Since Jerry Garcia died in 1995, the vast community of Grateful Dead fans has been extremely vocal with its preference for just how the surviving band members should proceed. Often, these opinions were the product of a deep hurt – many Deadheads were seemingly unable to come to terms with Garcia’s death, and they were prone to lashing out at anyone and everyone to deal with their pain.
Somewhere in this often-public trading of opinions, founding GD member Bob Weir became the whipping boy for Deadheads who seemed deeply irked that Weir was making music in grand GD tradition while Garcia was gone. No matter that Weir was doing excellent work with, at first, Ratdog and, later, the Other Ones, the Dead and the ongoing Furthur project. Many of the Garcia devout were never going to be satisfied.
Of all of the post-Garcia Grateful Dead-related bands I’ve had the pleasure of seeing, Ratdog brought me closest to the vibe of the Garcia-era GD shows I caught. The consistently high level of improvisation; the strength of commitment in Weir’s delivery; the depth and diversity of the set lists; and the fearlessness displayed by the musicians, who seemed eager to follow wherever the music led them – all of these recalled with visceral power the height of Garcia-led Dead.
With the Weir/Lesh-led Furthur on hiatus for 2014, Weir has reformed Ratdog with founding members Rob Wasserman (upright bass) and Jay Lane (drums), plus newer recruits Jeff Chimenti (keys) and Robin Sylvester (electric bass). Longtime GD associate Steve Kimmock rounds out the lineup with his often-transcendent guitar work.
There are only 23 dates on the Ratdog spring reunion tour. It speaks to Weir’s love for performing in our area that one of them is at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday in Shea’s Performing Arts Center (646 Main St.). Tickets are $32 to $52 (box office, Ticketmaster.com and www.gdtstoo.com). Check www.ratdog.org/tour for set lists from the jaunt.
Security in mind
When queried regarding my most indelible concert memories, I’m invariably reminded of a beautiful evening in 1983, watching Peter Gabriel and his band perform at the Saratoga Performing Arts Center as part of their “Security” tour. I was 15, and though a staunch Gabriel fan, was not prepared for what I was to witness.
The music – stark, riveting, minimalistic, tribal and percussion-heavy – was married to the production and performance-art aspects of the presentation in such a manner as to pretty much blow my mind. I’ve seen thousands of concerts since, but this one occupies its own private room in my dusty memory mansion.
The drummer in Gabriel’s band was Jerry Marotta, and his genre-busting marriage of world beat and rock with a vaguely post-punk underpinning anchored Gabriel’s material in a visceral manner. Gabriel went on to far greater commercial success, but the stark and intimate drama of the “Security” material as presented live is something he rarely revisited. Happily, Marotta recently assembled an ensemble called the Security Project – with his old Gabriel band cohort Larry Fast on synthesizers and former King Crimson Chapman Stick and Warr Guitar virtuoso Trey Gunn, among others – to perform variations on the music that informed that original 1983 tour.
The Security Project performs at 8 p.m. Monday in the Tralf Music Hall (622 Main St.). Tickets are $21 advance or $25 night of the show (box office, Ticketmaster).
There are many fine ensembles in town paying tribute to the catalog of particular artists. It seems more than fitting that we now have a repertory ensemble dedicated to the music of jazz genius Miles Davis. This new group also boasts a lineup including several of the most esteemed jazz musicians in town.
Star People: The Miles Davis Project – Bobby Millitello on alto sax, George Caldwell on piano, John Bacon Jr. on drums, Tim Clarke on trumpet and Doug Stone on tenor sax – will make its debut at 8 p.m. Thursday in Pausa Art House (19 Wadsworth St.). For this show, the group will perform the classic Miles platters “Kind of Blue” and “Milestones” in their entirety.
Star People: The Miles Davis Project is planned as an ongoing consideration, with the collective pulling pages from the Miles Davis book and performing them “as they were originally presented in album form.” Admission will be $10 at the door, $7 for students with ID.