore. So, you know, most likely that'll happen at some point.
Caller: Right on, right on.
Gans: Of course, they got a full-time sax player of their own right now, you know.
Caller: Oh, that's right.
Weir: And he's, you know, he's as great as --
Caller: Well, I see you go and play with David Murray --
Weir: Yeah. I do that, too.
Caller: -- so...
Weir: I mean, there're a lot of good sax players out there, and they're like snowflakes: they're all different.
Caller: Oh, yeah.
Weir: We got one of our own who lives here, and that makes a big difference --
Wasserman: He's good, too.
Weir: -- 'cos we can work with him all the time. And I think you're going to be kind of amazed at how different he is going to be this tour from last tour. We're workin' some stuff out, and he's havin' some fun with some new toys.
Caller: All right!
Weir: We're also -- I don't think he's heard this yet, but I think we're going to try to get him on alto [sax].
Caller: Oh! Right on.
Caller: What's he playin' now?
Weir: He's playin' tenor and baritone.
Caller: Okay. All right, then Bobby.
Caller: Thanks a lot.
Gans: Thanks for calling. Okay, the rest of you hang onto your --
Gans: -- phone lines, there. I've got the version of "Eternity" cued up. Now, this is from a forthcoming record. You guys are finally gettin' around to puttin' out some of your duo material.
Wasserman: [chuckle] Took a while.
Gans: It's been a while --
Gans: -- and it's a welcome development. So, let's talk about this. You got a whole bunch of material, recorded when?
Wasserman: Back in 1988, from some of our first shows together. And the thing that makes it great, I think, is that it's all pretty acoustic: acoustic bass, acoustic guitar. And we had just met, and it's got this really great live energy.
Weir: Right. It's also got the wooden instruments, and not a whole hell of a lot more. It's just us and our wooden instruments.
Wasserman: No effects, really. It's just sonically pure, and, uh, you have to hear it. But one day, I was thinkin', we never did a record, and we had all these tapes, and we're not going to go make a studio duo album now, 'cos we're already on to Ratdog. So I started listening, played some for Bobby, and we realized how good that stuff was.
Weir: Yeah, what fun it was to do that.
Gans: Was this recorded live?
Weir: Yeah. It's all recorded live.
Gans: Before I play this, let's talk about the name Ratdog.
Weir: Stuff just comes to me, David.
Gans: [laugh] And what does it say on the T-shirt? "If you can't..." --
Weir: "If you can't hang with the..." -- let's see; "If you can't run with the Ratdogs, stay the hell off the couch."
Gans: Now that makes the whole name worth it. I like that --
Weir: Well, you know, it came to me with the album cover, too. It was one big blinding flash. All that stuff, and then there's sort of a kitten's eye view of a snarling Pomeranian, or whatever --
Weir: -- and, um, you'll see. It'll all fall together; it'll come into focus for you.
Gans: That's going to be on the cover? That's not going to be the cover of this duo record.
Wasserman: No, this isn't Ratdog, this is --
Gans: No, right.
Wasserman: -- before Ratdog.
Weir: This is pre-Ratdog. This is actually the formative stages of Scaring the Children.
Gans: Scaring the Children. You really got a knack for these names, Weir, I gotta say.
Weir: Like I say, stuff comes to me, David.
Gans: [laugh] All right, without further ado, this is Weir and Wasserman's performance of "Eternity."
[Music: Bob Weir and Rob Wasserman, "Eternity" -- 5:57]
Gans: Weir and Wasserman. "Eternity." You were just talkin' off mic about where and how that was recorded.
Wasserman: Well, it was -- we finished writing it with Willie just before he died, and we recorded it, and actually this was the first time we ever really played it through --
Wasserman: -- and recorded it at the same time.
Weir: It was me tryin' to remember the words, all that kinda stuff.
Wasserman: And it was a small audience. Actually, it was in [Dixon's] garage home studio for a documentary they were making about his life. And it was a very sad but moving experience to do it there.
Weir: Writing it was kinda cool. So, we got together this session. Willie wanted -- we had met Willie a couple years earlier, at the Sweetwater in Mill Valley, when he was playin' there. And we hung with him; I played with him a little bit. Did you play with him that night?
Weir: Not that night. And after the show, we were hangin' with him, and he said, "Well, you gotta come on down and we'll write some tunes." And so we finally got that together and went down there, and we sort of whipped up the beginning, these musical shards to start chasing. One of the reasons that Willie wanted to work with us is he wanted to sort of bust out of the blues bag. And he wanted to go into, you know, some more extended chord changes and stuff like that. And so we started working this thing up, and he liked it, and he started writing stuff. And by the time we had sort of fluffed up a verse and a chorus, musically, he handed me a sheet of paper. "Now, you go ahead and sing this." And I was reading it, and it was so simple, and I was thinking to myself, this is awful simple, this is really pretty simple-minded stuff. And it's really a great honor to be working with the legendary Willie Dixon and stuff like that --
Weir: -- but you know, maybe he's gettin' old or something like that. Maybe he doesn't have the grip that he used to have, the edge that he used to have. And he was sitting back there, saying, "Go ahead and sing it now. You know, you play it and sing it, too." And so I figured, well, I gotta to that, you know. We're working with him. And so we started playin' it. And I read the lyrics off the page, and when I was done, I was transported somewhere else. I was speechless at what had just happened. Just the elegance of the statement that had just come through my lips. And he'd been watching me. You know, he's an old guy, he's seen me go through all these changes, he'd been watching me. And so, I'm sitting there with my mouth open and my eyes just sort of *wide* open, and he's just crackin' up. "Now you see, now that's the wisdom of the blues."
