At first glance, Dead & Company may not have made much sense. Surviving members of the Grateful Dead (minus original bassist Phil Lesh) performing with guitarist John Mayer seemed a bit out of left field. But Mayer had a deep respect and love for the band’s music, and when he got together with guitarist Bob Weir, they both felt something magical.
“A year ago last winter, I did a TV show with John,” Weir said in a recent phone interview that also included Mayer. “And we were going to do like two songs, and we did a sound check that lasted about an hour and a half and touched on those two songs briefly, and then just went and kept going. And they finally had to unplug us.”
Mayer, who was guest hosting The Late Late Show on CBS, had invited Weir to play, and he also felt the chemistry.
“I had never experienced anything like that musically,” Mayer said, “where I floated in that particular place in the sound of the band.”
That performance led to the formation of Dead & Company, which consists of Weir, Mayer, original drummers Mickey Hart and Bill Kreutzmann, bassist Oteil Burbridge, and keyboardist Jeff Chimenti. The band debuted last Halloween at Madison Square Garden and then embarked on a tour. Fans loved it, and the band listened, so this summer will see more shows.
Mayer said it’s been an incredible experience to go from being a fan to being part of the band.
“What a trip, to be in your car,” he said, “falling in love with this music, and have your point of reference be your experiences in the car listening to music. Then to go on tour, play this music for people [and] have these incredibly deep moments with people. You can see it in their eyes. They’re watching the filmstrip of their life stack as this music plays.”
Catch Dead & Company at Jiffy Lube Live on Thursday, June 23 at 7 p.m. Tickets start at $40.
Jiffy Lube Live: 7800 Cellar Door Dr. Bristow, VA; 703-754-6400; www.livenation.com/venues/14407/jiffy-lube-live