In April, Slightly Stoopid renewed their collaboration with one of their musical heroes when they dropped by Bob Weir's Tamalpais Research Institute Studios in San Rafael, California, for a live webcast. During the show, the San Diego band, known for its groovy blend of funk, reggae, punk and other styles, teamed up with their host for a version of the Grateful Dead classic "Franklin's Tower." Above, watch the lively performance, punctuated with frequent solos from Weir, Slightly Stoopid guitarist Miles Doughty and guest saxophonist Karl Denson.
Billed as a "virtual music venue" and "the ultimate playpen for musicians," TRI is specifically designed to host webcasts. As the clip opens, Weir gives the musicians, including Fishbone member Angelo Moore, who appeared at the show but does not play on "Franklin's Tower," a tour of the studio's sonic features. Then the band kicks into its version of the song, originally heard on 1975's Blues for Allah and frequently performed at Dead shows in the Seventies and Eighties. Slightly Stoopid increase the tempo of the track and amplify its already-potent funk elements with a strong backbeat and festive horns. Weir and Doughty share singing duties, trading off on Jerry Garcia's original vocal part.
Slightly Stoopid had previously visited TRI and performed with Weir in 2011, but their sense of wonder in working with the legendary guitarist hasn't diminished. "It was an honor to play 'Franklin's Tower' with Bob Weir," drummer Ryan "Rymo" Moran told Rolling Stone. "I grew up in Marin County and the music and culture of the Dead was all around us. My sister would give me hand-me-down bootleg cassette tapes of live Dead. I went to my first shows in high school at the Shoreline Amphitheater. The Dead were a huge influence on my musical path. I appreciate the chances they would take with sound creation, texture, dissonance, improvisation and exploration. I loved that the space and drum improvisations every night had a different musical direction. I admire their career choices and path as a touring band with a devoted fan base."
Doughty concurs. "It's really amazing to jam with someone like Bob who was one of the musical pioneers of American music," the singer-guitarist told RS. "Uniting [Bob Weir] with Slightly Stoopid is really a perfect match," Denson adds. "They approach music in a very similar way, great songwriting first."
Slightly Stoopid have been on tour since June, and their Return of the Red Eye run continues through August 28th. Bob Weir's summer tour with Dead & Company winds down July 30th.