On Saturday afternoon in Chicago, backstage at the World Amphitheater in Chicago, I interviewed, in order, Bruce Hornsby, Mickey Hart, and Bob Weir. When you see a statement that starts with Question:, that means the question was asked by someone in the AOL Live auditorium. Since I knew we'd be changing guests quickly, I had several questions of my own ready in case I had trouble pulling any from the audience queue. So, without furthur adieu:
Copyright 1997 America Online, Inc. and the GD Forum
Geoff Gould : Welcome to today's special GDF event. My name is Geoff Gould, and I am the AOL GD Forum coordinator.
Today we are pleased to have be coming to you live from the World in Chicago, site of today's Furthur Festival. Reviews of the shows so far have been killer. Robert Hunter even joined the tour last night at Alpine Valley
GG : Our next guest is Bruce Hornsby, welcome Bruce
Bruce Hornsby : And a wonderful welcome back to you. Are you related to Glenn Gould?
GG : No, but my wife plays piano!
GG : I hear you've got a new guitar player, which is different than last year.
BH : Yes, in the middle of the tour we added Cary Park, an old friend of our drummer Molo. He's never rehearsed with us, but he picked up with us at a couple of gigs with us in California in May. Mark Ford of the Black Crowes is pissed off at me now because he wanted to play with us more. He had been playing with us alot before Cary joined.
GG : Can you tell us about him and the presence of a guitar in the band?
BH : I've always liked not having a guitar in the band the last few years because it allowed alot of space in the music. But there's a certain powerful sonic element that the guitar bringss to the music that is a welcome addition. One has to remember that our band is basically an acoustic aggregation and it helps to have the "balls" of the electric instrument
Question : bruce: how about playing "stranger in a strange land again"? i requested it at Great Woods.....remember?
BH : That's a fine suggestion. More people should know about Leon Russell''s music anyway. I have a feeling that most of the people in the crowd don't know who he is.
GG : That was from a GREAT Leon Russel album!
BH : Leon Russell and the Shelter People! Our version is the "bluegrass" version from the era when he played with the New Grass Revival.
Question : Bruce, what was your favorite tour you did with the Dead?
BH : There were lots of highlights during my 20 months with the group. Certain shows come to mind as opposed to whole tours. The first week at Madison Square Garden was very special. I basically came in off the street winging it with no rehearsal. There was alot of spontaneity that week which didn't continue. Europe '90 was a fun tour. Boston Garden Fall of '91 had a couple of memorable nights, And in '95 I sat in with the band in Charlotte on piano; they rented one locally and we had a great night playing.
Question : How is it touring with the Black Crowes??
BH : Our band and the Black Crowes are real kindred spirits. I've known Chris for several years but never knew the band. We've had a great time together on this tour and as the audience can see, I play with their band alot and they play with my band alot. I would imagine it will be relationship that will continue in the future. I think it's regrettable that a lot of the Deadheads have not accepted them or given them a chance. They are a great band.
GG : Deadheads are supposed to be open-minded, we'll see.
GG : What's been your role in the acoustic jams?
BH : Bruce: My role is that I'm the only one up there not playing an acoustic instrument. The acoustic jam is one of the most enjoyable parts of the night. I think the crowd seems to be enjoying it too.
GG : What about the closing jams? Different role?
BH : I still don't play an acoustic instrument on the closing jam! (I wish I did) I feel that my role in the electric jam is to try to keep it from becoming a big roar and a big mess. If you get too many people on stage flailing away, and not listening, it's a very unmusical situation and the jam has become that in some instances, so I and a few others try to keep our antennae up to keep that from happening
GG : So, rumor says you're a big Jake LaMotta fan; what's that all about? ;-)
BH : Raging Bull has been our favorite bus tape on the road for the past 11 years. We can basically quote it from start to finish now. I was invited to Jake LaMotta's 75th birthday party but we have a gig that day, so I can't go.
Question : Bruce, what kind of stuff is on the new album? And are you planning a fall tour to support it?
