Puttin’ on the ’Dog: RatDog’s Fall Tour Is a Winner
By Blair Jackson (with Gary Lambert)
Well, another RatDog tour done come and gone (my, oh my!), and once again the feedback from the road was almost unanimously positive. We join RatDog fans everywhere in giving an enthusiastic high-five to Mr. Steve Kimock for filling in beautifully for the still-recuperating Mark Karan on lead guitar. Thanks, Steve! Get well soon, Mark!
Bobby celebrates his 60th birthday with Harper Simon
(center) and a bearded Sean Lennon. Photo: David W. Clark
Before we get into some of the tour highlights, we would be remiss if we didn’t start this report by mentioning the wild Bob Weir 60th Birthday fete at the Design Center Galleria in San Francisco on October 18 (two nights after his actual birthday. By the way, on the 16th itself, Phil Lesh gave a birthday shout-out to Bob during his own concert at the Lyric Opera House in Baltimore; a nice gesture!). Bob’s birthday celebration was a benefit for the Rainforest Action Network (with whom he’s been associated since the mid-1980s), raising some $270,000, and offered a fine night of music (and a bit of speechifying) to the 650 or so friends, family and fans who assembled in the unusual atrium-style venue. (You can see pix of what the Galleria looks like here.)
Our ace cub reporter and photographer on the scene, Dave Clark, tell us that before the music started, there was a high-spirited beverage (including “Bob Weir Bock Beer”!) and vegetarian/vegan nibblies party, as music played on the p.a. and a tower of video screens behind the stage showed photos of Bob and his family at play. Tea Leaf Green came on about 10:30 and played a handful of their tunes before Bob bounded onstage and joined the fray on “Garden II” (a TLG original). Then none other than Bill Kreutzmann, looking tan and fit from months in Kauai, joined in on the fun, pounding the skins during “All Along the Watchtower,” the Holland-Dozier-Holland cooker popularized by The Band called “Don’t Do It,” “The Other One,” The Beatles’ “I’ve Got a Feeling”—that last tune enlivened by the presence of John Lennon’s very musical son Sean on guitar!
Elvis Weir on Halloween. Photo: Kraig Fox
During the break that followed, Bob’s wife Natascha brought out a birthday cake and presided over the singing of “Happy Birthday” and there were other tributes to the Birthday Boy. The evening’s festivities came to a close with a mini-set by RatDog (sans Kimock and Karan, who were both in attendance but didn’t play) joined by Lennon and the progeny of another famous musician: Harper Simon, son of Paul. That set included “Eyes of the World,” the Sean Lennon tune “Headlights” (from his 2006 album, Friendly Fire), “West L.A. Fadeaway” and, finally, “Not Fade Away,” which again featured Bill K. and also Tea Leaf Green members Josh Clark and Trevor Garrod. A splendid time was had by all!
Now to the tour. Our intrepid East Coast correspondent, Gary Lambert, who caught five
shows in the first leg of the tour, writes:
From the very first notes of the very first show at the Casino Ballroom in Hampton Beach, NH, RatDog hit the road with all cylinders firing, and nary a sign of rust.
That they chose to kick off a tour with a deep plunge into the turbulent musical waters of the “Help On The Way/Slipknot!” combo (and they wouldn’t even get around to completing the circuit with “Franklin’s Tower” until the encore the following night) indicates just how confident of its powers this band is right now, and that confidence was justified time and time again by brilliant, fearless playing full of fire, wit and beauty.
The shows were full of surprises, including the return of some long-dormant gems to the repertoire, including RatDog’s first-ever performances of “Dire Wolf,” “Been All Around This World” and “Catfish John,” as well as a version of Dylan’s “Slow Train Coming.” Particularly touching was “The Green, Green Grass of Home,” revived by Bob for the first time since 1970, in tribute to country great Porter Wagoner the day after his passing.
Bob’s appearance in Vegas-era Elvis jumpsuit to sing “Werewolves of London” as the Halloween encore was a hoot and a howl (although a fan within earshot of your reporter seemed a bit unclear on the concept, remarking, “Oh, cool… Evel Knievel!”).
Thanks, Gary! That “Werewolves” encore was also notable for the appearance of both Rob Barraco and Dred Scott helping out on keys. A couple of other friends turned up at other tour stops, too: Phish bassist Mike Gordon sat in during most of the back half of the second set in Burlington, VT, on 11/2; and sax player Tim Price guested on a couple of numbers at the Reading, PA, gig 11/6. At the Albany show on 11/3, Bob unveiled a truly majestic version of “Days Between” you really owe it to yourself to hear (along with the great “At Siding> Terrapin Flyer” it goes into to close the second set. You can find an audience recording here on archive.org. Soundboard versions of that show and much of the tour (all of it, soon enough) are also for sale through the good folks at munckmusic.com. For all the latest RatDog news, setlists, statistics, photos and lots of other good stuff, check out the fine fan site at ratdog.org. And the cool, newly re-designed official band site can be found at rat-dog.com.