Weir: And it was quite a moment for this boy.
Gans: It just didn't need any more than was there, is that what you're saying?
Gans: This is the guy that wrote "Spoonful" and "Back Door Man" and --
Weir: "Little Red Rooster," all that stuff.
Gans: -- "Rooster," yeah.
Wasserman: Yeah, he was a wise old guy.
Weir: "Whole Lotta" -- no, that was John Lee Hooker.
Gans: "Hoochie Coochie Man," "The Same Thing" --
Weir: Oh, "The Same Thing," all that stuff. You know, about half the great blues songs ever written were Willie Dixon['s].
Gans: And he was a bass player?
Weir: Yeah, he was a bass player and producer?
Gans: And who did he play with?
Wasserman: Upright bass player, yeah, and producer --
Weir: "Wang Dang Doodle," you know, he wrote all the stuff. You look on a Howlin' Wolf record, on a Muddy Waters record, he was the guy, he was Chess Records.
Gans: Well, he came to the right place for extended chord changes, didn't he?
Gans: And then he taught you a thing or two about simplicity.
Gans: That's very cool.
Gans: Let's take a couple more calls here and I'll try and find the next cut on the unindexed DAT. [chuckle]
Wasserman: Good luck.
Gans: Hello, you're on the air with Bob and Rob.
Caller: I was wondering what the status is of all the unreleased material from the album that never made it?
Weir: It's in the can right now. We're going to get back around to it, honest --
Weir: -- I actually can't wait to do that, but you know, we got this tour to do, and then everybody's got this project and that project, and we gotta clear 'em all off the decks and then we'll get to it. But there's no infernal rush; I mean, the stuff is not goin' anywhere.
Caller: Are any of your tunes from the album -- do you think they'll make their way into some of the Ratdog sets?
Weir: You bet. We're working on that now.
Caller: Great. All right, well, thanks a lot.
Weir: You bet.
Caller: Take care.
Gans: Hello, you're on the air with Bob and Rob. [silence] Are you there?
Weir: No, you're not.
Gans: Well, I swear to God, I got this thing -- I got the right button pushed this time. We'll try this one. Hello? [silence]
Weir: Nice work, David.
Gans: Now let's see if I can get line 2 to work. Hello, are you there? [silence] Oh, come on.
Weir: I have a feeling line 2 doesn't work.
Gans: There we go.
Weir: Ah, there we go!
Caller: All right, all right. First, my name is Greg. I'm out in San Francisco. I wanna say thank you, Bobby, for all the good times in the years past.
Weir: Pleasure's mine, thank you.
Caller: And I just wanted to ask, how come Ratdog does not allow taping?
Weir: Um, yeah, there's a good question. I think we're maybe going to change that, but I'm not sure. The rationale was that we got a buncha -- we gotta make a record, which means we gotta make a record *deal*. And the record company, whatever record company we go with, would probably frown on that, but we're about to throw up our hands and say, well, what the hell.
Caller: Well, great. I think all the tapers out there and all the fans would definitely appreciate it. And my other question is -- you know, all the fans are buying the "Dick's Picks" albums as fast as we can. What can we do to come out faster?
Weir: I don't know. Ah...
Wasserman: Send Dick a letter.
Weir: Yes, send Dick a -- well, there are only so many guy who are stayin' home and doing that. There's Phil [Lesh] and [John] Cutler and Dick [Latvala], and that's the crew, pretty much. And Jeffrey Norman, a little bit, the engineers. And they can only do 'em so fast.
Gans: Bob is busy makin' music, so I take it you're not hangin' out in the archive listening to old Grateful Dead tapes?
Weir: Not a whole lot, no.
Gans: Do they run 'em past you for approval?
Weir: Uh, they try.
Caller: And what have you thought of the last few releases?
Weir: I have not heard them. Really, I don't have time to review that stuff. I wish I did, and at some point I will, but -- I listen to old stuff every now and again, for reference, but as for listening to a whole old album, I'm not going to have time for that for the next little while. I'm trying to put together a band, and a musical theater piece, and stuff. Projects that are on my front burner that don't include the past right now.
Gans: Some of us are busy hangin' out in the past, like me and Dick, and some of us are hangin' out in the future, like Bob and Rob.
Weir: I'm tryin' to bring a little of the past to the future, and all that *kind* of stuff. But, really, the thing is, I played that stuff. I was there and I played it. And, you know, it may be that emotionally, I'm not ready to sit there and dote over the past right now, either. I've sort of got my eyes to the horizon right now.
Gans: That makes sense. Okay?
Caller: All right, well, thanks a lot.
Weir: You bet.
Caller: Take care.
Gans: Thanks for calling. Okay, let's try one more; see if I can make line 3 work. Hello, you're on the air. [silence] All right, I give up. That one's not connected; I swear to God that thing is not connected. All right, I've got the [laugh] --
Weir: Then why is it winking at you?
