Next February, Grateful Dead guitarist Bob Weir will perform a series of special shows when Bob Weir and Wolf Bros featuring The Wolfpack team with the National Symphony Orchestra at the Kennedy Center in Washington D.C. The four concerts will be held February 9 – 10 and 12 – 13, 2022.
The Wolf Bros lineup for the shows will find Bobby joined by bassist Don Was, drummer Jay Lane and keyboardist Jeff Chimenti as per the Kennedy Center’s website. The Wolf Pack horn and string section features violinist Mads Tolling, trombonist Adam Theis, trumpeter Brian Switzer, woodwind specialist Sheldon Brown and cellist Alex Kelly.
Bobby discussed the upcoming performances during a March interview with Relix’s Dean Budnick. Dean asked Weir about playing with The Wolf Pack as part of livestream concerts originating from TRI Studios in San Rafael, California. The guitarist mentioned the shows with the NSO at the Kennedy Center would take place this fall but now the concerts have been confirmed for February 2022. He also added they will feature the debut of a concerto.
Here’s what Bobby told Budnick in response to his query regarding The Wolf Pack:
Over the last few years, I’ve been working on orchestrating a number of Grateful Dead pieces, a couple dozen of them. They’re full orchestrations. They’re dense. I’ve been working with a guy named Giancarlo Aquilanti for a while now. We’re putting together what’s basically a concerto grosso, which is a form where there are soloists. It’s kind of like a symphony, but in this particular case, it’s going to probably take three nights to perform the whole thing.
We’ve orchestrated the songs in a fashion where they can be employed modularly, so that, for instance, if we do a three-night run at one venue and then go to another venue, the songs won’t come in the same order. It’s going to be like all my bands do it—every night will be different. And we’re also working up some techniques to get a symphony orchestra improvising for long periods of time. Now, of course, most of what is played by the orchestra is going to be scored. But there are going to be long sections where we have section leaders who are given options. We need to practice it a little bit first, but the fact is that the performances of the songs will never be the same, either.
As part of that, we’re going to embed improv leaders in the orchestra, who can lead their sections. For instance, we’ve got a guy who’s a great cellist, and in the passages where we want to start looking into improvisation, he can lead the charge for that section. We’ve identified five people so far that we’re confident can do this, so we need to work with them as much as we can to get everybody on the same page when it comes to the improv. The five players that we have are quite good and they’re picking it up real quick. It’s sounding pretty plump and full when we try it with just 10 pieces. Frankly, it’s already sounding pretty enormous and I’m kind of happy with it. Right now, we’re due to debut the concerto in the fall with the National Symphony Orchestra at the Kennedy Center. So that’s why we are having them be part of this right now.
Steeven Reineke will serve as conductor. The concerts on February 9, 10 and 12 have a start time of 8 p.m., while the finale on Sunday, February 13 will start at 7 p.m. ET.