(* indicates acoustic songs; “stuff,” for those unfamiliar with RatDog terminology, refers to the freeform jam in the second set featuring the band members without Bob).
10/26/07 Casino Ballroom, Hampton Beach, NH
Jam> Help on the Way> Slipknot!> GDTRFB, Odessa, Dire Wolf, Book of Rules, Bury Me Standing, Greatest Story Ever Told> Silvio> Tequila>Silvio> Tequila> Silvio> Scarlet Begonias
The Winners*, When I Paint My Masterpiece*, Friend of the Devil*, Althea> Ashes and Glass> stuff> Standing on the Moon> Foolish Heart / Quinn the Eskimo, Ripple
10/27/07 Casino Ballroom, Hampton Beach, NH
Jam> Feel Like a Stranger> Easy Answers> Baby Blue> Mama Tried> Loose Lucy> Lucky Enough> King Bee> Ramble On Rose> Dark Star
Fever*, Dark Hollow*, Masters of War*, Good Morning Little Schoolgirl> The Last Time> stuff > Sugaree> Dark Star> One More Saturday Night / Franklin's Tower
10/28/2007 Lebanon (NH) Opera House
Jam> Here Comes Sunshine> Big River> Queen Jane Approximately> Slow Train Coming> Catfish John> Wrong Way Feelin'> Tennessee Jed> Playing in the Band
You Win Again*, Me and Bobby McGee*, Black-Throated Wind*> I Need a Miracle> Samson and Delilah> stuff> Ship of Fools> Playing reprise / China Cat Sunflower > I Know You Rider
10/30/07 North Fork Theatre, Westbury, NY
Jam> Shakedown Street, New Minglewood Blues, She Belongs to Me, Loser, Rooster, Easy to Slip, Bertha
Green, Green Grass of Home*, City Girls*, I've Been All Around this World*, The Weight, Milestones> Tomorrow Never Knows> stuff> Dear Prudence> Throwing Stones> Not Fade Away /Casey Jones
10/31/07 North Fork Theatre, Westbury, NY
Jam> Maggie's Farm> The Music Never Stopped> Senor> Weather Report Suite> Stagger Lee> The Golden Road#
Big Iron*, A Hard Rain's A-Gonna Fall*, Mississippi Half-Step> Uncle John's Band> Stuff> Knockin’ on Heaven's Door> St. Stephen> William Tell bridge> The Eleven / Werewolves of London # +
# with Rob Barraco (keys); + with Dred Scott (keys)
11/2/07 Burlington (VT) Memorial Auditorium
Jam > Jack Straw, Cassidy > Bird Song, Odessa, Lost Sailor > Saint of Circumstance, Shade of Grey, Hell in a Bucket
Blackbird*, Friend of the Devil*, Victim or the Crime*, Liberty> Two Djinn> stuff+> Come Together> Bird Song (reprise)+> Cassidy (reprise)+> Sugar Magnolia / U.S. Blues
+with Mike Gordon on bass
11/3/07 Palace Theater, Albany, NY
Jam> Terrapin, All Along the Watchtower, Lazy River Road, Big Boss Man, Even So> October Queen> The Deep End, Eyes of the World
Peggy-O*, Corrina*, Estimated Prophet> The Other One> He's Gone> stuff> Days Between> At a Siding> Terrapin Flyer / One More Saturday Night
11/4/07 Eisenhower Auditorium, University Park, PA
Jam> Truckin> Wang Dang Doodle> Brown-Eyed Women> Row Jimmy> Just Like Mama Said> It's All Over Now> She Says> Dire Wolf> Big Railroad Blues
K.C. Moan*, Me and My Uncle*, Looks Like Rain*, New Speedway Boogie> The Wheel> Samson and Delilah> stuff> Black Peter> Touch of Grey / Brokedown Palace
11/6/07 Sovereign Performing Arts Center, Reading, PA
Jam> Feel Like a Stranger> Easy Answers, It's All Over Now, Baby Blue> Walkin' Blues, Mission in the Rain> Money for Gasoline, Fly Away> West LA Fadeaway
Candyman*, Deep Elem Blues*, Mexicali Blues*, Good Morning Little Schoolgirl> Ashes and Glass+> stuff+> Sugaree> Lovelight / Ripple
+ with Tim Price on sax
11/7/07 The NorVa, Norfolk, VA
Jam> Tomorrow Never Knows> Playing in the Band> Ramble On Rose, Slow Train Coming> Catfish John, I Need a Miracle> Picasso Moon> Might as Well
You Win Again*, Desolation Row*, Bury Me Standing> Tuesday Blues> Iko-Iko> stuff> Wharf Rat> Around and Around / Johnny B. Goode
11/8/2007 Ovens Auditorium, Charlotte, NC
Jam> Help on the Way> Slipknot!, Dark Star> Odessa> Little Red Rooster> Josephine> Loser, She Says> Foolish Heart
A Hard Rain's A-Gonna Fall*, Quinn the Eskimo*, Silvio> Tequila> Silvio> Tequila> Silvio> Greatest Story Ever Told> Althea> stuff> Knockin’ on Heaven's Door> Dark Star> China Cat Sunflower> I Know You Rider / Gloria
11/10/07 House of Blues, Myrtle Beach, SC