Gans: -- these guys are giving me such a look.
Wasserman: You sure you paid the bill?
Gans: I -- no, I only come in here for two hours a week.
Weir: No, *we* pay the bills.
Wasserman: That's right, non-profit.
Gans: That's right, *listeners* pay the bills... By making a contribution to this listener-sponsored station. But hey, we'll get to that at the end of the month.
Gans: Now I've got -- I think I've got the right starting place for this little bass solo into "Throwing Stones" from the forthcoming Bob and Rob record, so let's just cue that up. and I'll see if I can't wrestle this third phone into compliance.
[Music: Bob Weir and Rob Wasserman, bass solo -] "Throwing Stones" -- 12:40]
Gans: I wouldn't do this, but Bob Weir told me to. He said, okay, you can fade it now.
Gans: I need to tell you that you're listening to KPFA or KPFB in Berkeley, or KFCF in Fresno, where we don't usually fade songs out in the middle, unless the guest demands that you do so.
Wasserman: We're thinkin' radio here.
Weir: Right then.
Gans: [chuckle] Now, what were we going to talk about? Playin' acoustic instruments, and you're going to be doing that on the Furthur Festival tour.
Weir: Yeah, a little bit. We got another slot that we're going to fill in sort of a round-robin sort of manner with -- it started out Rob was going to do a solo, and then we expanded the slot so that he and I could do a bit that kind of stuff that you just heard. And then we thought, well, you know, from time to time, why don't we have Bruce [Hornsby] come up and play with us, or Jorma [Kaukonen], or -- so, as it stands now, we're just going to come up with a bunch of different -- we're going to do it different every night, is all.
Gans: So the Furthur Festival again with have the main stage and a thrust stage, since there's stuff goin' on in between sets.
Gans: Let's go over the lineup you got. Ratdog; you got Mickey's -- he's doing a Planet Drum kind of thing this time --
Gans: -- Arlo Guthrie will be the sort of MC, and performing.
Gans: Who is this Sherri Jackson? Tell me about her; do you know?
Weir: She's a guitarist/singer/songwriter.
Gans: She going to be workin' solo?
Weir: I think so, yeah.
Gans: Okay, we got moe., a *great* young band. Have you guys seen moe.?
Weir: No, I haven't seen 'em.
Gans: Oh, man. They are a lot of fun.
Gans: They'll give you guys a run for your money.
Weir: All right!
Gans: The Black Crowes are sort of the top of the bill?
Gans: How'd they get involved? What do you know about them?
Weir: We played them them -- the Grateful Dead played with them a couple years back in Tampa, and it was fun.
Gans: They like the Grateful Dead, too, I think.
Gans: I'm looking through here trying to make sure I got -- did I list everybody?
Weir: I'm not entirely sure --
Gans: Well, Jorma's going to be on the road.
Weir: Yeah. I listed Jorma.
Gans: And Bruce will be playing. Will he have a band?
Weir: I'm not entirely sure what that setup looks like yet.
Gans: Okay. But in between the main stage stuff there will be the stuff goin' on down front, kind of --
Gans: -- and that's where you guys will do this extra thing.
Gans: And that'll be different every time. We like that. We like it to be different every time.
Weir: Me, too.
Gans: And you had different lineups for the jam at the end of the show each time last --
Gans: Will that be happening again?
Weir: More so, yeah.
Gans: More so.
Weir: We're going to get together a few days -- we didn't do this last year, but this year we're going to get together for three or four days in Florida, where the tour starts, and just sort of hammer out some stuff with various ensembles, for the jam, so that they'll -- so we have a little more to work with than we did last year. All that stuff was thrown together at the last moment.
Gans: Mm-hm. So you're going to put a little more thought into it this time.
Gans: Sounds like fun. And we might as well give the dates. This thing begins on June 20th in Florida and winds up August 3rd in Irvine, and I think the Shoreline date is August 2nd, and there are a few TBAs to be filled in here and there, I think, on the tour.
Gans: You can find out all about it by calling that old familiar GDTS phone number, which is now Grateful Dead Ticket Sales-TOO, at (415) 457-6388, or you can do it on the World Wide Web at www.dead.net. Are you involved in DeadNet at all, Bob?
Weir: Naah, I stay the hell off the 'net as much as I can. It's a time sink. I just don't have time for it. I'm too damned busy, uh, making music, making arrangements to make more music, and all that kind of stuff. And the 'net -- I would love to do it; it seems fascinating to me, but I'm petrified of losing a second --
Weir: -- that I might be able to dedicate to these projects I got.
Gans: You sound like the White Rabbit, from "Alice in Wonderland."
Gans: "I'm late, I'm late, for a very important date!"
Weir: Yeah, pretty much.
Wasserman: Actually, I just started using my computer to get on the 'net, and it's pretty frustrating, 'cos I'd find something I want to read, and then a message would come on saying, sorry, the system has screwed up and you gotta start your computer over again.
Wasserman: You know, for an hour, trying to find this thing. So, I just figured I better go back to practicing on the bass.
Gans: Well, you could provide a little content. I think it's more like, are we going to bump into you surfing on the Internet, it's more like --
Weir: Well, that *will* happen.
