Three weeks into its 2009 tour, members of The Dead says they're pleased with the proceedings and only expect things to get better.
"It's a work in progress," guitarist Bob Weir tells Billboard.com. "It takes a lot of work to get it right, and the only place you can get that kind of work is on stage. You can't rehearse it. So I imagine the band will be real tight, real solid right around the time the tour wraps up. But we're having fun out here."
Bassist Phil Lesh seconds that. "There's a spirit there you can't get anywhere else," he explains. "Most of us have been playing with our own bands and doing other projects for several years now, and we all learn new things and we get new ideas and new approaches from the other people that we play with. It just seemed like it was time to get together and see what we could make of all that with a group mind again, together."
The Dead's current road trip is slated to run through May 16 in Quincy, Mass., with a July 4 performance at the Rothbury Festival in Michigan. Fans are clamoring for more shows, but while the band members have discussed the possibility of doing some recording, they're hesitant to commit to more touring.
"We kind of feel like we should take it one step at a time," Lesh says. "We haven't talked about (more dates). Maybe it'll be some time later in the year. Maybe next year. I don't know." Weir, meanwhile, notes that, "we've got a fairly ambitious schedule now. My expectation is by the time we get the tour done, assuming it goes well -- and it's starting to pretty much look that way -- my guess is that we're probably going to want to get back to it before it gets away from us again."
The Dead is certainly providing portals for those who haven't been able to get to the shows. The group is making every concert available for downloading at deadnet.com, where fans can also create special programs that incorporate their own and official Dead photos from the concert. SIRIUS XM's Grateful Dead Channel is broadcasting select shows live, and a crew that includes percussionist Bill Kreutzmann's son Justin is also filming and photographing the tour, but Lesh says that's "mostly for online, blog kind of purposes. I don't think we're planning a documentary feature kind of thing that covers the whole tour. I have not heard anything about that if we are."