Illinois Sen. Barack Obama's presidential run might pay dividends for Deadheads this year.

Illinois Sen. Barack Obama's presidential run might pay dividends for Deadheads this year.

Three of the Grateful Dead's surviving members -- Bob Weir, Phil Lesh and Mickey Hart -- reunited for a February fundraiser for Obama in San Francisco, and Hart tells Billboard.com it could happen again.

"We're not making plans, but I think we stand at the ready to be of service," Hart says. "We're all deeply into this, into Barack Obama and the thought of taking this country back in some shape or form, what's left of it -- it's probably one thing we can all agree on! So, you bet, I would spend a night with my brothers for that any time, any place."

Hart says that he and the other Dead alumni have exchanged "a few friendly e-mails" about doing something more for the campaign, but no firm details have been set. "That's all there really needs to be until the moment really comes," he notes.

Hart, meanwhile, is in the midst of a busy summer debuting his new Mickey Hart Band, which includes longtime associate Steve Kimock on guitar, former Meters bassist George Porter, Jr., drummer Walfredo Reyes, Jr., talking drum virtuoso Sikiru, singer Jen Durkin and String Cheese Incident keyboardist Kyle Hollingsworth.

"It's a sizzling band," Hart gushes, "very powerful. It's not like a regular rock'n'roll band; it does rock, but it's very fierce in its rhythmic dexterity."

The group has been on the road since early June and plays the inaugural Rothbury Festival on Thursday, as well as the Milwaukee Summerfest on Sunday. Its repertoire includes several new songs written by Hart and Kimock with lyricist Robert Hunter, which Hart says he's been accumulating in recent years.

"I would say there's about 16 of them," he says. "I've been saving them up over the years. We've been writing -- I just didn't have the band to play 'em. This band was actually constructed specifically to play these songs."

Hart -- who recently released the "Rhythm Devils Concert Experience" DVD and "The Mickey Hart Collection," a boxed set of his solo work -- hopes to get his new band in the studio some time this year to record the new material.

Questions? Comments? Let us know: @billboard

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