Bob Weir had a strange vision of what the future holds for Dead & Company...

By Brian Ives

(RADIO.COM) – Grateful Dead guitarist/singer Bob Weir and his new musical collaborator John Mayer recently held a teleconference to discuss their upcoming tour as Dead & Company. During the event, they talked about how the ad hoc Grateful Dead reunion group got together, and how long they plan to go on for.

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Weir said that the seeds of Dead & Company were sown when John Mayer was guest hosting CBS’s Late Late Show in the interim between the end of Craig Ferguson’s tenure as host, and before James Corden took over. Mayer invited Weir to perform with him on the show.

“We were going to do, like, two songs,” Weir said. “And we did a sound check that lasted about an hour and a half and touched on those two songs briefly and then just went and kept going. And [CBS] finally had to unplug us, they had a show to produce. And so, the idea came up to put together a band.”

Mayer said that he had to put in a lot of work before starting to work with the rest of the band, which includes Grateful Dead drummer/percussionists Micky Hart and Billy Kreutzmann, along with bassist Oteil Burbridge (formerly of the Allman Brothers Band) and keyboardist Jeff Chimenti. “I took most of 2015 off from touring and even recording,” Mayer said. He knew he could learn the huge amount of songs necessary to perform with the former members of the Grateful Dead. “I knew that it could be done, but not without a really, really large amount of time to do it, in terms of learning all the songs, and also figuring out sort of that really subtle combination of what is absolutely inherent and native to the music, and what can be changed, so that whatever I’m doing seems really authentic to me.” He said that by the time he knew that the tour would likely happen, he had about 100 days to prepare.

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“There were songs I knew; there were songs I didn’t know. And so I kind of built this assembly line in my head of learning the songs that I knew, and really listening hardcore to the songs that I didn’t. For the most part, I was just going on the same ride that every other Deadhead goes on, where they discovered the music, one song at a time. So it’s what I call sort of ‘shaking the big Polaroid’ with this music. It was a lot of learning of songs, and then it was a lot of really trying to get the combination right, like I said.”

During the media event, Mayer admitted that he didn’t grow up a Deadhead, but he was certainly aware of the iconic group. And he wasn’t sure how fans would react to his presence in the new lineup: “Certainly, I wasn’t sure how it was going to be received at all, but I knew that in the nucleus of it, that there was some authenticity. There was a lot of authenticity. Musically, it’s exactly what I was hoping it would be; it’s exactly what I thought it would be. And in terms of the way it was received, it was absolutely what I was hoping it would be. So it couldn’t have been better for me.”


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