Archive for March, 2006

More musical adventures!

Wednesday, March 15th, 2006

Last week was really great fun, all of it. Started with the Waybacks recording session at KPFA (to be broadcast April 19 on KPFA), then continued through the Hotel Utah gig w/ Henry Kaiser et al., and then two nights at the Freight w/ the Waybacks. And just to put a cherry on top, on my drive home from the Freight Saturday night I finally solved a problem I’ve been cogitating on for months: a couple of lines in “Shove” have been bothering me, and I sorta knew what I wanted to do but hadn’t come up with the right replacement til now.

So many things I’m glad to know
Are contained within those pages
All our bonds are self-imposed
It’s the wisdom of the ages

Changed to:

So many things I’m glad to know
Are contained within that text
If you deal with what you’ve been through
You can deal with what comes next

My opening sets at the Freight were ludicrously short: the house manager told me I could have 15 minutes – 18 tops. So I did three songs on the first night, and managed to squeeze four in on the second. I also sat in with the Waybacks – “That’s Real Love” (Stevie Coyle loves this song!) on Friday, “Jackaroe” on Saturday. Got a great reaction to my solo sets and my sit-ins, sold more than $100 worth of CDs, got two pages of new names for the mailing list.
The Utah sets were underrehearsed, but everyone had a fine time anyway. And all these players – Josh Zucker (bass), Josh Kaye (keys), and David Phillips (pedal steel) – are interested in playing more gigs together. I’m hoping to keep Adam Perry in the loop on drums, but he’s committed to The Love X Nowhere and may not be able to make the time. I love Adam’s playing, but I’m starting to like the idea of having a band that plays around here regularly and that might entail having a drummer who isn’t so tightly bound to another project (and let’s assume things are going to get busier and better for Adam’s main squeeze). He’s my first-call drummer until he says otherwise.
There’s a new club in Oakland called The Uptown. Dan McGonagle is working there, and he wants me to play. Might do another night with Henry there in April.
I’ve also confirmed May 13 at the Larkspur Theatre Cafe, with the Rowan Brothers. We’ll share a band – Josh, Josh, and David, plus Jimmy Sanchez on drums – and we’ll all be together in the middle for a Rubber Souldiers set of Beatle songs. We’re going to make a big deal out of this, pushing for coverage in the Chron etc., so I hope some of you will come out and help make it a success.
Last night I went to Kathi’s All-Star Jam at the El Rio in San Francisco. David Phillips is in the band, Train Wreck. The rest of the band are not people I’ve heard before, but they hold it together pretty well behind a parade of mostly amateur musicians. Ben Fong-Torres was there, singing two parody songs he wrote for the occasion (I gather he does new ones every month). I followed Ben, and I took maximum advantage of the band and my own skills by choosing the very familiar “Willin'” and “Pancho and Lefty” – both of which I have made my own over the years. I got a lot of good feedback after my performance, and I wound up singing harmony and playing acoustic guitar behind several other players, too. Kathi has a great posse of regulars, and she runs a very welcoming jam.
Also of note this week: I, along with Angie Coiro and her producer Lisa Lindelef, took a Pro Tools lesson from Gregg McVicar on Monday. Thus inspired, I finally got my Pro Tools system updated and configured, and I started playing with it in my studio. I’ve recently rearranged things in the house so I can rehearse, compose and record in the office, and now I need to do some more rearranging so I can connect the Pro Tools rig, the guitar rack, and the studio monitors and all the outboard gear I’ve got in the closet.

Alan Dalton’s O&ITW Banjo Book

Sunday, March 12th, 2006

GD Hour 914 will feature an interview with Alan Dalton, a Florida musician who put together a book of banjo tablature for the first Old and In the Way album. The Old and In the Way Banjo Songbook includes a CD of Alan playing Jerry Garcia’s banjo parts at normal tempo and then at half speed, so pickers can hear in detail how the parts go. (Listen to the interview)

Dalton did all this work on his own initiative, to show his banjo students how Jerry played. He was inspired to look into the possibility of publishing his charts, and his friend Vassar Clements – the legendary bluegrass fiddler, who passed away last summer – directed him to Alan Trist at Ice Nine, which handles Jerry’s music publishing. Trist loved the idea, made the connection with Alfred Publishing, and Bob’s yer uncle!

