During Friday night’s pre-Shakedown Stream chat, Grateful Dead guitarist Bob Weir told the folks at home what he’s been up to during quarantine. According to Weir, his activities have stretched far beyond his area of isolation.

Before the stream of the Dead’s July 2nd, 1989 concert at Sullivan Stadium in Foxboro, MA, hosts David Lemieux and Gary Lambert called up Weir to be this week’s special guest. Past guest panelists have included Donna Jean GodchauxJesse JarnowBill Walton, and more.

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The conversation kicked off with the hosts asking Weir how he has been spending his government-mandated period of isolation. It turns out, Weir has been rather busy with several unexpected projects.

You wait all your life to get to the stuff you really want to get to then it all comes at once, and that’s where I am right now. I’m working on a book; I’m working on an orchestral project, a rather large one; I’m working on an opera; and I got a couple of bands in moth balls right now. What else am I not getting to here? I’ve been waddling away the hours getting into photoshop and doing I guess what you’d call graphic art. So, you know, I’m busy.

The conversation then turned to the much more serious issue of the live music industry. The pre-show chat itself was also a fundraiser for the MusiCares COVID-19 Relief Fund, which provides aid to music industry professionals who have lost work as a result of coronavirus. Weir admitted that, while he was forced to cancel Dead & Company‘s summer tour, that he will be okay. Others, he acknowledged, aren’t so lucky.

A lot of the crew guys are working stiffs basically. They exist from job to job, and the musicians can afford to carry some of the load of keeping those guys afloat. But, past a certain point, if you have a big crew, and a lot of bands have a big crew, it’s unsustainable for the artists to try to support those guys… MusiCares can help there a bunch.

After a bit more chitchat, the conversation moved to the ever-prevalent topic of live streams. In 2011, Weir established his Tamalpais Research Institute or TRI Studios in Marin county and began hosting streams when it was the only game in town. Lemieux asked Weir if there were any more streams on the docket for TRI Studios (which went dormant around the inception of Dead & Co.), and it turns out Bob is a lot more computer savvy than you may have expected for a 72 year-old man.

One of the things I’ve been up to, sort of feverishly…is trying to get it so people can play together live over the internet. You see these streams come out where people look like they’re playing live but they’re not. It’s done one part at a time then its all stitched together. What we’re trying to do is get it so you actually can play together over the internet. You have to overcome latencies that are introduced here and there and everywhere you go on the internet. You know you go to the server station and there’s latency induced there, and there’s latency induced by your home wifi so you have to go straight into the wall with a wire. And we’re almost there.

I was playing with Jay Lane and he’s out in the city and I’m in Stinson Beach, and I was playing with him the other night and we could do it. We had a bass player we were playing with down in San Diego and that’s a little too far away, and every time you go through a server station they introduce a little more latency and by the time the sound got back to us he was out of time with us. And he’s a good bass player, you can hear what he’s playing is good stuff, but its not in time with us. but we’re almost there…we may have this going in a couple days, at which point I think what we’re gonna want to do is Wolf Bros finish up the tour we had to cut short. And that’ll be fun.”

Lambert then jumped in with the quip that, “you could just pretend you’re back at the Acid Tests where it doesn’t matter if anything is in time.”

Weir, sounding less than amused, responded, “if you want to play something rhythmic and stuff like that, you can’t do that if there’s substantial latency.”

As far as opening up TRI Studios, Weir said,

That’s the next step. Once they relax the shelter in place stuff to the point where, here in California it’s still pretty tight, tomorrow we go into phase one of the relaxing of the standards, but still it’s gonna be a while before people can congregate. Then the next move on the board is, once we can get together in small groups adequately spaced and all that stuff, then we go into TRI and we start doing that kind of thing and maybe we bring in a guest or two and let other folks use the facility, because basically its a flying saucer just idling on the tarmac. We were a few years ahead of the curve and it was kind of useless at the time, but now it looks like its gonna become kind of useful.

Watch the entire pre-stream chat with David Lemieux, Gary Lambert, and Bob Weir. The topic of Weir’s quarantine activities comes up around four minutes in, and the live stream conversation starts around 11:30.

Shakedown Stream Pre-Show with David Lemieux, Gary Lambert, and Bob Weir

[Video: Grateful Dead]