Gans: -- you know, there's the Phil Zone; is there --
Weir: That may happen; I'm getting a little wireless modem thing for my Newton.
Weir: And, you know, to while away the hours on the bus, I might actually do a little of that this summer. But as for right now, I'm --
Gans: Coming soon to a chat room near you.
Gans: [laugh] Okay. Let's take another call here. Hello, you're on the line with Rob and Bob. [silence]
Wasserman: Oh, boy.
Weir: They're sleepin.'
Gans: Uh, really, I tried. I did my best. Let's see if this one -- are you there?
Caller: Hi, David. Hi, Rob; hi, Bob.
Caller: I just wanted to say thank you, David, for all the great years of programming, a real treat. Bob, I saw you and David Murray upstairs at the Fillmore in the bar before his show, and wanted to thank you but didn't want to hassle you.
Caller: I want to thank you for all the nine years or so of live music you gave me, and for the music that still continues today with Ratdog.
Weir. Why, thanks.
Caller: I got two questions. One, I'm sorta curious -- those sweet buses you got outside last year on the Furthur Festival --
Caller: -- you guys actually travel around in those, or do you use them more as a base?
Weir: No, we just like to show 'em off.
Gans: No, they're actually --
Weir: Because they're lookin' pretty good. No, actually --
Caller: Well, when you're goin' from, say, Colorado out to the West, do you really ride around on the old bus?
Weir: Why, you bet.
Wasserman: Actually, you know, those vehicles from Mad Max movies?
Wasserman: That's what we really use. [chuckle]
Weir: We're outfitting this year's buses with cowcatchers, and rocket launchers and stuff like that.
Weir: We're going to have a little more fun this year.
Caller: Well, I saw 'em up high in a room from Reno last year, and they looked pretty nice.
Weir: Well, you know, and they got bunks in 'em, and stuff like that, so we snooze from Colorado to wherever we're going.
Caller: Good deal.
Gans: Can you sleep on the bus, really?
Weir: Oh, yeah.
Wasserman: We actually even write music on the bus, and practice.
Weir: Yeah, we got a little sorta studio set up in the back, and all that kind of stuff.
Gans: Yeah, that's cool.
Caller: Well, I've seen you go from the Valentines to Ratdog Revue to the Hog Farm Pignic, and just wanna say you've gone a long way, and it's great stuff today, and I think all the changes are wonderful. And I guess if you could, you know, give me an idea about the Satchel Paige thing you're workin' on --
Gans: Oh, yes.
Caller: -- that'd be great.
Weir: Well, okay, here's the deal. This takes a little while in the telling, but -- should I get started now?
Gans: Might was well.
Weir: Uh, a number of years ago, six or eight years ago, in a bar in Mexico, I was talkin' to this guy I'd just met there. And it turns out he was a writer, and, you know, "What are you down here for?" "Well, I'm working on a screenplay here." And he told me about the screenplay. And just before I'd left for Mexico on that trip, you know, I'd pack my guitar down there and find a little place on the beach and just hang --
Weir: --um, I met, or I was reading in the Chronicle in the sports section about the great Satchel Paige, about whom I'd heard stuff all through my life, but for some reason a little bell went off, and I figured, okay, there's a song here somewhere: The Ballad of Satchel Paige. 'Cos, you know, there are really no black folks in the American pantheon.
Weir: Except for maybe Uncle Remus, and that's horseshit, if I may say so.
Gans: Well, you're not really supposed to use that word, Bob.
Gans: All right.
Weir: And here's a guy, if anybody -- he was the greatest pitcher who ever lived, at least arguably, and probably pretty damn for sure he was also an incredibly colorful individual. And I read a little bit about him, and so I figured, okay, this guy's worth a song. Maybe we can see if we can elevate him, install him as a real American hero. And so I was talking to this guy I met in the bar in Mexico, about -- I was sort of waxing profuse about the guy's accomplishments and what he amounted to, in my view, and all that kind of stuff, and I didn't even *know* much back then about him. I'd read a little bit, got a book outta the library and stuff like that. And I was in full rave. I was a few beers in and I was in full rave at the particular point.
Weir: And I said, at one point, I said, you know, it'd make a great musical. Then I kept on raving, and the guy stopped me and said, you oughta do that. And I said, "yeah," and kept raving. He stopped me two or three more times, and finally, finally I realized, the guy's right. It would make a great musical, or at least *I* was right, it'd make a great musical. And who was going to do it? And so I started thinkin' about that. Musical theater. I had *never* thought about doing anything remotely like that. But, here's a great place to hang your hat if it's musical theater you're thinkin' about, 'cos the guy's life and times -- he grew up, you know, from the late nineteen oughts through -- his career went all the way through the '60s.
Gans: And he finally hit the majors toward the very, very end.
Weir: Yeah, the last third of his career, I guess, he played in the major leagues. And he was one of the -- he was probably *the* major reason that they finally had to cave in and let black players play in the major leagues. 'Cos people were -- white people were filling stadiums just to see him pitch, with the black teams.
Weir: And the guy was an incredible showman. He was a clown, he was a -- and a real showman as well. In the middle of a -- if the bases were loaded and stuff like that, he'd point to the outfield and tell everybody to come on in, hit the bench. And he'd pitch to however many batters were left in that inning with nobody in the outfield.