Here’s a link to a review of the book. You can order it here.

Here’s a photo of Alan that I took at Bean Blossom, Indiana in July 2005:
Alan Dalton

Grateful Dead Hour #912

Sunday, March 12th, 2006

Week of March 13, 2006

Part 1 22:37
Grateful Dead 3/31/89 Greensboro NC

Part 2 34:23
Grateful Dead, One from the Vault
Rodney Crowell, The Outsider
Ralph Roddenbery Band, Let It In

Support for the Grateful Dead Hour comes this week from, an online store offering t-shirts, hats, stickers, tye dyes, gifts and other officially licensed merchandise from the Grateful Dead, Phish, Bob Dylan, Janis Joplin, Pink Floyd and many others.

And from Rock the Earth, defending the planet one beat at a time.

Walter Keeler (1957-2006)

Thursday, March 9th, 2006

We lost Walter this morning.
Walter Keeler was one of my “imaginary friends” – not imaginary at all, really, but one of the people I met and stayed in touch with primarily online, in The WELL. We had musical tastes in common, which is always a good basis for friendly dealings, and over the years I came to appreciate Walter’s deeply humane political and social views and his sharp wit. He was shy and quiet in person, but articulate and insightful in the text-only realm where we interacted most often. In political discussions (I am one of the moderators of a media forum in the WELL), Walter often summed up my own thoughts handsomely and incisively.
Walter was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer last fall. He started a blog to keep his friends and family apprised of his treatment and his state of mind. The first entry was posted on November 18, recounting the events of November 7. As you read the journal, I think you’ll get a sense of Walter’s nature: a sensible, well-adjusted soul who faced his struggle bravely and wisely.
Having been through my wife’s battle with cancer – which had a much more positive outcome – I can only begin to imagine what Walter’s widow is feeling today. Helen Rossi is as sweet and funny and wise as her life partner was, and her account of Walter’s struggle – posted on the WELL and not readable from the web – was a model of clarity and compassion.
Theirs was one of those marriages that clearly worked. I’m sending all the love I’ve got to you, Helen. Life must go on.
Walter, We’re going to miss you.

Gans gigs March 9-11

Thursday, March 9th, 2006

Tonight! Thursday, March 9, 9:00 pm
Henry Kaiser – guitar
David Gans – guitar and vocals
David Phillips – pedal steel guitar
Josh Kaye – keyboards
Joshua Zucker – bass and vocals
Jeff Blair – drums

The Hotel Utah Saloon
500 Fourth Street, San Francisco

Tickets are $7 at the door
Friday and Saturday, March 10 & 11, 8:00 pm

David Gans

Freight and Salvage
1111 Addison Street, Berkeley

Tickets are $17/50 advance, $18.50 at the door

Let’s vote in South Dakota

Thursday, March 9th, 2006

Molly Ivins on the South Dakota anti-abortion law:

The state legislature of South Dakota, in all its wisdom and majesty, a legislature comprised of sons and daughters of the soil from Aberdeen to Zell, have usurped the right of the women of that state to decide whether or not to bear the child of an unwanted pregnancy. THEY will decide. Women will do what they decide.


The South Dakota Legislature has made it a crime for a doctor to perform an abortion under any circumstances except to save the life of the mother. There are no exceptions for rape, incest or to preserve the health of the mother. Should this strike you as hard cheese, State Sen. Bill Napoli, R-Rapid City, explains how rape and incest could be exceptions under the “life” clause. Napoli believes most abortions are performed for “convenience,” but he told The NewsHour With Jim Lehrer about how he thinks a “real-life example” of the exception could be invoked:

“A real-life description to me would be a rape victim, brutally raped, savaged. The girl was a virgin. She was religious. She planned on saving her virginity until she was married. She was brutalized and raped, sodomized as bad as you can possibly make it, and is impregnated. I mean, that girl, could be so messed up, physically and psychologically, that carrying that child could very well threaten her life.”

Jack Mingo, by way of today’s Jon Carroll column, suggests a way we can help:

Cultural ornament Jack Mingo (who was helped in his scheming by Erin Barrett) describes the situation: “Fewer than 400,000 people (in South Dakota) voted in 2004. We can assume that not all of them are boneheads. After all, only about 60 percent — 232,545 — voted for GWB. 149,225 voted for Kerry. A recent senatorial race was lost by the Democrats by only about 500 votes. If we could convince a mere 90,000 of the Californians, New Yorkers and other Blue Staters who have long been grousing about overcrowding and high living costs to move there, we could make a huge impact on national politics.”


