Marshall: Hey Bob, my name is Craig Marshall. I'm the lead guitarist for Cubensis, the Grateful Dead tribute band out of Los Angeles.
Marshall: And I'm also a big fan, after seeing my first Dead show in 1967 at the Shrine Exposition Hall. Now, Cubensis has been performing as a Dead tribute since 1986. It's been a real great lifestyle and a privilege to play Grateful Dead music. So the premise of this conversation is that I'm a tribute artist and I'm talking with Bob Weir today, who of course is the "real deal" and so, good afternoon to you, Bob!
Marshall: First, I want to thank you for all the years of wonderful music...
Weir: The pleasure's mine. Thanks!
So my first question is, "Why don't you get rid of those other two jokers that you have now and hire me as your lead guitarist?" (Laughing) I had to throw that in, sorry.
(Laughs) We'll bring it up before the committee.
Very good! What brings you to D.C. today?
I'm actually here to play on a satellite radio station and on a public radio station.
Oh, I see. As a solo act?
That sounds good. As a Californian, do you have any thoughts about President Reagan's passing?
You know, it's a merciful thing. A guy who is that wasted by Alzheimer's, people should be rejoicing that he finally got a break.
What about his significance in history? Any thoughts?
Well, I can't speak too kindly of him with regards to his legacy. I'd rather not say.
Understood. Okay, you guys are about to start a summer tour, what do you guys have in store for us this time around?
You know, it's impossible for us to tell what we're gonna be playing. We rehearsed I think some 160-plus songs, some of them even twice! So, I just can't tell you right now.
You know, it will be fun!
I have no doubt! Any new original tunes?
Excellent. Who's writing those?
Mickey (Hart), myself, Warren (Haynes), and Phil (Lesh) is even involved in some of them, and Jeff (Chimenti). We've been writing by committee.
And that seems to be working?
That's kind of a departure from the old days where Hunter and Garcia might write something, or you and Barlow.
You know, I kind of "had it" with holing up and writing stuff, and then bringing it to the band because really, it almost always suffers in the translation. "Look what they've done to my song!" So instead of doing that, I like to work on the tune with the guys who are going to be playing it. And that seems to work pretty well.
Just get it over with, huh?
Well, you know what you're going to get.
Exactly. So for the record, who is in the current line-up of the Dead?
Okay, let's start from the left. Jimmy Herring on guitar. Warren Haynes on guitar and vocals and me on guitar and vocals. Phil on bass and vocals and Jeff Chimenti on keyboards and vocals. And in the back we have Billy Kreutzmann on drums and Mickey Hart on drums and some vocals.
The Dead by Tony Stack
So, Warren Haynes is being billed as a special guest, and you just said he'll also be on stage with the Dead, but he'll be opening as well? Is that correct?
Well, we may be opening by committee. He's doing a solo acoustic thing. I might do a little of that, too. And if I do that, you'll probably see other people creeping out, so...
It's got to have been great for you to have made music with so many world-class lead guitar players--from Garcia up till now. How is it, playing with Mark Karan? Can you describe the experience as compared to Jerry, or is there any comparison there?
Well, Mark's technically more proficient than Jerry was, for what it's worth.
I'd have to agree. His playing has grown by leaps and bounds since he joined Ratdog.
He's opening up like a flower. But Jerry was kind of special in his way.
Yeah. Totally unique. I understand that Mark Ford was on stage with you in Japan. Can you describe that?
Well, he's an old friend of ours, of mine. You know, we toured together when he was in the Black Crowes. I don't know who he's playing with, do you know who he's playing with now?
I do, and his name escapes me... oh, it's Ben Harper.
Great. I really love his playing. He's a great guy as well.
Yeah. Both "Marks" have sat in with Cubensis from time to time and we've been real privileged in that. They're inspiring. Garcia, of course, is irreplaceable, but when you had to fill Jerry's shoes, was there a conscious effort to pick someone completely unlike Jerry, which is how I would describe Jimmy Herring's playing?
At first, actually, when we went out as the Other Ones, we had Steve Kimock. And at that time, Steve's playing was quite reminiscent of Jerry's. I like Steve, he's a wonderful guy and I love playing with him, but it didn't seem to me to be the right choice but we did it anyway. And then we started looking for people who were unlike Jerry.
Warren Haynes by Tony Stack
Okay, so this was deliberate and...
You know, we were just looking for good players.
Sure. I always thought that the fellow from Dire Straits (Mark Knopfler), I'd like to have heard him play with you folks.
Yeah, I'm having a senior moment here. I can't remember his name but he's a great player as well.
Indeed. So, talking about Warren Haynes, we've been lucky enough to have him sit in with us as well. Until I met him, I thought he was a rough "biker" kind of guy, but actually he's very mellow, isn't he?
Yeah. A real sweet guy.
Does Warren ever remind you of Jerry as far as his temperament, or his sense of humor, or anything?
Uh, Warren's Warren for me. And that's just fine!
Joan Osborne and Bob Weir
Say, how do you feel about cover bands? Any opinions there? Or any advice you can give a fledgling band, or a tribute band?
Well, yeah. Just love what you do. And of course you do. So there's no assignment there, there's no homework there. Aside from that, I don't know what to say... Have fun!
Tell me, how was touring with Joan Osborne?
I loved working with her and hope to work with her again at some point.
Was there a certain reason she's not on board this time around?
I get to pass on that question because I wasn't around when that decision was made.