Wasserman: Jesus! [chuckle]
Weir: Stuff like that. You know, you don't see a lot of that in baseball these days.
Gans: That's nerve.
Caller: That's great. That sounds like a great project.
Weir: And all through his life and times, he grew up -- he was born in Mobile, Alabama, and if you trace his life and times, you find yourself basically on the chitlin circuit, where all the black, all the Negro League baseball teams played. Well, those were also all the same towns where the blues and jazz clubs and barrooms and dance halls -- all the great music from that era, from the '20s basically through the late '40s. And there's a whole lot of great music. In fact, probably the best music the world has ever seen --
Weir: -- came from that era, and from that little dynamo that happened in that era in that locale. And the ballplayers used to all go to the clubs at night, and hang with the musicians, and then during the day the musicians would all come out to the ballparks, and hang with those guys. And they created a society and a culture; it was real renaissance that happened in this country. And the culture and that society that grew up within that renaissance, in Kansas City and Memphis and New Orleans and Chicago and New York, Baltimore, Atlanta -- where they had all that going, the chitlin circuit -- they came out of the Depression, for instance, like four or five years before the rest of American society did, because of the wealth that was generated between the music and the ballplayers.
Weir: People would come to see Satchel Paige and the Negro League teams play. And then at night, they'd go to the clubs and the dance halls and stuff, and dance. And there were hotels and businesses -- those people were wearing Italian suits, and drivin' Cadillacs and all that kinda stuff --
Weir: -- in the middle of the '30s.
Gans: Was this more or less invisible to mainstream, white society?
Weir: No, white society knew about it, but it didn't get a lot of play in the newsreels, and -- everybody loved the music, and as soon as Jackie Robinson went into the majors and broke the [color] barrier, and the floodgates opened, and all those great black players went to the major leagues, that whole thing crumbled.
Weir: And so -- it was right before television happened, so television never caught that era, and the great jazz bands hit the white country club circuit, and that's where you heard them. You didn't hear them in the -- they got off the chitlin circuit because that whole economy was destroyed at that point. Well, anyway, there's a story to be told that could easily be forgotten, just sort of passed over by time. And it'd be a real sad thing, because there's some wonderful stuff that happened back then. Not just the music, but the whole elegance and the panache of that era that, you know -- there's a story to be told there. And so I put a friend of mine on the road for a couple of years to go out and interview all the old ballplayers that we could find, and all the old musicians. And we have days and days of archived tapes and videotapes and stuff like that, of these old black guys, many of whom are dead now, just in the last few years. And we're assembling all that, and we have a book written now, and I'd say about 95 percent of the music written, and we're trying to get a director for the piece, and we're going to try to put it on Broadway.
Caller: Wow, that sounds great. I look forward to seeing that.
Gans: Yeah, thanks for telling the story. That's great.
Caller: Well, thank you for answering my question, and I look forward to seeing you at the Headwaters benefit and again on the Furthur Festival. Will you guys be sorta headlining that again?
Weir: The Furthur Festival? Actually, no, the Black Crowes'll be headlining it this year.
Weir: But we'll be there, sure as well.
Gans: All right.
Caller: Great. Again, thank you for everything.
Weir: And you. Thanks for enjoying it.
Caller: And I look forward to seeing you soon.
Gans: Thanks for calling. Let's take this opportunity to mention this benefit that's coming up here, Wednesday, May 28th. It's called "ForEverGreen;" it's a benefit for the Natural Resources Defense Counsel's Forest Campaign, and Headwaters Forest Protection Program. It features Bob Weir/Rob Wasserman and Ratdog, Bonnie Raitt, John Popper and Bob Sheehan of Blues Traveler, and Charlie Musselwhite.
Weir: Mm-hm, and a couple other folks, but I won't mention them, 'cos they don't want to be talked about.
Gans: [whisper] Secret special guests.
Um, is there going to be some collaboration among the musicians?
Gans: So Bonnie's going to sit in with you guys, maybe, and play a little slide and stuff?
Weir: That's the plan.
Gans: All right! So that happens at the Warfield on May 28th, doors at 7, show at 8. Tickets are being sold by the Natural Resources Defense Counsel for the main floor table and chair reserved seating, and unfortunately, I do not a phone number here for that. If anybody knows that number --
Weir: Call NRDC.
Gans: NRDC. Is that in San Francisco?
Weir: Yeah, I think so.
Gans: Natural Resources Defense Council in San Francisco. There are also balcony and upper balcony seats on sale at BASS and the Fillmore box office. It sounds like it might be a lot of fun.
Weir: And they are goin' hand over fist, too. So hurry.
Gans: So get in there and get a ticket while you can. And of course, again let me just mention that Furthur Festival thing, since that's sorta what we're here to plug, and that begins June 20th in Florida and snakes across the country for a few weeks and winds up back here on the 2nd of August at Shoreline. I'm sure there are still tickets available for that. You can find out more on the DeadNet page at www.dead.net, and also by calling the Grateful Dead Ticket Sales hotline at (415) 457-6388. Let's just get another caller on the line.
Gans: Hello, are you there?
Caller: Yeah, I am.