Jam> Shakedown Street> Easy Answers, Senor> Loose Lucy> Lucky Enough> Easy to Slip> Bird Song> Bertha
Fever*, Dark Hollow*, Masters of War*, The Last Time> Ashes and Glass> stuff> Dear Prudence> Bird Song (reprise)> One More Saturday Night / Black Muddy River
11/11/07 Meymandi Concert Hall, Raleigh, NC
Here Comes Sunshine> Mama Tried> She Belongs to Me, Crazy Fingers> Take Me to the River> Stagger Lee> Supplication Jam> Weather Report Suite
City Girls*, El Paso*, When I Paint My Masterpiece*, Cold Rain and Snow> The Other One> stuff> Standing on the Moon> St. Stephen> William Tell bridge> The Eleven / Samson and Delilah
11/13/07, Mahaffey Theater, St. Petersburg, FL
Jam> The Music Never Stopped> Maggie's Farm, It’s All Over Now Baby Blue, Even So> October Queen> The Deep End> Tennessee Jed, Shade of Grey, Lost Sailor> Saint of Circumstance
K.C. Moan*, The Winners*, Friend of the Devil*, Money for Gasoline> He's Gone> Eyes of the World> stuff> To Lay Me Down> Throwing Stones> Not Fade Away / Ripple
11/14/07 Jacksonville (FL) Theatre
Jam> Feel Like a Stranger> New Minglewood Blues> Queen Jane Approximately, Just Like Mama Said, Wrong Way Feelin', She Says> Liberty, Terrapin
Artificial Flowers*, Catfish John*, Milestones> Mississippi Half-Step> Uncle John's Band> stuff> Stella Blue> Sugar Magnolia / At a Siding> Terrapin Flyer> Uncle John's Band (reprise)
11/16/07 House of Blues, Orlando, FL
Jam> Help on the Way> Slipknot!> Tomorrow Never Knows> Even So> October Queen> The Deep End> Loser> Brown-Eyed Women, Easy to Slip> Big Railroad Blues
Been All Around this World*, Me and My Uncle*, The Weight*, Jam> Althea> Ashes and Glass> stuff> Days Between> Two Djinn / Two Djinn (reprise)> Slipknot!> Franklin's Tower
11/17/07 Mizner Park Amphitheatre, Boca Raton FL
Jam> Jack Straw> Odessa> Little Red Rooster, Slow Train Coming, Dire Wolf, Lazy River Road> Dark Star
You Win Again*, Masters of War*, Friend of the Devil*, Money for Gasoline> Eyes of the World> stuff> Sugaree> Dark Star> Goin’ Down the Road Feeling Bad / Brokedown Palace, One More Saturday Night
wasn't Days Between unveiled on 11/3/07 Palace Theater, Albany, NY? not in Burlington?
unless you mean that every time you play a song you unveil it..or you mean that the first you hear it is an unveiling, regardless of how many times it's been played without you..
Does anyone have any audio of a Tampa (St Pete Times Forum) show with Dylan in the last few years?
honestly, if it's going to be anything like the last couple of years they did that, i'd just as soon they skip it. they were obviously not into playing together at that time, so why push it?
not so sure it's about pride as daffyduff suggests. i think they have some big personal differences that music canot overcome. not sure what the rift is between phil and bobby, but if anyone has a clue, i'd be curious.
Bob is very talented, and am glad that he is finally getting the the respect musically that he deserves!! As for the boys getting back together and doing a tour, I'm all for that!!
I love Ratdog and i do enjoy some Phil and Friends also but if i were asked for my opinion i would have to side with Ratdog for the singing alone. If Jerry isn't going to be singing the Hunter/Garcia catalog anymore the next best person to do it is Bobby just by default alone
i also think that Ratdog is just a bit more adventureous and i like the fact that they have their own music too that's great. Yet the best is the core four together again rockin' out and creating that ole' magic that is the good ol' grateful dead.............................................
see here how everything, lead up to this day
I think separate tours are the way to go, personally...
Grate tour Bobby :)
DaffyDuff wouldn't that be grate :)
Ya know, both of the boy's have been playing hot shows. How about getting together this summer and doing a nice run of shows. I know they got their groove going, but common guys, put your pride aside and let loose. What do ya say????????????????????