Move Me Brightly: An Interview With Bob Weir

Aaron Kayce on August 3, 2012

TONIGHT AUGUST 3 @ 9:30 p.m. EST/6:30 p.m. PST on and Yahoo! Music: Move Me Brightly – Celebrating Jerry Garcia’s 70th Birthday

Bob Weir is throwing a birthday party for his old friend and Grateful Dead bandmate Jerry Garcia, who would have turned 70 on August 1, and everyone is invited. The event, billed as “Move Me Brightly,” a lyric from fan favorite “Terrapin Station,” will be webcast for free tonight in high definition live from Weir’s state of the art TRI Studios located in San Rafael, CA.

The evening will feature roughly 25 Garcia songs, from both the Dead and his solo work, interpreted by some of the brightest music stars spanning several generations. Led by Weir, the rotating cast will feature fellow Grateful Dead bandmate Donna Jean Godchaux, Phish’s Mike Gordon, Furthur’s Joe Russo and Jeff Chimenti, Vampire Weekend’s Chris Tomson, Ryan Adams & the Cardinals’ Neal Casal and Jon Graboff, The Hold Steady’s Craig Finn and Tab Kubler, The Black Crowes’ Adam MacDougall, the Yellowbirds’ Sam Cohen and Josh Kaufman, Jim Lauderdale, Cass McCombs, Paul Simon’s son Harper Simon, Jonathan Wilson and a few very special guests. The event will be emceed by actor Luke Wilson ( Old School, The Royal Tenenbaums ) and will also include a video interview with Carlos Santana and a reading of David Crosby’s tribute to Garcia, “Cause I’m Missing Him Tonight.”

We were invited to the “Move Me Brightly” rehearsals at TRI Studios yesterday and had the opportunity to catch up with several of the shows biggest names to discuss what made Garcia so special and what they love about his music. Our conversation with Bob Weir appears below. Head over to for commentary by Mike Gordon, Luke Wilson, Craig Finn, Neal Casal and more.

There are many artists we love and honor and will never forget, but we don’t do this for them, what made Garcia so special that his light continues to shine so bright 17 years after his death?

The songs he wrote, in this particular case. There were great performers throughout history that you hear legacies about, Enrico Caruso; there are very few recordings of him and what you really get were testimonials about how wonderful they were; great violinist like Paganini I think of. With Jerry, he left a legacy both of recordings and songs, and the songs are living testimony to Jerry’s musical legacy; they live and breathe when you play them. It’s no big mystery, they’re fun to play; they get people involved.

Beyond being Garcia songs, how did you choose the material for this event?

A lot of that got done while I was on the road. I threw in a couple of tunes I wanted to do, but in this case I wanted the folks who we were bringing in to bring in their own suggestions of the tunes that really rung their bells. So that’s what we did and I did the same. And if a couple of people wanted to do the same tune we sorted it out.

What’s your favorite, or current favorite, Garcia song?

That’s impossible to answer; it’s a different song every time.

Levitating Jerry on Letterman

How did you assemble the players?

That was done sort of organically, a couple of players from a couple of projects I’ve done earlier and some guys that they brought. There’s a generation below them of Deadhead musicians and that will probably be one of the next projects, is to get the real newbies.

There’s been a real resurgence of appreciation for Garcia and Dead music in general in the younger generation of music fans and players; do you have any sense for why the Dead’s music continues to grow as it does?

The thing about it is what we did was highly improvisational and a lot of fun, there was a lot of adventure in it, and that appeals to a certain kind of human. These are bright, adventurous kids. They don’t see a whole hell of a lot of that in current offerings in popular music so they drift our direction because it’s always been there. But they’re taking the ball now, it’s theirs to run with, and they do, I guess we sort of set a pattern and we more or less inherited that from the jazzbos, state a theme, take it for a little walk in the woods, but I guess we’re sort of famous for having electrified that and bringing in the Americana canon with it.

Why is TRI the place for this celebration?

Because it’s a real good facility built for the purpose of what we’re doing, broadcasting. I don’t think there’s another facility that has quite the quality that we can put out and we have some extras bells and whistles once you get here as well. I built it to be a really fun place to play, and aside from that we can also film and record and broadcast.

I read that you built this with studio with Garcia in mind, what did you mean by that?

Back in the old days when Jerry was still around I had a home studio and Jerry and I spent a lot of time together up there just messing around having fun. This is sort of an extension of that. I started over here, and I have much better equipment than I had back in my little home studio, but just bearing in mind the experiences; we made Blues for Allah there and Jerry got sort of used to coming up there. Jerry would get thrown out of the house he’d come straight up there, or he’d have an idea and he’d come up and he’d want to put it down, we’d trade ideas, all that kind of stuff. With that in mind, the kind of fun we were having there, we built this place. And in building this place I used a bunch of Jerry’s old friends, engineers and stuff, so they all intuitively knew what I was looking for.

Favorite Garcia memory?

It’s not my ultimate favorite, but the time we levitated old Jer on David Letterman, that was a lot of fun.

Obviously you wanted to celebrate and honor Jerry, but was there anything else behind this event?

No, that’s it. It’s a great excuse to have a celebration, there’s great music to hang on that celebration and the idea is just to have some fun with it.