Bob Weir and Ratdog hit the lanes of Brooklyn Bowl last night for an intimate club gig in celebration of participatory democracy organization HeadCount’s 10th Anniversary Benefit. The two sets were packed with a host of Grateful Dead classics and special guests, including appearances by John Popper, the Disco Biscuits’ Marc Brownstein, Soulive’s Eric Krasno and Umphrey’s McGee guitarist Brendan Bayliss.
The evening got underway just before 9 p.m., when the band launched into traditional Dead opener “Hell in a Bucket.” From there, they lead the hundreds through a small, bluesy first set featuring classic Weir renditions of Bob Dylan’s “Queen Jane Approximately,” Willie Dixon’s “Little Red Rooster,” (which featured Popper on harmonica) and his own Dead number “Throwing Stones.” Only one small hiccup occurred during the soulful set; Weir seemed to have a bit of trouble with his guitar during the beginning of the Jerry Garcia tune “Ramble on Rose,” and fumbled a bit with the opening lyrics.
The second set was much more exploratory and funky. The band was joined by Brownstein on bass, who noodled around with the group for a few minutes before segueing into an oozy, upbeat, 20-minute “Shakedown Street” which eventually gave way to the organ-tinged “Bertha.” Weir then traded the funk for some dueling guitar action – Umphrey’s McGee guitarist Brendan Bayliss replaced Brownstein, going head-to-head with Weir and longtime Ratdog guitarist Steve Kimock during “Help on the Way.” The three guitarists continued at it during the instrumental jam “Slipnot!,” eventually slowing things down with “Sugaree.” Other highlights included a swinging version of “Mexicali Blues” and gorgeous “Eyes of the World,” both featuring a horn section and Soulive guitarist Eric Krasno. The encore had Wilco’s Nels Cline joining in on “Franklin’s Tower” and “Turn on Your Lovelight,” capping an evening filled with master improvisers on a small stage.
The night also served as a kickoff to the annual Mountain Jam taking place this weekend in Hunter Mountain, New York. Also celebrating its 10th Anniversary, the jam-oriented festival features sets from Ratdog, the Allman Brothers, Govt Mule, the Avett Brothers, Umphrey’s McGee, Jeff Tweedy of Wilco, Damien Marley and more.
Hell in a Bucket
Queen Jane Approximately
Money for Gasoline
Little Red Rooster (With John Popper)
Ramble on Rose
Mission in the Rain
Jam (With Marc Brownstein on bass)
Shakedown Street (With Marc Brownstein on bass)
Bertha (With Marc Brownstein on bass)
Jam (With Brendan Bayliss on guitar)
Help on the Way
Mexicali Blues (With Eric Krasno and the Lettuce Horns)
Eyes of the World (With Eric Krasno and the Lettuce Horns)
Dear Prudence (With Eric Krasno and the Lettuce Horns)
Not Fade Away (With Eric Krasno and the Lettuce Horns)
Franklin’s Tower (With Nels Cline)
Turn On Your Lovelight (With Nels Cline)