Inside the Head of a Grateful Dead; Bob Weir Goes with the Groove

Article excerpt

Byline: Eyder Peralta, Times-Union staff writer

Of all the things that could inspire Bob Weir, it's the iPod that's currently bringing him epiphanies. The Grateful Dead rhythm guitarist has had countless other side projects, of which RatDog has become his most lasting. But Apple's super-slim digital music player seems most on his mind these days.

Weir lives in California, with great mountains for a back yard. As he scrambled to find a telephone that worked, he kept handing out numbers like a deli worker at Publix, except at a more languid pace.

"In my house, the land lines are very poor," he said, excusing the fact that over the phone he sounded like he was at the far end of a cave.

When the sound was finally bearable, he talked about his iPod.

"I just had a fairly life-changing experience: I got myself an iPod. And in the mornings I put my iPod on when I go out for a trot. I trot for close to an hour, and I got it on shuffle, and I got, at this point, a couple of thousand tunes, and it's all stuff that I know I'm gonna want to hear. It's not like listening to the radio.

"Yesterday for instance, I was out, and I ran up to the top of this hill. While I was at the top of this hill, what came on was Africa Brass by John Coltrane. And by the end of that tune it tapers down into a drum solo and at the end of the drum solo, he has a fairly large ensemble on that recording, and they come back in, they sort of sneak back in and Coltrane comes back in with his final solo. I gotta say I had an epiphany. It was . . . I can't describe it," he said.

Weir is soft-spoken, and takes his time talking, though he speaks in a very stream-of-consciousness fashion. …