It’s been a busy week for bushy-haired Bob Weir. He concluded a summer tour with Dead & Company on Saturday (July 30) night at Shoreline Amphitheatre in Mountain View, Calif.; celebrated Jerry Garcia’s 74th birthday on Monday (Aug. 1) with a solo concert at Sweetwater Music Hall in nearby Mill Valley; and last night (Aug. 4) he performed for an adoring New York crowd assembled at the Heath in the McKittrick Hotel to hear songs from his first true solo album since 1978’s Heaven Help the Fool.
Weir was joined on stage by singer-songwriter Josh Kaufman, who he teamed with several years ago to work on the album Blue Mountain, which comes out Sept. 30. They ran through five new songs, playing three and listening to the recorded versions of two others. When “Gonesville” ended, Weir joked, “It’s country meets rockabilly meets Japanese science-fiction.”
The two duetted on “Lay My Lily Down” and the oddly named “Ki-Yi Bossie,” and Weir opened with just an acoustic guitar on the folky title track. In the introduction to “Ki-Yi Bossie,” Weir commented, “I asked John Perry Barlow to help, but he’s in questionable health.”
Weir and Barlow, who are both 68 years old, teamed up to write some go the Dead’s most enduring songs, including “Cassidy,” “Hell in a Bucket” and “I Need a Miracle.” Barlow suffered a heart attack in 2015.
During a short Q&A after the brief performance, Weir said the album is not a “scholarly treatise — it’s more impressionistic.” He mentioned having soft spots for movie and TV Westerns and the music of Marty Robbins. A question about Jerry Garcia elicited the following response:
“We grew up in the Bay Area. Listening to the radio in the ’60s, there was every kind of station: jazz, blues, R&B, pop, country and rock & roll. They cross-pollinated a lot. We had them all on the buttons of the car radio. We grew up with all kinds of music… Jerry loved bluegrass, which goes back to Northern Ireland and Scotland. It was really the confluence of African and European traditions — blues, R&B and field hollers all grew out of that… When rock n’ roll happened we just wigged out over it. We couldn’t get enough of it. That’s what we grew up on, what we cut our teeth on.”
Weir will head out on a six-date mini solo tour to promote Blue Mountain in October. The dates are:
October 7 — Marin County Civic Center, San Rafael, CA
October 8 — Fox Theater, Oakland, CA
October 10 — The Wiltern, Los Angeles, CA
October 12 — Tower Theatre, Upper Darby, PA
October 14 & 15 — Kings Theatre, Brooklyn, NY
October 16 — The Capitol Theatre, Port Chester, NY
October 19 — Ryman Auditorium, Nashville, TN