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The Dead Summer Getaway Diaries

Published: 2003/06/17
by Dean Budnick

Rob Barraco on Bonnaroo, 6/15

This is the first of Dead Summer Getaway Daily Diaries. We will check in with members of the band and crew to get a sense of their perspective over the course of the tour. This evening the band is in Virginia Beach, Va at the Verizon Wireless Amphitheater (click here for the full tour itinerary).
And now, here’s Rob…
What was your musical highlight from last night?
The musical highlight was the whole Drums/Space and then the jam out of Space. We had been talking about breaking down into little units, duos and trios. Last night the Space that preceded the Drums was really cool and the Drums was great, the guys were really entrain. And then Phil and I went out and just started playing and that was cool. I’m hoping that throughout the tour that’s going to be a theme. Different units are going to play. The other highlight was the ‘Attics’ encore, I thought that was beautiful.
To what extent had you worked that out in a advance?
Not at all. It could be any two guys. Last night it just happened that Phil and I walked out and no one else was out there [Laughs]. We had discussed doing this so hopefully it’s going to be a nightly thing where we break it down into groups.
I remember that happened with the Dead a few times after Hornsby started playing with the group.
And that was really cool. I remember way back when, like 72 Veneta [8/27/72] they broke it down- Phil and just Billy were playing for a little while. There’s this one ‘Dark Star’ from Cleveland in 73 [12/6/73] with a section where it’s just Keith, Billy and Phil and it’s unbelievable. It doesn’t last very long but it; so cool, what a contrast. I remember the Hornsby ones were incredible. Of course he’s a tour de force by himself.
What was the oddest moment on stage at Bonnaroo?
Now oddest doesn’t have to connote negative. The oddest moment was when Joan walked out during Space and started scatting. That was really cool and very unexpected. She just got the idea in her head, went with it and everybody loved it
Had she done that in rehearsal?
No never and it had never been discussed. It’s just something that you would hope would happen, that’s what spontaneity is all about, being in the moment. She felt that was something she could contribute. All the more power to her, I hope she does more.
Who was the sweetest or most peculiar person you met yesterday and what they did to earn that title?
I think the sweetest person I met yesterday was just after I finished eating and walked out of the dinner tent, there was a guy with huge beaming smile. He looked at me and said, ‘Rob, man, will you do me the honor and sign an autograph for me.’ I said sure, so he hands me a sharpie and I’m waiting for him to hand me a piece of paper and I said, ‘What do you want me to sign?’ He said, ‘Just sign the shirt, man.’ And he pulls it out from his body and I signed it. But the look on the guy’s face was priceless.
What is your impression of Manchester or Tennessee from last night or past tours?
I don’t really know that much about Manchester because the only part of Manchester we see is just pulling into Bonnaroo. But when we were on the bus on the way to Bonnaroo we passed through a little- talk about a one horse town, there were just three or four buildings and we were all looking out the window going, ‘Whoa, this stuff still exists.’ You don’t see towns like that too much. Of course we stayed in Nashville and I think that city is amazing, there’s so much music happening. Jeff Chimenti and I went out to get some exercise, so we took a really long walk through the whole city and even in the early afternoon there was a lot of music happening. So that was pretty cool.
What song that the band hasn’t performed yet do you most look forward to playing?
I’m bad with the names of tunes [Laughs]...New Potato Caboose.
On this tour, are you and Jeff going to switch off, in turns of laying out on particular songs?
We’re going to be more vigilant about how thick the sound is. We want to thin it out a little bit. There are going to be certain tunes where either one or the other is going to play because some of the tunes don’t warrant two keyboards.
Are there going to be designated tunes for each of you are you going to switch back and forth on a given song over the course of the tour?
We have designated what tunes we’re going to do but we both agree that on any given night if one of us wants to play a certain tune we’ll ask each other and accommodate each other. We have a great relationship that way. Last night I was supposed to play "Sugar Magnolia" on piano and he asked me. "Would you mind if I played it on piano?" I said, "No man, go ahead." So I comped a bit of organ, because I mainly had vocals parts to do and let the piano take it. What’s cool is when the two of us are up there together even if we are both playing on a tune we’re conscious of the ebb and flow of the two keyboards. So sometimes I’ll just start playing and let him take it for a while and vice versa. It works really well that way. It serves the music.

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