RatDog Jams For 3 Hours at The Smith

Like a magician waving a wand, he set 1400 fans screaming by simply throwing a finger in the air on Tuesday night. Bob Weir, rhythm guitarist for the Grateful Dead, brought his six-piece, rock, jazz and blues ensemble, RatDog, to Geneva’s Smith Opera House for a three hour concert that included new originals, traditional standards and Grateful Dead songs, that are fairly obscure to the general public but revered as holy scripture by Deadheads. The night kicked off with an opening jam that kicked into the Dead’s classic “Playing in the Band”, that had new bass player Robin Sylvester madly plucking his bass guitar. Welcome to the band! A smooth transition from “Playin” took us right into a crowd favorite sing-a-long “I Need a Miracle”. No turning back now, a blues-jazz riff comes along, and it’s “Wang, Dang Doodle”, all night long! “Wrong Way Feeling” rocks the roof off the opera house, and it’s only the fourth song of the night. Time now to settle down, “Weather Report Suite” is the quiet ride into the crescendo that is “Let It Grow” Mark Karan lets his lead guitar scream, as the band jams and takes us into the very ragtime feel of “Artificial Flowers”. Jeff Chimetti bangs the keyboards; my hands hurt just watching him. To end the first set, its “West LA Fadeaway” from the Grateful Dead’s best selling 1980’s record “In the Dark” It’s the third time this year the song has been played in upstate New York. The Dead, on their summer tour, played the song at both Vernon Downs Raceway and The Darien Lakes Performing Arts Center. My friend Tony was at both those summer shows, but agrees tonight’s rendition is over the top with the saxophone of Kenny Brooks. This small guy looks like someone is stabbing him in the back. He dances and makes faces like crazy while all the time adding the great jazzy riffs on alto, baritone, and soprano saxophones! Bob is waving instructions to the band, and more than hour into the show the first set ended burning as hot at the current California wildfires. The second half of the show begins with an acoustic version of “City Girls”, a song that has not been played by the band in more than a year. “Stuck Inside with the Memphis Blues Again” is a great Bob Dylan cover, but with all those lyrics-Bob forgets a few lines. The crowd roars with approval as Bob looks to the ceiling for help. “Shade of Gray” takes us into a “Playing in the Band Jam”. Then it was like getting run over by a convoy of tractor-trailers! A very loud “Hell in a Bucket” and everyone is enjoying the ride! Drummer Jay Lane was pounding so hard, I cannot believe he didn’t knock the entire set upside down. “He’s Gone” reminded us all about the good old days with Jerry Garcia. A wild drums/space jam followed with Jay Lane signing some Pink Floyd and into the gutter with “Wharf Rat”. Right back to were we started the night the boys reprise “Playing in the Band”. I thought we done, but not so fast. On the heels of the longest encore of the entire summer tour at nearby Darien Lake, tonight the set ends with the speed of a northbound train a dancing favorite “China Cat Sunflower” and “I Know You Rider”. Two Dead favorites paired together forever. Encore time as the show is already over three-hours long. We all guessed wrong- It’s a 100 mph version of the Chuck Berry classic “Johnny B. Good” Bob Weir – He’s the “leader of the big old band” Next month, we live it all over again. The show was recorded live and will be released as a 3-CD set. Order yours today at www.ratdoglive.com. Photo: Legendary rock guitarist, Bob Weir of the Grateful Dead (shown here with our Greg Cotterill), brought his solo project “RatDog” to the Smith Opera House Tuesday night.

Greg Cotterill-Fingerlakes1.com

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