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Ratdog Leader Shy Of Retiring

Of the Oakland Press

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Bob Weir turned 60 in October, but the Grateful Dead member and RatDog leader says it’s just another number in his musical life.

“Y’know, I can’t think of what else I oughta be doing; I’m not ready to retire to the golf course,” Weir says. “Someone asked me once if I ever thought of retiring, and my drummer (Jay Lane) sort of piped in, ‘What great musician retires?’

“Another story is I was alone with (the late pianist) Johnnie Johnson on the bus one time when he was touring with us. He was getting old; he was having trouble getting in and out of his bunk. And I asked him, ‘Johnnie, have you ever thought about retiring?’ And he said, ‘Oh yeah — when my feets are pointed to high noon.’

“That pretty case-hardened my resolve to do what I do until I just can’t do it anymore.”

Weir has plenty to do, too. With RatDog back on the road — including guitarist Mark Karan, who’s returned from throat cancer treatments — Weir is eyeballing a new album with the band as well as an “environmental project” that he hopes to announce in the near future. He’s also still looking for a producer for his musical about the life of Negro League pitcher Satchel Paige.

And then there’s the Dead, which reactivated briefly in February at the “Deadheads for (Barack) Obama ‘08” rally in San Francisco. Weir says that if Obama is successful in his bid for the Democratic presidential nomination, the Dead may live again this year.

“It was our first straight-up political event ever. We had fun,” Weir said. “I would be surprised if we don’t get around to playing again at some point. But, really, my hot hand right now is RatDog, and I think that goes for Phil (Lesh) with his group, and Mickey (Hart) has a project and Billy (Kreutzmann) is sort of happily retired over in Hawaii.

“But we’ll get together again. I’m sure of that.”

RatDog performs Friday (March 28) at the Royal Oak Music Theatre, 318 W. Fourth St. Doors open at 8 p.m. Tickets are $49.50, $35 and $32. Call (248) 399-2980 or visit www.royaloakmusictheatre.com.

Web Site: www.royaloakmusictheatre.com

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