Song Premiere: Ace of Cups “The Well” feat. Bob Weir
photo by Rachael Wright
Ace of Cups, an all-female rock band hailing from the ’60s San Francisco psychedelic days of the Grateful Dead and Jefferson Airplane, will release their self-titled debut record, which was produced by Dan Shea, on November 9 via High Moon Records. Today, we premiere the second single from the album, “The Well,” featuring a special guest appearance from the group’s old friend Bob Weir.
The track pairs Weir’s earnest lead vocals with full harmonies and instrumentation from the Ace of Cups quartet, and includes a lilting guitar solo from Weir and his vintage Gretsch. Speaking on the impetus behind the tune, Ace of Cups’ Denise Kaufman tells Relix, “That moment when you look into someone’s eyes and feel right into their soul—’I can tell by the look in your eyes you been drinking from the well where the water runs deep.’ I walked around just singing that line for about a month. Then, as more of the song evolved, it became a holding place for a few lines we loved singing. They were like mantras and the band would sing them over and over, harmonize them, explore different grooves—just playing. We knew there were too many theme or ‘hook’ lines to keep in this one song but we loved singing them all because they were real and true for us.”
Kaufman was born and raised in San Francisco before moving to Palo Alto in 1962 and frequenting local spaces like The Tangent and Dana Morgan Music, where Weir and Jerry Garcia were also known to appear. She joined up with Ken Kesey and his Merry Pranksters in 1965, eventually connecting with Weir at the Grateful Dead’s first show under that now-legendary name, at the first large, public Acid Test on December 4 of that year. Ace of Cups ended up spending time with the Dead at San Francisco Avalon Ballroom in the ensuing years.
“When Bobby Weir (my dear pal from our days ‘On the Bus’ together) generously agreed to sing on our album, it was time to lose those mantras and get to the essence of the song—moving from separation to connection,” Kaufman continues. “Bobby’s vocal is deep, vulnerable and beautiful and he played a rare and transcendent electric guitar solo. ‘…feel the shimmer in the ties that bind.'”
(l-r) Ari Rios (Laughing Tiger Studios), Dan Shea (producer), Denise Kaufman, Bob Weir