Using facts gathered from Minnesota Public Radio (Minnesota abuts South Dakota on the east and has some interest in the politics there), he outlines his fiendish plan. The quotes are from MPR; the ideas are from his brain:

1. You don’t have to move to South Dakota to register. You just have to vacation there long enough to have a temporary address at a campground, motel or RV park. “In Hanson County, population 3100, more than 800 RV’ers are registered. Most have never stayed in South Dakota for more than a few weeks.”

2. You don’t have to be in the state when the vote takes place. “In South Dakota about 70 percent of the RV’ers registered to vote have requested absentee ballots.”

3. It’s legal. The law was deliberately written to make “RV voters” possible. It’s a law apparently designed to help the Republicans, but we can make it blow up in their faces.

4. The tactic I’m suggesting is already being used on a smaller scale by the Republicans. In Minnehaha County, says County Auditor Sue Roust, “there’s a slight Democratic edge in registration. Whereas with the RV’ers, it’s Republicans 46 percent, Democrats 27 percent.”


It’d take some work, but think of this: If we were successful, girls in South Dakota would no longer be required to ruin their lives because of one bad decision they made when they were 16. That would be a thing.

DTTW pre-empted March 8

Wednesday, March 8th, 2006

Tonight’s DTTW is pre-empted by International Women’s Day programming.

The Waybacks are coming in anyway to record a set for broadcast in April, when their new CD is scheduled for release. From The Pasture To The Future is due out April 25 on Compass Records.

Back next week with Bill Kreutzmann, playing some music from his new collaboration Serial Pod.

Many musical adventures

Wednesday, March 8th, 2006

Interesting times! Monday night I rehearsed at Henry Kaiser‘s house for our show at the Hotel Utah Thursday. Also in the band is David Phillips, a terrific pedal steel player with whom I have wanted to work for years and years. I ran into David a couple of weeks ago at a benefit – he was in Lorin Rowan’s band, and I sat in and we had a fine time. We both agreed we want to work together, so I invited him to join us at this Hotel Utah gig. (Also with us will be drummer Jeff Blair, keyboardist Josh Kaye, and bassist Josh Zucker. Drummer Adam Perry had to withdraw due to a commitment with his main gig, The Love X Nowhere.)
Yesterday I confirmed a show with Lorin and Chris Rowan – adding them to a date I had already reserved at the Larkspur Cafe Theatre: May 13. We’ll do our “Rubber Souldiers” Beatle set in between my set and the Rowan Brothers’ set, and we’re going to share a band that includes Phillips, Josh Zucker on bass, and possibly Jimmy Sanchez on drums. This is exciting!
Yesterday I participated in a recording session in Novato with Ned Lagin and the great guitarist Terry Haggerty! Ned is a keyboardist who hasn’t played in public in 30 years – he was a computer music geek at MIT in the late ’60s and early ’70s, and he made very adventurous record called Seastones with Phil Lesh (and played electronic music with Phil between GD sets) in the mid-’70s. He’s been developing some new works and also reworking Seastones for a while now, and I am very happy to see him moving forward with all of this.
The session with Ned and Terry was great fun. We just plugged in and played for about three hours. Turns out Ned was imposing some structure, but I just went with the flow – and apparently I passed the audition.
The two of them have been getting together once a week for the last six weeks or so, and bringing me in was the next step in the evolution of what Ned expects will be a live performing ensemble. We’ll do this again soon, and Ned wants to move it to a recording studio and bring in a rhythm section.
After Terry went home, Ned and I played some more.
I was very happy with my playing in this free-form context, both with and without the loops. This was a great circumstance in which to use loops w/ other players – both Ned and Terry were very good at locking in w/ the loop, and I was in turn wise about when to drop the loop and let the live musicians evolve the jam.
AND I have an idea for future solo loop performances that I am very excited about: using both the old Loop Station and the new Echoplex! The Echoplex can be programmed to have multiple loops, and to automatically go into RECORD when you stop on the “next loop” button and the next loop is empty. I’ve done some experiments at home with this – I can cycle through two or three sections and add new material to each jam at will. That’s one great new capability – but what I can do with the other, separate loop device is something I have done in live situations a couple of times before (includng that thrilling jam out of “Psycho Killer” a couple of Invitationals ago) is make a loop that is not synchronized – record some swelling, sustained overdrive sounds for an arbitrary period, then add more swelling notes to create a sort of cloud of sustained sounds w/ shifting harmonic content. In a solo show, I start with that and then begin a more conventional loop jam in the Echoplex.
The trick w/ that will be getting out of the cloud loop. To do it properly will require a mixer, and tapping into my signal path in a couple of places. That way, I can fade the cloud jam out manually while the other loop continues.
Also this week: I am opening for The Waybacks at the Freight and Salvage Friday and Saturday nights. (Tonight we’re recording a Waybacks set at KPFA for broadcast in April, when their new CD comes out.)