Caller: Hi, Bob, this is Andy.
Weir: Hi, Andy.
Caller: And I'm very interested in some of the formation of Ratdog. I know you spoke about that earlier. In particular I'm thinking of the Earth Day benefit that you played in mid-1995. And it was really great to hear Matthew Kelly and Jay Lane at that gig.
Weir: Okay, I remember that one.
Caller: Did that happen to be the first gig that they played at?
Weir: Yeah. That was the first gig that we had that ensemble together for.
Caller: Okay, that was very interesting. And, um, did you have any idea what was happening there?
Caller: Had you planned on creating a band at that point?
Wasserman: That was a band.
Weir: That was a band, and we were in deadly earnest, sir.
Weir: We knew exactly what we were up to. That was a calculated move. We went and played that gig just like we thought we would.
Caller: Well, and you played electric guitar better than I'd ever seen you do before --
Weir: Well, thanks.
Caller: -- so that was really great. Um, how about the name Friends of Moctezuma? Are you going to tell me that those things just come to you, or do you have any insight on that name?
Wasserman: That name comes through us.
Weir: [chuckle] All I can tell you, stuff just comes to me, Andy.
Gans: There was another band name you mentioned off mic a little while ago.
Wasserman: A couple of names we didn't use.
Weir: Well, a couple of names that we've been through -- for a while, we were The Chewtoys.
Gans: Chewtoys! [laugh]
Weir: And for a while, we were The Fabulous Woodies, and, uh --
Wasserman: Scaring the Children.
Weir: Scaring the Children, that's already...
Wasserman: We did, yeah; that lasted a little while.
Weir: Yeah. Actually, that lasted a year or two.
Wasserman: They banned us in Canada.
Weir: Yeah! We were actually -- in Canada, they would not put the name on. Scaring the Children -- they would not put the name on the marquee.
Weir: "Ah, you cant do that here."
Weir: "I don't know what you folks down there do, but not here, you don't."
Weir: I had *no* idea what they were objecting to.
Gans: Well, thanks for calling!
Caller: Thank you.
Gans: Let's talk about Rob Wasserman a little bit, you know.
Gans: This guy had a career before he hooked up with you --
Gans: -- and has actually accomplished quite a bit. I first heard of you in connection with the David Grisman Quintet.
Gans: And then there was that solo album, and then there was a duos album --
Gans: Duets, excuse me, and a trios album.
Gans: And you've done a lot of work with Bruce Cockburn, and lots of people.
Wasserman: Ricki Lee Jones --
Gans: Lou Reed.
Wasserman: -- Lou Reed, for a long time.
Gans: He gets around.
Wasserman: Who, Lou?
Wasserman: Oh, me. Yeah, yeah, I guess I did, or do. And, um --
Weir: He's goin' to Finland, the end of this month, for three days.
Wasserman: To part of some international producers' conference. I'm the only musician. I'm supposed to lecture for four hours on I don't know what.
Weir: You're going to lecture for four hours?
Gans: You going to tell producers --
Weir: You're going to need some speed, son.
Wasserman: I've never even talked for four hours before, so --
Weir: I've never heard him talk for more than about 30 seconds at a time. [chuckle]
Gans: Not a big windy guy. That should be interesting.
Wasserman: I'm going to have to make some notes, I think. [chuckle]
Gans: Are you going to tell producers what musicians want?
Wasserman: I'm not sure what I'm going to say at this point.
Gans: Are they payin' you the big bucks to go there and talk for four hours?
Wasserman: Just some sardines, I think. I don't know.
Weir: [laugh] And all the [unintelligible] that you can choke down.
Gans: I hope you tape the lecture, so we can put it on the air here and everybody can hear what you have to say, to the producers of -- is it producers of Finland, or the producers of Northern Europe? Is this a NATO thing?
Wasserman: Producers from China -- one from China, one from South Africa, one from -- they're from all over the world.
Wasserman: And yeah, it's one of my next things. I'm also starting working on my next record, which -- solo record, which is going to be a bass-led record with the bass playing melodies, the bass playing the bass lines, over grooves, rhythm grooves, which is a departure for me. Instead of no drums, it's going to have [a] real groove-oriented thing happening.
Gans: Ah. Sounds interesting. So you continue to have a thriving career outside of Ratdog.
Wasserman: Yeah, I guess. And then this album which I put together, which I'm real excited about, 'cos it really surprised me, surprised everyone -- Bobby and me, to go back and hear the roots of our initial meeting, our friendship, where it came out of; and Ratdog, where it came from. And when I used to just play the acoustic bass exclusively. It's really great to hear it again, and I'm glad it's coming out this summer.
Gans: Now, that's going to be sold on the Furthur tour, and possibly through Grateful Dead Merchandising --
Gans: -- at first --
Gans: -- so you gotta go to the gig to get it.
Weir: [laugh] That's all we can afford to print up right now, so we're going to take 'em all with us.
Wasserman: [laugh] This is a homemade project.
Gans: And you can also get one of those T-shirts, I guess, right?
Weir: Right, you can grab a T-shirt or two.
Gans: You can have a Ratdog T-shirt. I do like that phrase.
Weir: Free snakes and lizards for the kids.