BH : The new record won't come out until next year so we'll tour next year. I was just about finished with this record but we had this 2 month break for the Furthur Festival and I found myself writing lots of new songs, so now a record that was almost completed is now about halfway there. I'm going to start recording the new songs when I get off the road.
Question : Hey Bruce,I was just wondering what was your favirote song that you recorded with Jerry? I like Pastures of Plenty
BH : I love the way Garcia plays on the song "Barren Ground" from our 3rd record, Night on the Town. I think Garcia was proudest of his work on Across The River and Barren Ground on that record.
GG : Thanks for being here Bruce. A big hand for Bruce!
BH : I've got little girl's hands as Jake LaMotta would say, but some of my favorite piano players have them too so it's okay. Thanks!
GG : Our next guest is Mickey Hart, welcome Mickey
Mickey Hart : It's good to be alive.
GG : tell us a little about the difference between this band and Mystery Box
MH : Big difference! The ladies are not part of this hybrid mutation that we know and love as Planet Drum.
GG : who's in Planet Drum?
MH : The engine is the same: Zakir Hussein, Bakithi Kumalo, Sikiru Adepajo, Dave Garibaldi, Giovanni Hidalgo, and me! And RAMU
GG : What's it like working with RAMU and Bralove?
MH : Bralove is the feeder. It's great this time out. Its like a pilot to copilot. We've developed our own secret language using all of the intuitive powers we learned in the Grateful Dead. So you see what we have here is a sleek time machine, a sort of rhythmic delta force
GG : Jorma's been sitting in with you on a couple of numbers we hear. Are you softening your stance on guitars? ;-)
MH : Not necesarily. I love a great guitar. Jorma is the first..... honored guest, a visitor to our planet When Jorma grows old he will have a place of his own on planet drum. Not a big place, but somewhere where he will be safe. We all love him very much.
GG : We hear you're into some of the ambient/electronica music such as Chemical Bros. and Orb.
MH : Really into the Chemical Bros. I love their edge. I saw them live and it was a sonic wonder. They were using GD PA driving at about 140 db, It had the clothes on my body dance, I looked down and saw my sleeve dancing. It was LOUD, and powerful.
GG : The recent Moodswings CD has some very Rhythm Devils-like tracks; have you heard them? They're an English techno-psychedelic duo.
MH : I' ve heard of them but haven't heard the music yet; I'll check them out.
Question : Mickey what do you think of Phish?
MH : I really haven't listened to them carefully. Obviously they've got something, and soooner or later I will get around to listening to them. I mostly listen to indigenous music and electronic based music. which Ive always been fascinated with the mixing of the archaic world and the digital domain. It's a great challenge. Like mixing electric and acoustic instruments.
Question : Mickey -- what did you want to be as a child? Where did you debut?
MH : Lost in the mists of time is the forumlative moment. Somewhere around age 3 or 4 on the pots and pans in the kitchen. I always wanted to be a drummer. I never had a choice. Mom & Dad were both drummers. Conversation always seemed to get back to the drums.
GG : What's it like having Hunter around at Furthur?
MH : I love Hunter!!! It feels nice and warm and cozy.
GG : warm fuzzies?
MH : We meet backstage and quip at each other. I'm hanging with him here more than I have at home and hopefully he'll get into the Planet Drum and write some more killer lyrics for me. We'll suck him into our Planet Drum forcefield! We'll tractorbeam him!
Question : Are you coming out with another book? What are your upcoming projects?
MH : What do you think? There's always another book and there's always another cd. Right now I'm trying to stay focused on Planet Drum & I want to take this band around the world. I'd love to do a world tour, to cross geographic boundries. I did do a movie score to the last Tupac Shakur movie! I want to try to stay focused, though, on Planet Drum
Question : Mickey, the San Quentin album was great, any plans for more of that type of an album ?
MH : That was just a wild hair, no plans. I am not planning on going to other penetenteries. I spent months at night behind the walls of San Quentin, not the most conducive for a relaxed musical experience. It was not pretty. It was very worthwhile but not to do on an everyday basis.
