Bob Weir and Wolf Bros NPR Tiny Desk Concert

National treasure, Bob Weir, has a new side project called Wolf Bros featuring super producer Don Was on bass and Jay Lane from Primus on drums. They sound pretty tight on this recent Tiny Desk concert.

Here’s all you need to know about the Wolf Bros:

The new trio teams Weir with Don Was, the ever-busy producer, bassist, and head of Blue Note Records who somehow found time to tour with Dead & Company (in between producing albums by Mayer, the Rolling Stones, and Gregg Allman), and Jay Lane, the RatDog and Primus drummer who first played with Weir in the early ’90s. These are players who know each other’s moves well, but the idea behind Bob Weir and Wolf Bros is a new one for them all. “For a while now I’ve been itchin’ to explore our songs in a trio setting,” Weir explains. “An upright bass, my acoustic or electric guitar, a drummer.” Last spring, he finally scratched that itch when he enlisted Was and Lane to try out some Dead songs and “tunes from my back pages.” The result was, as he says, “big fun.” Fans can expect a take on Dead classics that’s more acoustic and jazz-based than the freewheeling jams of Dead & Company. Then again, with Weir at the helm, it may be wiser to expect the unexpected.

New Music

Grateful Dead: Saint of Circumstance

This week’s album of the week is a brand new release of a Grateful Dead of a live show recorded at Giants Stadium in 1991. Featuring Bruce Hornsby on piano, the show opens with Jonny B. favorite, “Eyes of the World” – the only time the Dead ever opened with this song in their career.

From the All Music Review:

A somewhat legendary taper’s classic, the band’s second night at New Jersey’s 80,000 capacity Giants Stadium in the summer of 1991 was a predictably unpredictable behemoth lauded more for its oddities than overall cohesion. Boasting the relatively short-lived two-man keyboard battery of Bruce Hornsby (piano, accordion) and Vince Welnick (synths), the show’s lush tonal palette was a hallmark of this era. Out of the gate, they toss fans a curveball, opening for the only time in their career with the 1973 classic “Eyes of the World.” Ten minutes into its sprightly tangle, each member seems to be bouncing along on his own misty plane, punching out a litany of orange-hued notes before Jerry Garcia casually slips in a closing verse.

I’ll be listening to this one all weekend.


Robert Hunter

Dang, more bad rock and roll news. The world lost one of its great poets this week. Robert Hunter, lyricist for the Grateful Dead died on Monday. This one hits especially close to home because I consider the Grateful Dead to be my third favorite band of all-time (after Ween and The Beatles).

From Rolling Stone’s remembrance:

Considered one of rock’s most ambitious and dazzling lyricists, Hunter was the literary counterpoint to the band’s musical experimentation. His lyrics — heard in everything from early Dead classics like “Dark Star” and “China Cat Sunflower” and proceeding through “Uncle John’s Band,” “Box of Rain,” “Scarlet Begonias,” and “Touch of Gray”— were as much a part of the band as Jerry Garcia’s singing and guitar.

From the same article, this anecdote about “Dark Star,” which is one of the Grateful Dead’s best songs:

Hunter would join the band at rehearsals and write lyrics. During one session, Hunter began writing lyrics to accompany an instrumental the band was working on; the result, “Dark Star,” was both a landmark for the band and also the official start of Hunter’s new role as the lyricist in residence. Hunter was even aware of the song’s significance at the time. He told Rolling Stone that a couple weeks after writing the first verse at the rehearsal, he was working on the second in the Panhandle, the narrow park at the base of Golden Gate Park, when a guy came up to him and offered him a hit of something. “I don’t remember if I took it or not, but I said, ‘I’m writing the second verse for the song called ‘Dark Star’ for the Grateful Dead — remember that,’” Hunter recalled. “I had a prescience about the whole thing at that point. Once I started believing in that band, I thought, we’re going to go the distance.”