RatDog is a band led by Bob Weir, one of the founding members of the Grateful Dead. The band was formed in 1995, during a hiatus of the Grateful Dead, and has been active on and off since then, with various lineups and members. RatDog has released several albums, and is known for its eclectic mix of rock, blues, jazz, and improvisational music.
The core lineup of RatDog has changed over the years, but it typically features Bob Weir on guitar and vocals, along with Jay Lane on drums, Robin Sylvester on bass, Jeff Chimenti on keyboards, and Steve Kimock on guitar. Other notable members who have played with the band include Mark Karan, Kenny Brooks, and Rob Wasserman.
One of the defining characteristics of Ratdog's music is its improvisational style. Like the Grateful Dead, Ratdog is known for its live performances, where the band members stretch out their songs and experiment with different musical ideas. The band's repertoire includes a mix of Grateful Dead classics, covers of blues and rock songs, and original compositions written by Weir and other members of the band.
RatDog's first album, "Evening Moods," was released in 2000. The album features a mix of original songs, as well as covers of songs by Bob Dylan, Willie Dixon, and others. The album received mixed reviews, but established RatDog as a force to be reckoned with in the world of improvisational rock music.
RatDog's second album, "RatDog Live," was released in 2001. The album is a two-disc set, featuring live recordings from the band's 2000 tour. The album showcases RatDog's improvisational skills, with extended versions of songs like "Jack Straw," "Scarlet Begonias," and "The Other One." The album was well-received by fans and critics alike, and cemented RatDog's reputation as a band that excels in a live setting.
RatDog has released several other albums over the years, including "The Way It Was," a live album featuring recordings from the band's 2003 tour; "Live at Roseland," a DVD featuring a 2006 concert in New York City; and "Evening Moods + RatDIn addition to their own albums, Ratdog has also collaborated with other artists over the years. In 2000, the band teamed up with jazz saxophonist Branford Marsalis for a series of concerts, which were later released as the album "Weir Here: The Best of Bob Weir." The album features Weir and Marsalis performing a mix of Grateful Dead songs and jazz standards.
RatDog has also played numerous benefit concerts over the years, including shows to raise money for organizations like the Rex Foundation and the National Resources Defense Council. In 2005, the band played a benefit concert for the victims of Hurricane Katrina, which was later released as the album "Katrina Benefit: A Musician's Relief Project."
Despite its success, RatDog has also faced its share of challenges over the years. In 2002, the band was forced to cancel several shows after Weir was diagnosed with a life-threatening intestinal disorder. Weir underwent surgery and made a full recovery, but the incident was a reminder of the fragility of life and the importance of taking care of oneself.
In 2014, RatDog announced that it would be taking an indefinite hiatus. The band cited various reasons for the decision, including the need for Weir to focus on other projects and the desire to explore other musical directions.