In honor of what would have been Jerry Garcia's 70th birthday today, guitarist Bob Weir sat down to discuss the band's new 18-CD box set, Spring 1990, featuring six complete shows from that tour – considered by many fans to be one of the best of the Dead's final era.
In the clip – filmed at his TRI Studios in San Rafael, California where he's preparing to lead an all-star musical tribute to Garcia on Friday – Weir speaks about why the Spring 1990 tour was so memorable. "For my money, this was our hottest era," he says. "We couldn't wait to go on tour; we couldn't wait to play because it was really working for us and it was keeping us amused. We had been working together as a unit for a good length of time."
Of "Scarlet Begonias," which you can preview exclusively at RollingStone.com, Weir says that it had already been a longtime fan favorite, but the band really "found a groove" with it on the Spring 1990 tour, which allowed them to explore new territory within the song's confines and push its structural boundaries. "We got comfortable enough in those tunes so that we could do a little exploration, harmonically, rhythmically, whatever," says Weir. "We could go places with them. Everybody has to be way in tune with each other to be able to do that."
When Garcia wasn't touring with the Grateful Dead, he was constantly making music with various side-projects and collaborators. After performing the 16 concerts that the Spring 1990 box set draws from, Garcia recorded acoustic, bluegrass-inspired "dawg" music with mandolinist David Grisman. Those sessions resulted in the Grammy-nominated 1991 release, Garcia/Grisman. To mark Garcia's 70th, Grisman announced today the immediate digital release of an alternate version of that album, entitled Garcia/Grisman – Alternate, which features nine previously unreleased versions of the source material, including "Friend of the Devil" and "The Thrill is Gone." A re-release of the original Garcia/Grisman album is also now available, in HD, exclusively through Grisman’s digital label, Acoustic Oasis.