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Bobby Weir & Wolf Bros Present a New Breed of Career-Spanning Classics at the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville

by Rich and Laura Lynch

Bob Weir & Wolf Bros brought the house down on night one of two at the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville, Tennessee on March 11th, 2023. Fans from near and far packed the pews for a night of music that included plenty of Grateful Dead tunes, some classic covers along with a few songs from Bobby's catalogue. As the band took the stage fans rose up and remained on their feet for the night singing and swaying to the opening numbers "New Speedway Boogie" flowing into "Crazy Fingers" with plenty more to follow as the group paid their respects to the history of The Dead.

The legendary Bob Weir returned to the hallowed Ryman stage with an expanded band.

When Bob joined the Grateful Dead back in 1965, he was the "kid" in the group. In 2023, Weir is the well-respected grandfather of the jam band scene. Early on, The Dead were known for improvisation thus never playing a song the same way twice in the live setting. They also continually changed set lists. This free form approach to music gave them a fervent following with many of those people still traveling to see Bob Weir today. We saw both young and older fans in the crowd with many sporting Grateful Dead gear. We even caught a few folks stretching in advance of a night of dancing while others were preparing for the event in other ways.

The Dead through the decades have been through many triumphs and tragedies. Yet, they with Bobby at the helm have carried on in various configurations and name changes while remaining true to their truth of playing expansive, experimental music. Bobby Weir & Wolf Bros with Don Was on bass, Jay Lane on drums, and Jeff Chimenti on keys uphold that tradition. With the assistance of horns and strings they are putting innovative spins on the Dead's extensive canon as well as Weir's solo work.

Atmospheric lights and haze added to the overall trippy vibe at the Mother Church.

The Wolf Bros formed in 2018 with Weir on guitar and vocals, Don Was on upright bass, and Jay Lane on drums. They previously toured the U.S. in the fall of 2018, the spring of 2019 and in early 2020. In late 2020, Jeff Chimenti joined them and for this tour they have added the brass and string sections to give the classic catalogue an orchestral symphonic effect thus continuing to expand on the always evolving sound of the Grateful Dead. This arrangement is now affectionately referred to as the Wolfpack and they can sure pack a jam band punch.

As we were enjoying the good grooves at the show, we found ourselves thinking that Bob Weir must have been a canine in a past life. His previous solo project Ratdog followed a similar trajectory beginning as a duo to enlarge into a configuration that mirrored the Grateful Dead. The Wolf Bros combo started as a trio but have since expanded into an 11-piece big band. At the Ryman, they presented a well-played, patented 2 sets with an encore for a show that ran over three hours.

Highlights of set one included a roaming version of "Ramble on Rose" rolling into a number of succulent solos from various band members plus Bobby presented a creative twist on the Beatles' "Blackbird". Guest, harmonica player Mickey Raphael added animated accents to a number of tunes including Jerry Garcia's beloved "Birdsong". Set one was rock solid and for us set two was even better.

Rock and Roll Hall of Fameer Bobby Weir is also one of the founding father's of the ongoing jam band scene.

After the break more fan favorites from the Grateful Dead, including "Eyes of the World" meandering into "What's Going On" (Marvin Gaye) and the closer "Morning Dew" (Bonnie Dobson) which the Dead have made their own over the years. Since it was Saturday, the obvious encore was "One More Saturday Night" that ended the concert on high and for quite a few fans it was just a prelude to another night of jamming to follow on Sunday. Both shows were streamed live on FANS so Deadheads not at the Ryman could still be part of the fun.

SETLIST: Set 1 | New Speedway Boogie | Crazy Fingers | Ramble On Rose | Blackbird | Catfish John | Even So | October Queen | Bird Song | Set 2 | Help on the Way > Slipknot > Franklin's Tower | Looks Like Rain | Estimated Prophet > Eyes of the World > What's Going On > 'Eyes of the World' reprise) | Morning Dew | Encore | One More Saturday Night

The Wolf Bros winter trek concluded with two sold-out nights in Nashville.

Related Links: For more information on BOBBY WEIR & WOLF BROS and the other organizations mentioned please visit the following links - Bob Weir | Ryman Auditorium


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