As you might already know, I am a long-time fan of Bob Weir. But I first caught Ratdog just two years ago at the Orpheum Theatre on 29 Mar 2005. I was very impressed - actually transformed - by this specific show. (A story for some other time perhaps.) But I loved the way that Weir was “playing with” the song canon of the Dead. The entire Ratdog lineup was just extremely enjoyable - tight, jazzy and trippy. I liked it . . . alot.
So last year I saw two Ratdog shows - both fantastic. At Summerfest, the boys played a really great long set opening for String Cheese Incident at the Marcus Theater (the "cheesedog tour"). The band was on, the sound was good, and the crowd was way into it. I actually felt a little sorry for SCI to have to follow this set – because Ratdog was “en fuego.” This show also offered the treat of watching Bobby sit in with Keller Williams to play “Cassidy” and later playing Dylan’s “Quinn the Eskimo” with SCI.
Bob Weir and Ratdog will again be at Summerfest on July 5th and headlining at 10KLF on July 21st. So do catch them if you can.
Deadheads (and boneheads!) know that Weir has always admired Bob Dylan’s work, and Dylan songs show up regularly in his setlists. If you want to get a sense of Bob Weir and Ratdog, there are a few tracks on iTunes.including their cover of “Masters of War.” (How can that song still be so powerful?!)
By the way – I do recommend Weir Here/The Best of Bob Weir. It’s a real good collection of Weir’s work with the Dead and his other side projects. (I got mine in the used CDs section at Madcity Music Exchange. . . But I find lots of treasure there.)
Ratdog sells high quality soundboard recordings of each of its shows. The three-CD sets can be obtained in person, by mail or download. For existing fans, I recommend these shows from ratdoglive.com:
2005 Mar 29 at the Orpeum Theatre, Madison
Opens with a great Tomorrow Never Knows, and Dark Star runs throughout; but it was the final jam that was just amazing : Come Together > Dark Star > Lady with a Fan > Terrapin > Astronomy Domine > At a Siding > Terrapin Flyer > Dark Star (Instrumental) > Two Djinn
2006 Jul 06 at Summerfest
Here’s how it starts – Terrapin>Easy to Slip>Supplication>Birdsong>Book of Rules. After 45 minutes, the first “selection” came to an end. It was very good, indeed.
2006 Oct 21 at the Rave, Milwaukee
Bob put the whole show within a “Help on the Way > Slipnot> Franklins Tower” suite – including a set break. It was cool.