Gans: [chuckle] I happen to have Bruce Cockburn's most recent record cued up here, which features Rob Wasserman on basically all the cuts, and Bob Weir on one cut.
Gans: Now, you've done some writing with Bruce. Doesn't he have a co-writing credit on a song or two of yours?
Weir: Ah, yeah. I don't remember which ones, and there're more to come, too.
Gans: Great. How'd you --
Wasserman: "Shoulda Had Been Me," remember.
Weir: Yeah, yeah, yeah.
Wasserman: For "Satchel Paige."
Weir: Yeah, for the Satchel Paige thing.
Weir: There's more.
Wasserman: We've -- yeah, he's a great guy, a great writer.
Gans: Boy, he sure is. He, of course, wrote "Waiting For a Miracle," which Jerry did a fine job with.
Weir. Right; he also wrote "If I Had a Rocket Launcher," which was one of my personal faves.
Gans: Well, let's just listen to this. This is from Bruce Cockburn's most recent record, called "The Charity of Night," and the name of this cut, if I have it right, is "The Whole Night Sky."
[Music: Bruce Cockburn, "The Whole Night Sky," from "The Charity of Night" -- 3:42]
[Music: Chalice, "Sugar Magnolia," from "Reggae Celebrates the Grateful Dead, Vol. 2" -- 3:52]
Weir: All right!
Gans: That's a -- the name of the band is Chalice. That's from volume 2 of "Reggae Celebrates the Grateful Dead," coming out from Pow Wow Records. And just by fortunate coincidence, that came in the mail today. So I thought I'd whip it on ya!
Weir: Right! Well, that's kinda cool. I like that a lot.
Gans: It is kinda cool.
Weir: We might have to work it up that way, every now and again.
Wasserman: [chuckle] Could be Ratdog.
Gans: Well, that brings up a question. How do you guys choose your material.
Weir: Ahhh, yeah. [chuckle]
Gans: Oops, next question.
Weir: Right. Or go to a commercial.
Wasserman: "Go to a commercial"!
Gans: Bob has a way of letting you know when he doesn't want to answer a question. Okay, let's talk another call instead, that'll teach ya. Hello, you're on the air.
Caller: Am I really?
Caller: Hi, my name's --
Gans: Watch your language.
Wasserman: She's been cut off five times.
Gans: Say again?
Caller: My name's Buffy.
Caller: Hi, how are ya?
Weir: Just fine, Buffy.
Caller: I go to school at Tulane.
Caller: I just saw y'all in House of Blues.
Caller: I wanna know is the Furthur Festival comin' there?
Weir: We'll be in the neighborhood. Well, kinda in the neighborhood. I think the closest we're going to be is probably Atlanta or um -- does it really matter? Florida.
Gans: Will you make it to where it is?
Wasserman: West Palm Beach.
Gans: I'm lookin' at the, uh --
Caller: Yeah, because me and my roommates Dawn and Kimberly will be roadtripping in the summer.
Gans: I'm not finding the --
Weir: Well, we look forward to seeing you all there.
Caller: Well, um, maybe we'll just follow y'all around.
Caller: That could be fun.
Weir: Damn sure going to be fun; you know that.
Caller: Do you remember us? We were all in the front row.
Weir: Right. How could I forget.
Caller: Right. You know, the blonde, the strawberry red, and then the, uh -- what's my other friend, uh --
Weir: Well, she --
Caller: -- auburn.
Weir: -- right, she had the wavy auburn hair.
Wasserman: [snicker] Oh, my God.
Caller: Right. And if I wanted to -- you're not on the Internet yet, are you?
Weir: Well, no, not just yet.
Caller: Does the dead.net have any fan mail thing?
Gans: Oh, yeah, there's a whole topic in there for messages to Bob that he's never read.
Caller: Hmm. Well, okay, we'll see you in Florida, then.
Gans: You'll just have to send me a stamped self-addressed envelope and I'll give you the license plate of their tour bus.
Gans: Thanks for calling.
Caller: Okay, thanks!
Gans: Okay, let's try again. Hello, you're on the air.
Caller: Hi, my name is Brendan, callin' in, sayin' hi to Bob and Rob, and David, and thanks, especially Bob, for everything.
Caller: And my just quick question is, I'm just curious what you like to listen to in your -- sounds like you don't have much of it, but your spare time.
Weir: [laugh] We're going to put a little of that stuff on.
Gans: I'll tell ya, from my few visits to Bob Weir's house, he has an extremely eclectic record collection; a very, very widespread taste in music.
Weir: I don't listen to a whole lot of current popular music; never have, really. Not since the '70s. Um, I like the --
Caller: What caught your ear lately?
Weir: Well, I been listenin' to a lot of old jazz, particularly, and old blues, because I've been working on this musical theater piece that incorporates a lot of that, and I love the idioms.The fusion of African and European musics together is -- it gets me nuts. The more I get into it, the crazier I get about it. And what we have here -- you wanna read the label, 'cos I forget the label of the record.
Gans: It's, uh, Ali Farka Toure with Ry Cooder. It's called "Talking Timbuktu."
Caller: Oh, good record.
Weir: This is a fusion of, yet another fusion of -- I guess Ali is actually, isn't he from Madagascar? I'm not sure.
Wasserman: I think so.
