Bob Weir is a restless soul.
Already fully engaged with Furthur -- his latest and perhaps most true-to-form post-Grateful Dead venture -- his solo band Ratdog, assorted musical projects at his TRI Studios, activity in various political and environmental organizations, plus the occasional mountain bike foray, Weir now prepares to head out on a short solo tour.
If there were ever a musician who deserved a little rest and relaxation, it might be the tireless Weir. Instead, the songwriter is really only at rest when he's busy playing his guitar, which, in the solo acoustic context, offers yet another level of musical fulfillment.
"I get to hear the song all by itself, just me and the guitar," he explains by phone from his Marin County, California, home. "Basically, in most cases, it's the way I wrote it. Oftentimes that gives me insight to the song, places to take it -- that kind of thing."
Playing songs stripped down and naked also offers Weir a chance to really hear his own voice.
"Singing is a big thing. In the bands I play with, particularly Furthur, my dynamic range is kind of limited because that band is real loud. So there are a lot of things you can't do with your voice and a microphone in that situation," he says. "This gives me a lot more room to try things when I'm playing solo. I have little discoveries and whatnot that I can bring back to my other endeavors."
Weir knows a thing about "little discoveries." He was a founding member of the Grateful Dead, and such exploration and willingness to push musical boundaries through improvisation set the band apart. Weir took some of his musical cues from such cutting-edge jazz artists of the time as saxophonist John Coltrane and pianists McCoy Tyner and Bill Evans.-- Glenn BurnSilver