GG : Tell the people in the rest of the country why they shouldn't miss this Furthur tour
MH : This is a unique experience, it seems like the blood pumping through, this energy is working for us. It's a great groove. It's real life not a manufactured thing. The world of music i so prepackaged now. Here they can hear so many different kinds of music in 7 hours and you get alot of bang!
GG : Thanks Mickey. A big hand for Mickey
MH : Mickey: Tell everyone in the world hello! Thanks.
GG : Our next guest is Bob Weir, welcome Bobby.
Bob Weir : Hiya
GG : What are the differences between Ratdog this year and last year? Please tell us about your new members too.
BW : Many and varied. Muleiple and splended. First off we're sporting a sax player, name is Dave Ellis. He is just more fun than a frog in a glass of milk. For the most part we are playing with Jeff Chimenti on keyboards. He is our most recent addition. Both he and Dave come from jazz background. So we are able to get a little looser than we have in the past. Also,we've had time to work up a number of tunes from the Grateful Dead book, folks seem to like that.
GG : Why have you been able to play more GD songs?
BW : Because we've had the time to work them up. These guys are quick studies.
GG : What's it like playing with the Black Crowes?
BW : A hell of alot of fun. They can get out there.
Question : Hey. Ive seen Furthur a couple of times and think it is a lot better than last year's. Bobby, how's about dusting off Weather Report Suite (now that would be something!) Also do you have any plans for an upcoming fall tour?
BW : We will get around to it. It will be labor intensive. There are a million chord changes. We have our best guys working on a fall tour.
Question : Bobby, really enjoyed the choice of Misty in Raleigh...what inspired that selection?
BW : It's a great tune, written by Errol Garner, a fellow San Franciscan.
Question : moe.'s jamming this very second...Have you guys enjoyed their jams and silly antics this tour?
BW : Hell, yes
Question : Have you ever performed with Hunter? Any plans to?
BW : Haven't even thought about it; it could easily happen.
Question : Howdy Bob,When is Rat Dog gonna put out an album??
BW : Bobby: We got our best guys on it!
GG : sounds good
GG : What's it like having Hunter around?
BW : It's fun to watch him and I'm looking forward to working with him on new tunes.
GG : how are the jams goin'?
BW : For the most part they are alot of fun. We got all kinds of players. We can do just about anything.
Question : Bobby, music aside for amoment, are you still mountain bike riding? And what type of bike do you own ?
BW : An old Fisher Prometheus. When I get home I'll get it back out. Actually I have it on tour with me.
Question : How about some old Ratdog material like Shade Of Grey, Salt Lake City, and Josephine?
BW : Next fall maybe
GG : Tell the west-coasters why we shouldn't miss Furthur.
BW : Best music you're going to get this summer!
GG : tell us about Sherri Jackson
BW : Bobby: Sherri is a new favorite of mine. I had never heard her before this tour. Now I'm thinking she has a great band and I'm thinking about bringing her out on tour in the fall. I haven't asked her yet. Moe would be great too.
Question : any chance of a BOBBY ZONE a la Phil? When will the box sets be released?
BW : You should address that to Phil or John Cutler. I have dick to do with the vault releases. I've just got too many other fish to fry.
GG : an audience member wants to know about the Satchel Paige project; update?
BW : We'll be workshopping that this fall and hope to get it on the boards in regional theater back east next spring.
Question : hi Bobby!! Recently i've seen you bust out Dark Hollow and On the Road Again, any chance of bringing back Monkey and the Engineer??
BW : I save that for when I play schools and stuff like that
GG : any closing thoughts you'd like to share?
BW : I'll tell you, this tour is much better than last year's tour just in terms of interaction, esprit de corps and the fun faactor.
GG : A big hand for Bobby
GG : thanks for coming
BW : Thanks. Bye. Peace and veggies
GG : We'll now adjourn to the after-show party in the Terrapin Station chat room on the GDF front page (keyword: dead)!
GG : We bid you good night
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