Ratdog on Groove Grass bill
Groove Grass, the two-day music festival making its debut at Sunlight Mountain Resort in July, may not be intended as a replacement for the defunct Aspen Harmony Festival. But Groove Grass, the product of radio station KSPN and several of its sister stations, will have more in common with the Harmony Festival than just being a multiday, mid-summer music extravaganza in a mountain setting.Groove Grass, which announced most of its lineup last week, will cap its first appearance with a set by Bob Weir’s Ratdog. Ratdog was a featured act at last year’s Harmony Festival, and made a rare club appearance at the Howling Wolf in addition to its main-stage performance. Ratdog will close day two of Groove Grass, scheduled for July 22-23 outside of Glenwood Springs.Ratdog grew out of a musical relationship between former Grateful Dead singer-guitarist Weir and jazz bassist Rob Wasserman. The two met when both jammed with late bluesman Willie Dixon during a 1987 concert at Sweetwater, a Mill Valley, Calif. club. A year later, when Wasserman set out to put together a benefit event to celebrate the release of his acclaimed “Duets” CD, he invited Weir to participate. Weir accepted, and the gig led to the formation of a Weir-Wasserman duo that toured when the Dead were off the road.Weir and Wasserman expanded the duo into a quartet, named Ratdog, just weeks before the death of Jerry Garcia led to the disbanding of the Dead. With the Dead no longer in existence, Ratdog became Weir’s primary project. Over the last five years, Ratdog has expanded into a sextet featuring drummer Jay Lane, saxophonist Dave Ellis, guitarist Mark Karan and keyboardist Jeff Chimenti in addition to Weir and Wasserman. The band’s repertoire includes classic r & b and blues tunes, Dead material and new Weir tunes.Day one of Groove Grass, the Grass day, opens with the David Nelson Band, followed by the acoustic duo of Peter Rowan & Tony Rice, the David Grisman Quintet and the Tony Furtado Band. The Groove Grass Jam, a jam featuring Grisman, Rowan, Rice and Furtado, closes the day. A midnight show, with sets by the Furtado Band, the Motet and Solar Tribe, is also planned for those camping at the concert site.Day two begins with the Groove Grass Mass, featuring chanting monks, yoga and music by Solar Tribe. The main stage music starts with Walter “Wolfman” Washington, and follows with the North Mississippi All Stars, Robert Bradley’s Blackwater Surprise and Ratdog.Tickets for Groove Grass are available at Funky Mountain Threads in Aspen.
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