I think I can safely say I'm in love with Bobby Weir. No, it's not some latent homoerotic urge hitting me in my mid-30s. Has more to do with really, finally getting Bob and the muses that push him along. Without Jerry or Phil to share a spotlight with, he's done the most amazing thing--he's found a band he doesn't need to be the star of. He's one of the boys and he's the band leader, too. And it's so much fun to watch. That I got to do so 5 feet from lead guitarist Mark Karan in a tiny club with less than 300 people was just too too good.
Ratdog is moving in deep musical waters. Thick, swampy blues. Jams in the oddest places. And lots of lust and yearning and hope not just in the lyrics but in the very character of the music.
While I do adore Phil & Friends sometimes they exhaust me. The highwire act of their playing is something to behold but Ratdog throws a better party. Or put in bodily terms, Phil is all head, 'Dog is heart & loins. Lately I find I'm more excited about Ratdog gigs than Phil & his lads. Not a dig, just being honest.
Too many highlights: Big Boss Man goes down good when one is partying on a work night; The acoustic opening of the 2nd set with Bobby & Mark really locking on Mexicali Blues; Jeff Chimenti's continued growth as a mighty keyboardist in the Ray Charles tradition; the way everyone in this band smiles; the sense that all of them inhale and that stoney groove comes through in the music (the good green Cali smoke provided a sort of incense in the club last night that once or twice I caught band members softly inhaling with their eyes shut as they played. Funny shit); the restraints are officially off Mark Karan who is playing on the level of the greats (I pray one day he plays with former Black Crowe Marc Ford. They work similiar musical mines); Ashes & Glass - this is gonna go down in Dead history as a song to reckon with on the level of Shakedown or Bird Song or any of the best and the version from last night was soaring & ragged & perfect especially with Bob losing a few lines along the way and just going for it anyway.
This is all a rambling set of resonances the morning after with too little sleep and too much work to do and still the need to share this passion for the music with some good souls who'll understand.
Better & better everytime I see them and how can one ask for more than that?
Snappy, Oakland, CA