Caller: Actually, he's from Mali.
Weir: Mali --
Gans: Mali, there you go.
Weir: -- right, that's right. But --
Gans: And sings in eleven languages, it says here.
Weir: [chuckle] Right!
Wasserman: On one song. [chuckle]
Weir: This is another slant at the fusion of African and European music, but it's way cool. I listen to that stuff; I listen to modern classical a lot. Phil turned me on to that years ago. Um, what else do I listen to? God, I don't know, about anything that catches my ear.
Gans: All right, let's listen to this cut from --
Caller: Thanks a lot.
Gans: Oh, sorry to interrupt.
Weir: You bet.
Caller: Good night.
Gans: We're going to listen to Ali Farka Toure and Ry Cooder from an album called "Talking Timbuktu," which is actually where Ali Farka Toure is from --
Gans: -- TImbuktu. So --
Weir: That's Upper Volta, isn't it?
Gans: We'll read the liner notes while this is on --
Gans: -- and give you an opinion at the end.
[Music: Ali Farka Toure and Ry Cooder, "Sega," from "Talking Timbuktu" -- 2:56]
[Music: Charles Brown, "Who Will the Next Fool Be," from "One More for the Road" -- 4:03]
Gans: Well, Bob Weir brought in two records from home, and there they were. That shows you a little bit of the range we're talkin' about here. Ali Farka Toure and Ry Cooder, and that was Charles Brown, the East Bay's own.
Weir: The inimitable, old original. That's great stuff. Every last tune on every last record that I've heard of his is every bit as good as that if not better.
Gans: And he's got a very, very sweet presence, too.
Gans: I've seen him a couple of times at Sweetwater.
Wasserman: We played with him at Sweetwater once.
Gans: And I think I was at one of those gigs.
Wasserman: Jimmy Scott
Gans: One of John Goddard's legendary [Village Music] Christmas parties.
Weir: One hell of an evening, yeah.
Gans: Mm-hm. Lot of fun stuff. Uh, we're talking with Bob Weir and Rob Wasserman here, and have been for nearly two hours now. These guys, of course, are part of the --
Wasserman: Sorry, I was just -- you said two hours, and I started falling over.
Weir: Part of the distant past, very soon, but...
Gans: [chuckle] They're currently playing together as Ratdog, and they will be doing also this acoustic duo-type stuff and with various permutations on the Furthur tour that's coming up soon. It's been a pleasure to have you guys here. I was expecting Bob, and I got Rob as a bonus, and --
Gans: -- they've kept each other amused for most of this time here, and kept you amused, too. And just because that's the kinda perverse guy that I am, I'm going to make 'em take a couple more calls before I play some more Ratdog.
Weir: [laugh] Bring 'em on.
Gans: Hello, you're on the air with Rob and Bob.
Caller: Hey, how's it goin', you guys.
Weir: Just fine.
Caller: All right. Hey, I was wonderin' if you could talk for a sec about it feels to not be cornered into playing stadiums every time you go out these days, and -- how's life after the big Giants Stadium every summer?
Weir: I'll tell ya what. I don't much care as long as I'm playin'. Um, if the place is too big or too small, sometimes that kinds gets in the way, and too big really is too big, there's no question about it. We got to a point where we were comfortable playin' them, but it's not a big quality experience for anybody, not for the guys on stage and not for the folks beyond the, you know, 20th or 30th row. Um, and then when we go into the Sweetwater sometimes, that seems a little like playin' in a shoe box as well. But, you know, we get used to that by the end of the evening, too. You can get used to anything. But it's nice to play in places that were made for music. And these sheds that we're playing this summer are all made for music. So that's great. And we play theaters and stuff like that as well. And they were made for music as well.
Weir: And so, it really lends to the quality of the experience for everybody, I think.
Caller: Right on. Well, hey, thanks for all the permutations, and keep 'em comin'.
Weir: [laugh] Right. Permutation's my middle name.
Caller: All right, good night, you guys.
Gans: Thanks for calling. Well, I have another piece of music here cued up. This is from the most recent Ratdog tour. I'm not sure of the exact date of this, but it was sometime in the spring of '97, and it's a nice version of "Cassidy" that features the full lineup.
Wasserman: Oh, that's from the House of Blues --
Wasserman: -- New Orleans --
Gans: New Orleans.
Wasserman: -- whenever that was.
Gans: Oh, where you met up with --
Weir: Buffy, Dawn, and Kimberly. This one's for you.
Gans: [laugh] And this is going to be on a record that's called "Further More" that is also going to be sold on the tour, and it includes some highlights from last year's Furthur jams, a little bit of music from the other participants on the tour, and this live cut, from Ratdog. So thanks for being here, you guys --
Weir: All right!
Wasserman: Yeah, thank you.
Gans: -- and thank you all for listening, and for your phone calls.
Weir: [radio announcer voice] Great to be coming at ya from the big KPFA.
Wasserman: Ninety-four point one.
Weir: [chuckle] [radio announcer voice] Ninety-four point one!
Gans: I guess I'll have them record some IDs off the air.
Gans: Here we go.
[Music: Ratdog, "St. Stephen" (bass solo) -] "Cassidy," 4/7/97, House of Blues, New Orleans, LA -- 8:45]