It's been a long, strange trip for Bob Weir, the guitarist and San Francisco native who co-founded the Grateful Dead with Jerry Garcia. Weir is obviously happiest when he's busy playing music, whether it's with ex-Dead bandmates in some permutation (The Other Ones, the Dead) or with Ratdog, the outfit he formed more than a decade ago. Calling from LA before a Ratdog show with co-tourmates String Cheese Incident, Weir was happy to reminisce with B-Sides about the past and touch on future plans.
B-Sides: This show you're playing is at the Fox Theatre, a place you're familiar with. Have any favorite memories of St. Louis offhand?
Bob Weir: You know, a million of them, actually. Too many to go into. Playing there with Johnnie Johnson and his friends had to be right up there.
When did that happen?
Three times, actually. Well, you know, Johnnie was in the band for awhile and then we got another piano player, 'cause he lived in St. Louis and it was too far for him to commute. Actually, the guy we've got was sort of hand-picked by Johnnie. But then whenever we'd come through St. Louis, he'd come and sit in with us. And a time or two he brought some friends. And it was sublime.
What do you like about touring with String Cheese Incident?
It just seemed a good fit. All I can tell you is, we sort of complement each other. We don't do what they do, and they don't do what we do.
Any plans to jam together?
I would expect. We didn't do that yesterday, because frankly we were too beat after the show. We had the opening slot yesterday, tonight we close, tomorrow we open again.
Do you have anything special or different planned for this tour?
We've got new material we're going to be trotting out. A lot of it's not yet learned by the band, but we've got a soundcheck to do that.
What's the makeup of your audiences?
You know, they go from about sixteen to sixty. It's a little like a country audience, only a little more colorful. There are a lot of folks out there of different ages, different demographics you'd call it. It's an interesting audience you get.
Why do you think you guys attract that diversity?
It's a certain kind of people. They're sort of kindred spirits. They're born that way; they require a little adventure in life. And they require a little adventure in their music. And we can provide that for them, and we're the same kind of folks. [Laughs] We speak the same language. Annie Zaleski
7:30 p.m. Saturday, July 8. Fox Theatre, 527 North Grand Boulevard. $31 to $41. 314-534-1678.
As the Crow Flies
A week before launching his band's double-bill tour with Goo Goo Dolls, Counting Crows guitarist David Immerglück took enough time out from his Master Cleanse all-lemonade diet to talk strings, speculation and jetstreams with B-Sides.
B-Sides: How did you transition from guitar to mandolin, and how do you handle the effects of feeling like a giant when you're playing it?
David Immerglück: [Laughs] That's great. I never really thought about the size thing or how ridiculous it is until other people point it out. And I can't quite pinpoint when I started playing mandolin. It was on tour with Camper Van Beethoven in the late '80s, and I had sort of nicked one from a friend of mine and brought it on the road for amusement. I don't know why, but we'd do these acoustic sets in the middle of the Camper Van Beethoven set, and for a laugh I started using it and ended up falling in love with it. I play the pedal steel and bass as well, and they're all in different tunings and after awhile you stop thinking instrument-centric and just start thinking about music. So I never really remember, "Oh, I'm playing mandolin now," or "Oh, I'm playing pedal steel now." I just think that I'm playing music. It's a weird thing. It's hard to describe. It seems the more instruments you play, the less you think about the instruments themselves.
What's the set list going to look like for this tour?
Our set list changes from night to night. A lot of people have been asking me that question, and we'll just be grabbing from our songbook every night.
I know there's some grumbling that the band released New Amsterdam: Live at Heineken Music Hall just so there's something to sell on the tour. Any response?
I love these people who grumble; it's hilarious. Maybe they should take over our career or something. Someone was telling me about someone who was on a Dylan session, I can't remember who it was. Dylan was cutting a vocal and the guy was very enthusiastic, and Dylan came into the control room and he started going, "Oh, I think it's great, but if you do this, if you change the melody on this one line....." There's silence in the room; everyone's like, "You don't ever say anything like that to Bob Dylan when he's in the recording studio." And Dylan looks at the guy and he goes, "Yeah, maybe if I listened to you, I'd have a career." So that's a mean, mean response to the grumblers. But you got me early in the morning before my caffeine, so.....
What's going on in the cover art? Is that a guy recovering a satellite?
I like to think that this guy's brain is sort of exploding and he's being propelled by the jetstream coming off the top of his head. I like that painting quite a bit. It's sort of how we all feel when we're on tour.
7 p.m. Friday, July 7. UMB Bank Pavilion, 14141 Riverport Drive, Maryland Heights. $19.50 to $67.50. 314-298-9944.
St. Louis Scene Trading Cards
Eric Damhorst & Matty Coonfield
Ages: 27 & 28
High Schools: Christian Brothers College High School; Kaney Valley High School in Ramona, Oklahoma
Can be found: Spinning records every Monday at the Upstairs Lounge's "Rock 'n Roll Night." Eric also spins at other clubs around town and works at the Record Exchange. Matty is an assistant manager at Tension Head and plays in both the Electric and Tone Rodent.
Career Highlight: Hearing a close friend lament the St. Louis scene, then renounce his damnation and say that perhaps St. Louis wasn't so bad after all after said friend came to a Rock 'n Roll Night at the Upstairs and saw kids dancing to music by German band Faust.