Bill Kreutzmann: Pushing Forward
JamBase: What’s it like playing a festival with Dark Star Orchestra, a band that’s put so much effort into recreating the music of the Grateful Dead?
Kreutzmann: Well, do you want my honest opinion or a good opinion?
JamBase: Feel free to give both but I’d dig the honest opinion.
JamBase: Would you feel like you’d be progressing if you were just playing Dead tunes?
Kreutzmann: I don’t think that way. I know I wouldn’t be progressing. I like to be creative and make as much new stuff as possible. I’ve been playing with a lot of different people. At the Wanee Festival, I had Sam Bush sit in for a while and Col. Bruce Hampton. It was really fun.
JamBase: So for a guy who’s played every venue between The Fillmore and the Giza Pyramids, what do you think of All Good as a concert venue?
Kreutzmann: It’s a nice venue. I like the way it’s laid out. I haven’t really walked around. I got driven here, and there was nobody in my dressing room to talk to so I came here [to the press tent] to talk to you guys.
JamBase: Do you feel that this crowd will be receptive to newer music or are folks going to expect a note-by-note run-through of old Dead tunes?
Kreutzmann: They may expect it but my ace in the hole is that [Grateful Dead songwriter] Robert Hunter has written a bunch of songs for me and nobody has heard them yet. So, I’ll be playing at least three new Hunter songs that should make things exciting.
JamBase: Were you bummed that you and Bobby missed each other?
Kreutzmann: Nah. We just played a whole tour together, and we saw each other last weekend at Rothbury [read the review here]. That was a great festival – great layout, lots of trees and the stages were spread apart so the music didn’t bleed into other sets. I hate that.
JamBase: So with Rothbury in the past and no dates scheduled for The Dead, what are the conversations like regarding the future of The Dead?
Kreutzmann: That’s a good question but we haven’t been having any conversations about the future. There are no plans.
JamBase: Do you think you’ll be hearing from Bobby or Mickey Hart in the near future?
What made everyone want to get back together in the first place?
Kreutzmann: The Obama gig at Penn State. That was actually my idea and Bobby said he’d love to do anything to support him, and I said, “Shoot, we’re getting together and getting our gear and our best rigs out so why don’t we just do a tour?” And that’s what we did.
JamBase: So any plans for a 2012 Obama re-election gig?
Kreutzmann: I’d love it. I don’t know if it will be a Dead show, but I hope he gets re-elected. I think there are some changes happening, especially with Al Franken in the Senate. We did some work together when he was on Saturday Night Live. He was a writer and I played a few times.
HeadCount Representative: Have you heard of HeadCount? Bobby is on our board of directors and we registered over 100,000 new voters for the 2008 election.
JamBase: You were saying that after 40 years of touring with the same guys you want to play with different people. Do you think if Jerry didn’t pass away when he did that the Grateful Dead would still be on the road to the extent that they were in 1995?
I actually don’t. I believe that Jerry would have had enough of the Grateful Dead and would want to start his own band. I know the fans will hate to hear that but that’s just how I feel. He felt so different about playing even with his first band way back when, and he felt so different playing with his own band [The Jerry Garcia Band] than with the Grateful Dead. I just think he would have gotten sick of it. But that doesn’t mean I’m right. How can you be right about something like that? I know he’d be playing music though. I guarantee you that much is a fact.
So, how about the ladies at the shows? How do the girls compare to the chicks that used to follow the Dead back in the ’60s?
Now that’s a real Hugh Hefner kind of question [laughs]. The ladies at the shows are as wonderful as they ever were. My secret was that I’d pick the best lookin’ lady out there and I’d play just to her. The other day at the Oregon Country Fair, me and Papa [Mali] did a small set just me and him, and we had a big audience show up for this small acoustic set. And when I looked to the side, I saw four topless chicks dancing there and I asked myself, “Where am I?”
Bill Kreutzmann has two shows scheduled with BK3 tonight and tomorrow in Denver. Details available here.
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