Bob Weir Embraces the Grateful Dead’s Orchestral Side

He has several ongoing musical projects

Bob Weir
Singer Bob Weir, founding member of The Grateful Dead, performs onstage during Day 1 of the BeachLife Festival in Redondo Beach on May 03, 2019.
Scott Dudelson/Getty Images

For some iconic bands, you can point to definitive versions of some of their best-known songs. And then there’s the Grateful Dead, whose music evolved dramatically over the course of their tenure as a band — and continued to do so with its members’ post-Grateful Dead projects.

In a review of rhythm guitarist Bob Weir’s Live in Colorado, Vol. 2 (credited to Bobby Weir & Wolf Bros), Marty Sartini Garner wrote that Weir “stages some of the most beloved material in the Grateful Dead’s catalog with the passion and reverence of a couple spending their 50th anniversary looking back on their wedding day.” But it’s not the only way in which Weir has taken his old band’s music down unexpected pathways.

Writing at The Washington Post, Jonathan Williger talked with Weir about his work with Giancarlo Aquilanti, who arranged a host of the Grateful Dead’s music for a performance with the National Symphony Orchestra. Weir told the Post that his array of projects keeps him engaged with performing live.

“If we were to go out and try to do a rote set, the same thing night after night like some outfits do, I’d make it maybe two or three gigs and then go completely nuts,” he told Willinger. As for how he worked with an orchestra, Weir spoke of finding unexpected ways to gel with the musicians there — “the woodwinds and brass and strings can carry what I was hinting at,” he said.

Weir went on to argue that he’s taking the long view when it comes to his band’s music — the very long view. “With the Grateful Dead, if it’s done right, there’s a chance they may be a part of the conversation in two to three hundred years,” he said. Will his prediction pan out? We won’t know for a while to come.

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