Friday, July 20, 2007

From MK's Webpage:
MK Update - 7.20.07

Many of you already know that Mark is battling throat cancer. For the latest update, please visit Unfortunately, you have to sign in, etc. to get to the "getwellmark" (all one word) page. But once you've saved your info, it's just two clicks in to check on him. We'll be putting updates there regularly to let you know the details of his treatment and recovery.

Meanwhile, we are overwhelmed by the love, support, and prayers that have come from around the world. Once mark gets settled in for his first week of chemo, he'll be back with another message (we've been a bit swamped to get this all going). Please keep him in your thoughts for the journey ahead. -MK family


m band one of America’s great pastimes

Vic’s Picks
Vic Vela

In an attempt to describe the “circus is in town”-like concert scene that is a Grateful Dead show, historian David Gans once likened performances by the enigmatic grandfathers of jam band music to that of baseball games:

“No two are ever alike. The plays are always different, and there’s always fresh hope. Sometimes the game’s an all-timer even though the individual performances are sloppy; sometimes everybody plays great, but the team loses anyway.”

Yes, the Dead lost a lot during their historic 30-year run: a few keyboardists and the iconic fat man himself, Jerry Garcia, to be sure.

The band often failed. For every tight and crisp show during a three, four, five or six night city run, there was a performance that they and their fans probably preferred to sweep under the rug, while looking forward to a better performance during the next gig.

But for the least perfect of all perfect bands, the Dead’s place in music history will never “Fade Away.” They were significant. They were marvels. They were the epitome of Americana.

Gans hit it right on the head when he compared a Dead show to a baseball game; a comparison one of the band’s founding members, Bob Weir, believes to be right on the money.

“I guess there used to be a lot of idle time between tunes, kind of like baseball games,” said Weir during a June phone interview from his home in Mill Valley, Calif. “There was a lot of strategy, too.

“Something of a similar pace. There were some furious knots of energy, anticipation, and then a lot of solid play.”

An original member of the band, Weir was known as the “baby” of the group. In 1965, in the city at the center of all that is storybook of psychedelic rock and roll history — San Francisco — 16-year-old Weir took his place as the Dead’s rhythm guitarist and co-vocalist. Penning the unique music and rhythm chops for Dead anthems, such as “Truckin’,” “Playing in the Band,” “Sugar Magnolia” and “Jack Straw,” Weir provided the jolt and jump for the band — the antonym of Garcia’s feathery and euphonious lead.
While the Grateful Dead is no longer, Weir continues to perform. His outfit of the last 12 years, Ratdog, will perform at Red Rocks Tuesday — a Colorado venue the 59-year-old rock and roll statesman is rather familiar with.

“It’s really tough to sing up there,” joked Weir. “There’s not a lot of air if you’re singing, and it’s just a lot more work hitting those notes.”

But, while music is Weir’s lifeline, the sports world too encompasses a significant part of his being. Spending the majority of his life in the San Francisco Bay area, Weir is a fan of all things Golden Gate; this includes the Giants. As Barry Bonds approaches the home run record, Weir minces few words toward the baseball purists who bemoan the soon-to-be new Home Run King.

“They get all snitted up about the littlest things,” Weir said. “Sure, he’s gonna eclipse the record, but in a few years, someone else is going to do it anyway. So, what’s the deal here?”

Weir said records are bound to be “short lived” because of the “bionically engineered” modern day athlete. And, while he is aware of the steroids controversy that clings to Bonds, Weir keeps perspective.

“All of the steroids on earth can’t make you hit a baseball,” Weir said.

Weir, also a 49ers fan, expresses his condolences to Broncos fans for the team missing the playoffs last season.

“I’m sorry about that game last year,” he said. “But, I don’t think (the Broncos) really were ready to wade into the postseason. And they got bit.”

As his 60-year mark approaches, Weir says he has a lot left to accomplish. One of his goals is to finally set in motion a musical that pays tribute to the baseball great, Satchel Paige.

“It’s more or less written,” said Weir. “But, I still need to shop it around. It’ll get done because those kinds of work don’t tarnish.”