Bob Weir Debuts New Solo Material at Intimate New York City Show
Bob Weir took to the stage following the announcement of his new solo record Blue Mountain earlier tonight at The McKittrick Hotel in New York City.
Weir, flanked by songwriting partner and producer Josh Kaufman as well as CBS Senior Correspondent Anthony Mason, led the audience through six new songs from his album, with three being played over the PA system in the venue and the other three performed live by Weir and Kaufman.
Between songs, Mason led the duo through a series of questions about the record, with Kaufman and Weir trading stories about their three-year journey to craft this record.
Kaufman, who also spends his time in groups like Yellowbirds and has recorded with the likes of Craig Finn and Joe Russo, recounted many stories throughout the night including his initial conversations with Weir and Josh Ritter about the project, describing walking down the street on a call with both of them as Weir sang the title track to the album into his ear.
That led into the first song of the evening, “Only a River,” the studio version of which was played for the venue. Dubbed Josh Ritter’s “brainchild” by Weir, the song featured Weir on acoustic guitar predominately with minor backing vocals and electric accompaniment.
Weir then grabbed his guitar and played the title track “Blue Mountain” solo without Kaufman. The conversation following the performance stemmed around the early demos, which occurred in numerous places including in Weir’s local Marin County, CA with the likes of Steve Kimock and Robin Sylvester (Kaufman joked he didn’t know who Kimock was initially). The ensemble also assembled at Dreamland Studios with members of The National as they began to piece together the record.
“Gonesville” was the next track played, another Ritter collaboration. The song featured the most instrumentation of the night as Weir described it as “country western meets Japanese sci-fi monsters.” “Gonesville” marked the most distinctive country sound of the night from Weir as more guitars and percussion backed him on the track.
Mason prompted Weir on the content of the record, noting the next song, “Lay My Lily Down,” contained quite a bit of sadness. “Because I’ve been there,” Weir responded when asked how he transported himself to that mood. The emotional reading of the next song came from, according to Weir, listening to a lot of Appalachian music. Kaufman accompanied Weir on the song and delivered a tasteful, soaring electric guitar solo.
“You haven’t heard this stuff since the 50s, trust me,” Weir joked as he introduced one of the final songs of the night, “What the Ghost Towns Know.” Although he admitted the song title was up in the air (“All of it is,” he added), the tune, played over the PA, once again had a full band feel to it.
The final song of the night came with a song Weir said he wrote for the ailing John Perry Barlow, “Ki Ki Bossie,” a true campfire song that tells the tale of a whiskey and cocaine-filled night. “I wrote it the way I thought he would’ve,” Weir said following the performance when an audience member asked him about the song.
Weir closed the night by fielding a few questions from the crowd, with the notable bits addressing the touring format. Kaufman and Weir both noted that the whole band has yet to get together but that there are roughly 18 cowboy songs completed and they will mix those in with some other Dead material.
Weir closed the night by recounting some tales of cutting his teeth on Americana and folk music with Jerry Garcia in the early days, joking that Garcia called the folk movement in the U.S. the “folk scare.”
Blue Mountain is out on September 30. For more information, click here.