Grateful Dead Hour #911

Sunday, March 5th, 2006

Week of March 6, 2006

Part 1 38:59
Grateful Dead 3/31/89 Coliseum, Greensboro NC

Part 2 18:21
Grateful Dead 6/20/91 Pine Knob Music Theater, Clarkston MI (Download vol. 11)

Support for the Grateful Dead Hour comes this week from MerleFest 2006, the 19th annual festival in celebration of the music of the late Merle Watson and his father Doc Watson. MerleFest 2006 takes place in Wilkesboro, North Carolina on April 27 – 30. Featured performers include Doc Watson, Richard Watson, The Waybacks with special guest Bob Weir, Hot Tuna, John Prine, Emmylou Harris, Nickel Creek, Peter Rowan, and dozens more. Complete lineup and tickets are available at 1-800-343-7857 and online at

And from Rock the Earth, defending the planet one beat at a time.

My Letter to the SF Chronicle

Friday, March 3rd, 2006

This letter appeared in today’s San Francisco Chronicle:
A thankless job
Editor — Poor, dear, Mike DeNunzio, chairman of the San Francisco Republican Party (Letters, “Pelosi’s dodge,” March 2). It’s his job to defend the indefensible, and so in Thursday’s paper — as so many times before — Mike issues his canned denunciation of those who fail to denounce those who denounce his failed president.
Get a clue, Mike: We who oppose the vicious, ignorant agent of corporate evil who heads your party are supporting the troops and defending America.

The Invitational w/ Henry Kaiser 3/9/06

Friday, March 3rd, 2006

Henry Kaiser, guitar
Jeff Blair, drums
David Gans, guitar and vocals
Josh Kaye, keyboards
Joshua Zucker, bass
Adam Perry, drums

Thursday, March 9, 9:00 pm
The Hotel Utah Saloon, 500 Fourth Street, San Francisco

Bob and the boys take some calls

Thursday, March 2nd, 2006

Between sets, the Ratdog boys came into the control room and took some calls from listeners.

Listen to it! (15 megabyte MP3)

That’s Jay Lane standing up w/ a headphone in his ear.
Photo by Susana Millman
Photo by Susana Millman

Standing: Mark Karan in the red shirt; Robin Sylvester with the long hair.Photo by Susan J Weiand
Photo by Susan J. Weiand

More photos from Sue Weiand here.

Dead to the World 3/1/06

Thursday, March 2nd, 2006

Sorry I didn’t get this up before the broadcast, but it was crazy in there and I never even got my laptop out of the backpack.

Bob Weir and Ratdog live in the KPFA performance studio!
Ratdog in the KPFA performance studio 3/1/06
Jam ->
Jack Straw ->
Dark Star ->
Odessa ->
Lazy River Road ->
Jam ->
Silvio ->
Tequila ->
Silvio ->
Tequila ->
Silvio ->
Help on the Way->
She Says->
Two Djinn->
Franklin’s Tower


Regarding that “Bobby: What the hell’s going on here!?” just before “Lazy River Road”:

I had asked if the band was going to stop at all during the set. I need to identify the station, tell the listeners what they’re hearing, plug the web site, etc. Charucki told me there’d be an opportunity after “Odessa.” So I got into position and waited for the band to stop.

They didn’t. They brought it down, and Charucki signaled me to talk – but NO WAY am I going to talk over the music! When I was a kid listening to the radio, we all HATED the DJs who talked over the music!

That’s why Bobby said what he said. And that’s why I kept my yap shut.