So I’ve been playing with the band The Fever for quite a long time and we had the amazing pleasure of having Bob Weir not only show up but also sit in on our gig at the Fountain Valley School in Fountain, Colorado Springs. Here is how it went down.
So we showed up to set up for the Fountain Valley Alumnis Weekend, an event the band plays every year. This time we were informed there would be a special guest. When I asked who, I was told Bob Weir from the Grateful Dead.
It turns out Weir attended Fountain Valley as a sophomore in 1962-63 but did not graduate. At the event, he would celebrate his classmates' 50-year reunion, where he was honored with an induction into the school's Arts Guild ... and his diploma.
In a short speech after receiving his accolades, Weir fondly recalled his time on the school's undefeated football team, whose waterboy John Perry Barlow became his close friend and future Grateful Dead lyricist. Weir also talked about his interactions with music, science and English instruction, and his penchant for "creative mischief," which ultimately resulted in his dismissal from the school.
While apocryphal Deadhead legend suggests that Weir was expelled from Fountain Valley for smoking pot, both Weir and staff at the school are quick to insist this wasn't the case — it was more simply his mischievousness and "unrestrained exuberance."
"In the end," chuckled Weir during his speech, "I was just a bit too rambunctious for an institution that needed to preserve some semblance of order." Ultimately, Weir admitted that receiving "the boot" was the best thing to ever happen to him, as he was well on his path by that time. "I found that path here; that's what this place is all about."
And after all of that as our band sat enjoying our vendor meal, we were approached by the headmaster and informed that Bobby wanted to sit in with the band. I was stunned as a longtime veteran deadhead, I attended roughly 60 or so GD shows in my early years mostly in the late 70s and early 80s. We offered up Shakedown Street as the only Grateful Dead song we knew even though this is a Jerry Garcia song, originally written and sung by Jerry. Bob agreed to that and asked us to also play one More Saturday Night as it was Saturday night. Our band huddled and learned the song off iphones and jotting notes on cocktail napkins. When the time came, Bob came to the stage and I greeted him with a handshake. As the headmaster made some announcements, Ryan Jalbert (of the Motet who was sitting in with us that night) gave Bobby his guitar and likely sulked that he did not have a 2nd guitar with him that night. As Bobby started noodling on the guitar I decide someone needed to actually talk to him, so I walked around and chatted with his to make sure we were on the same page. Although I am not the band’s manager, I stepped up as the only band member who had ever seen the Dead also twice the age of most of my bandmates. Bob was kind and to the point and we were ready to perform.
Bobby led the band in and out of both songs, and was gracious enough to throw me the solo on Shakedown Street and Tyler Farr (saxophonist) the solo on Shakedown Street. The crowd went wild and he wisked off into the night like a cool breeze. While I thought about getting “that picture” we needed to continue our performance and went right to our next song, and I never saw him again. Of all the famous musicians out there what are the odds that Bob Weir would be the person I would get to sit in with. I’ve literally seen him about 60 times more than any other band. This truly was my 15 minutes, and for this I am eternally Grateful. - Peace Out!