Since the death of Jerry Garcia, no artist has resurrected the festive experience of psychedelic rock more than Grateful Dead guitarist Bob Weir. With the help of Dead drummer Mickey Hart, Weir conjured the traveling jam band atmosphere of the Furthur Festival as the main post-Dead touring extravaganza of the mid-'90s. Now, nearly six years later, Weir has continued his roaming musical circus under a new name, the So Many Roads Tour, and this time, he's backed by fresh acts that craft a hodgepodge of jazz, folk, and rock. Headlining the festival is Weir's latest backing band, Ratdog. Indulging in a synthesis of blues, jazz, country, and rock, Ratdog builds on the credo of free-flowing jam sessions, merging odd tonalities and time signatures with indulgent solos from the likes of horn player Kenny Brooks and bassist Rob Wasserman, a longtime Weir collaborator. Their only shortcoming is Weir's bong-scorched lead vocals, which easily fade on extended versions of songs such as "Corrina." But if the youngsters find the aging rocker motif a little unappealing, Weir has assembled a novel group of energetic performers to ease the pain. Furthur Festival co-conspirator Rusted Root will return to the tour with its unique African, Middle Eastern, and Latin-influenced music. But the real innovators are the side acts. The funk and acid jazz collaborations of Karl Denson's Tiny Universe and the hip-hop and jazz fusion of turntablist DJ Logic provide a new dimension to the jam band formula. Progressive folk and bluegrass guitarist Keller Williams rounds out the show with style. The result is a five- to six-hour jam band festival that's ideal for both young granola types and aging Deadheads.
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