“During these turbulent times it’s reassuring to have the music of the Grateful Dead, which has been part of the foundation of American music over the past half-century,” Shapiro tells Billboard. "The Dead’s music and the improvisation they inspire are timeless, but one of the reasons for that is people keep reinventing the songs. To have the guys that originally created the music keep reinventing it themselves uplifts people. I think Bobby and Phil performing together for the first time as a duo will elevate people's spirits. And we can probably use some of that right now.”
Lesh says performing as a duo and ditching the backing band leaves him and Weir exposed, but says the upside is a singular focus on musically weaving around and through Weir’s improvisational style.
“I can hear him so clearly and is so easy to respond and work through him, it’s really delightful,” Lesh tells Billboard. “When it's just the two of us, it takes us to a different level because there's nobody else that we have to have to compensate for or work with."
The Bobby and Phil duo tour kicks off March 2 and 3 at Radio City Music Hall in New York, then heads to Boston’s Wang Theater (March 7-8) and then Chicago Theatre (March 10-11). To buy tickets, fans can sign up for the Ticketmaster Verified Fan Presale starting today at 7 a.m. ET at bobbyandphilduotour.tmverifiedfan.com. Tickets will be available to the public on Dec. 15 at 10 a.m. local time at Ticketmaster.
This new project came about as Weir and Lesh celebrated the 40-year anniversary of the Grateful Dead’s 1977 studio album Terrapin Station. Earlier this year, the two performed at Lesh’s own Terrapin Crossroads music venue and restaurant in San Rafael, California, as well as Lockn’ Festival and Sound Summit on Mount Tamalpais, each time with a backing band filling in the set.
“I think it will be more stimulating than the recent performances we’ve done together.” Less says. "It's just easier to hear and easier to respond to Bob when it's just us two. It heightens the focus on the totality of the music. It becomes an unconscious mental state — just Bobby and I up there reacting to each other and exploring our musical boundaries."