Bob Weir, Jackie Greene, The Growlers and The Cosmonauts close out 2012 at the Golden State Theatre.
Thursday, December 13, 2012
The Weather Girls once sang “It’s Raining Men.” Next week it will rain music at the Golden State Theatre. The downpour kicks off Sunday with Bob Weir’s first solo acoustic tour in 46 years as a touring musician. Just last year, the Grateful Dead rhythm guitarist played two sellout shows with Furthur at the Monterey County Fairgrounds, which was his first time back to the venue since playing with the Dead at the Monterey Pop Fest in 1967.
“I remember being nervous [playing the Pop Festival] and we didn’t get to use our own backline gear, which sort of impacted us a little bit but [our performance] was also flat,” Weir says. “It wasn’t a bad night, it just wasn’t an exceptional night by any means.”
Furthur’s tight jams and well-crafted sets at the Fairgrounds in 2011, more than 40 years later, more than made up for the Dead’s mediocre display at the Pop Fest and – from the looks of the YouTube videos posted capturing Weir’s solo acoustic tour thus far – the bushy-bearded musician will unleash more greatness in Monterey.
So far his setlists – which, like the Dead’s, are different every night – have reportedly been mashups of Dead classics like “Let it Grow” and “Bird Song” along with tracks from Weir’s solo albums including “Easy to Slip” and “Festival.” Weir, who’s said in several recent interviews that he almost has enough new material for an album, has also been tossing in a new tune here and there.
Opener Jackie Greene – a Salinas native and longtime member of the Grateful Dead’s extended family – has also been making surprise appearances during Weir’s sets on the tour, sitting in with him on everything from “Friend of the Devil” to “U.S. Blues.”
At 65 years old, Weir still has more on his plate than most rockers half his age, and he wouldn’t have it any other way.
“This is the only life I’ve ever known,” he says.
The coming year already looks pretty loaded for the revered rocker: In addition to facilitating unique projects at his San Rafael-based, state-of-the-art video-streaming venue and recording facility TRI Studios, Weir plans on touring more with Phil Lesh and Furthur, doing more solo acoustic shows and working on a symphonic collaboration with an East Coast orchestra – last year, he collaborated with the Marin Symphony Orchestra.
Two days after Weir and Greene flood the town with good vibrations, The Growlers will descend upon the Golden State Theatre – The Cosmonauts open – with fuzz-toned, reverberated bliss.
This past year, the psych-surf garage rockers willingly let a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity slip through their hands: After scoring the Black Keys’ Dan Auerbach to produce their third full-length release Hung at Heart – that was initially due out Nov. 13 – and recording in Nashville, The Growlers fired the multi-Grammy Award winner and headed home to Costa Mesa where they started from scratch at the Distillery, an analog recording studio.
“We’re musicians and we get moody with our music, which is our baby,” says lead singer Brooks Nielsen. “It was taking a while to get [the album done] and I just really wanted it to be on tape and it wasn’t and it didn’t have any of the sound qualities of tape that I love.”
The ballsy move only reiterated The Growlers’ commitment to creating killer music – they’ve self-produced all their albums – without making any sacrifices, like recording on two-inch tape. Fortunately, Auerbach respected the decision.
“[Auerbach] understood,” Nielsen says. “He’s a very busy guy. We’re still cool with him. This happens all the time. Musicians try to collaborate and it doesn’t work. I wish it would have because Dan’s a great guy but I’ll never record in a digital studio for the rest of my life.”
Fans of the band that saw them play some of the biggest festivals of the year, including Coachella and Lollapalooza, have already gotten hefty doses of what to expect on Hung at Heart – a couple of tunes are available to stream online as well.
At times, Nielson’s nasally tenor on the wooly funk-driven “Use Me For Your Eggs” moves faster than Ricky Henderson, while the instrumentation consistently glides along at a stoner’s pace.
One of Nielsen’s favorite songs on the forthcoming album, the sentimental psilocybin-coated “One Million Lovers,” pulsates with the retro West Coast psychedelia of Country Joe & The Fish’s Electric Music for the Mind and Body.
The 15-track LP – they began with 70 songs – now has a firm release date of Jan. 22 and Nielsen has postponed Christmas until that day arrives.
“It’s going to feel really good when I finally have the vinyl in my hands,” he says. “We will never take this long to make an album again.”
But Nielsen has no regrets about any of the decisions they made in the past year or since The Growlers formed.
“When we started [in 2006] we didn’t know what the hell we were doing at all,” he says. “Now we’re a solid band.”
BOB WEIR and JACKIE GREENE perform at 8pm, Sunday, Dec. 16 at the Golden State Theatre, 417 Alvarado St., Monterey. $39; $59. 297-2472.
THE GROWLERS and THE COSMONAUTS perform at 8pm, Tuesday, Dec. 18. $10; $12.