Just one month after the final Grateful Dead “Fare Thee Well” performance, a new announcement surfaced today confirming that three of the “Core Four” surviving members – namely, Bob Weir, Bill Kreutzmann, and Mickey Hart – would be performing on Halloween night at Madison Square Garden, alongside John Mayer, Oteil Burbridge, and Jeff Chimenti. Billed as “Dead & Company”, the announcement certainly turned a lot of heads (pun intended) who had heard the rumors of additional dates with Mayer.
In a Billboard exclusive, Weir said “It was a matter of who wanted to get back out on the road and keep doing it,” and John Mayer’s enthusiasm “was the cherry on the sundae that made this project look like a good idea.”
Mayer commented on his newfound passion for the Grateful Dead, after hearing a version of “Althea” from 1980 on a Pandora station back in 2011. “I just loved that riff… There’s always that moment when you hear something that grabs you and you have a point a reference — that was mine. Now four years later, it’s what I call shaking the big Polaroid: really taking in and learning all that music.”
Kreutzmann seems excited to play with someone so steeped in the blues, even going so far as to compare Mayer to Pig Pen. “When we first started playing years ago, it was with Pig Pen, and he was nothing but a blues guy. We took that and made it into the Grateful Dead and we’re doing that with John. And John gets to open up to many styles and doesn’t have to be locked into any one genre. And I think that’s why John is excited to play with us because we offer up a whole new cookie. He’s told me that he’s been at home working on our material like crazy. He’ll be one of us.”
And Mickey Hart showed his excitement as well, saying, “All the pieces just fell together magically. There was a kind of serendipity there — when you’re not actually looking for anything and then all of a sudden, it all appears.”
The group also explained their choice of Oteil Burbridge on bass. Burbridge has played with the Aquarium Rescue Unit and The Allman Brothers Band, and recently covered “Dark Star” with ARU on Jerry Garcia’s birthday. [Watch here] While Phish’s Mike Gordon was the band’s first choice, Gordo wound up declining the offer. Weir explained, saying “Mike has way more stuff on his plate than he can manage now. Oteil was a natural go-to and he’s more than up to the task.”
Weir also offered up this quote about the prospect of more dates: “It’s kind of late in the year to put together a tour, but we’re gonna try.” Fingers crossed!