Dead & Company, live

Grateful Dead spinoff ends up back where it all began

The story of Dead & Company -- which performs Saturday, July 30, at the Shoreline Amphitheatre in Mountain View -- is in some ways a local one.

Dead & Company is comprised of two co-founders of a little band you may have heard of called The Grateful Dead (guitarist/vocalist Bob Weir and drummer Bill Kreutzmann); one longtime member (drummer Mickey Hart); superstar singer/songwriter/guitarist John Mayer; bass guitarist Oteil Burbridge; and keyboardist Jeff Chimenti.

The Grateful Dead got its start in Palo Alto back in 1965 and did two 50th-anniversary shows late last June at Levi's Stadium in Santa Clara (featuring Weir, Kreutzmann, Hart and Chimenti plus fellow co-founder/bassist/vocalist Phil Lesh, guitarist/vocalist Trey Anastasio and keyboardist/vocalist Bruce Hornsby).

"It was interesting for us last summer, doing the Fare Thee Well shows in Santa Clara. That's basically our old stomping grounds ... where we played our first gigs as the Warlocks," said Weir, in a teleconference with journalists from around the country. "We were playing in a stadium there ... when we were first getting together, it was all orange groves. And there was a new complexion to the culture, but it was still very much like playing at home, playing in our living room."

After a trio of shows over the July 4 weekend in 2015 at Soldier Field in Chicago (site of The Grateful Dead's last-ever show in 1995 with late co-founder/vocalist/guitarist Jerry Garcia), Weir, Kreutzmann and Hart decided that they'd continue to tour as Dead & Company with Mayer in the Garcia/Anastasio role, Burbridge in place of Lesh and Chimenti back aboard.

"A year ago last winter, I did a TV show ("The Late Late Show") with John," Weir recalled. "We were going to do two songs, and we did a soundcheck that lasted about an hour and a half and touched on those two songs briefly and then just went and kept going. And they finally had to unplug us. The idea came up to put together a band," he continued. "Phil is getting older and has less than limited interest in hitting the road anymore, so we knew we were looking in a different direction there," he said.

"Bob carries so much of that DNA of the music that he sort of is one of those true bandleaders in the sense where it always feels like him, no matter who else is playing," said Mayer. "And then when we got in the room together with Billy and Mickey, for me, the idea just took hold of me when I heard it."

"Certainly, I wasn't sure how it was going to be received at all," he went on to admit. "But I knew that in the nucleus of it, that there was really ... some validity, I think, to putting a band together and making music for people to want to listen to live."

Dead & Company started performing late last October and concluded its 2015 U.S. tour with a pair of concerts in both northern and southern California, including one extending The Grateful Dead's tradition of a blowout New Year's Eve show. Prior to its 2016 summer domestic tour, the sextet performed a surprise free concert at the Fillmore, The Grateful Dead's one-time home court in San Francisco. Fans as well as Mayer, Burbridge and Chimenti looked thrilled to be there, while Weir, Kreutzmann and Hart seemed right back at home.

Singles or pairs of tickets were given away on-line at a designated time, and the concept behind the May 23 concert was for fans to "pay it forward" by doing good deeds for others. A few hundred fans milled around a park a block from the famed ballroom beforehand, either in hopes of being the recipient of an old-fashioned "miracle" ticket or just out of communal fellowship.

This summer's tour, which started on June 10, concludes Saturday, July 30, at the Shoreline Amphitheatre in Mountain View. If the Fillmore was The Grateful Dead's resident venue early in its career, the Shoreline later became renowned for hosting the band and its fans.

Bailey Park Plaza Shopping Center on Shoreline was transformed into a de facto Deadhead Village, annoying regular Safeway customers but probably delighting the owners of the streetside Jack in the Box.

Mayer remembered being on tour in the summer, hitting California and it being "blazing hot" in Irvine. "And then you get to Shoreline, and it's 60 degrees out. And I just always remember that and loved it," he said. "And we always played great shows there.

"There's a coziness to that place," he added. "There really is." (Mayer's July 16, 2004 concert at the Shoreline was released commercially as part of his "As/Is" live series.)

"I think we were hoping that we could wrap it up at Shoreline, and as it turns out, the availabilities were there, and so it seemed like the natural thing to do," Weir confirmed.

"I don't remember ever being at Shoreline and being in a bad mood or wishing that I could get more sleep," Mayer reminisced. "You sort of leave the rigors of the road behind when you get to Shoreline."

This summer's Dead & Company tour is bookended by homecoming shows. The Fillmore show was a prelude, while Saturday night at Shoreline is the conclusion.

"I expect that there will be a little tinge of bittersweet there, because it will be the end of the tour," Weir reflected. "But at the same time, that will be counterbalanced by the fact that everybody's going to be anxious to maximize the event, to take advantage of this last little hoedown. And so I think it will be pretty hoppin'."

What: Dead & Company

Where: 1 Amphitheatre Parkway, Mountain View

When: Saturday, July 30, 7:30 p.m.

Cost: $40-$150

Info: Go to Livenation or call 650-967-4040.

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Like this comment
Posted by sequoiadean
a resident of Midtown
on Jul 29, 2016 at 10:27 am

sequoiadean is a registered user.

Really looking forward to the show tomorrow night! I can't remember how many times I saw the Grateful Dead at shoreline, but it does feel like home seeing any version of the Dead there. I hope if they mention the city they're in they say "Mountain View" and not "San Francisco", which so many bands seem to do :)

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