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NIGHT LIFE THE CLUB SCENE : Half-Dead Duo : When Rob Wasserman teams up with Bob Weir, it's about the closest thing to a love-in you can find in these parts.

November 22, 1990|BILL LOCEY | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

Rob and Bob are coming back to the Ventura Theatre. Rob is the bass player. Bob plays guitar. Rob has a Grammy. Bob does not, but he probably has more fans--not bad for a Dead guy. Rob and Bob are neighbors despite the fact that Bob has been Dead for 24 years. Rob is Rob Wasserman. Bob is Bob Weir of the Grateful Dead. The duo will perform on Wednesday night.

To many Deadheads, the "Dead On The Beach" shows--performed at the Ventura Raceway during the '80s--were some of the best.

The city of Ventura felt otherwise, convincing the Fair Board to gong any further Dead shows in Ventura. Apparently, Deadheads are not the type of tourists the city is looking for.

Since the last Grateful Dead show in Ventura three years ago, the band has been finding fewer and fewer places allowing them to play. Amazingly, two longtime Northern California venues--UC Berkeley and Stanford--have also recently killed any future Dead shows. Maybe the band will be relegated to playing in Jerry Garcia's back yard.

With this recent dearth of the Dead, an appearance by Weir is about as close as it gets to the real thing for local Deadheads, who will doubtless be there in force dancing until they are dizzy.

Weir's publicist, as a precondition to an interview, insisted that no Grateful Dead questions be asked of Weir because he had just returned from a lengthy tour of Europe and was tired of all this Dead stuff, and if he had to answer one more Dead question, then, well, he'd rather be Dead. Here's the latest on Rob and Bob according to Bob himself:

Rob and Bob the tour--how goes it?

We're only doing three Southern California shows--San Juan Capistrano, Pasadena and Ventura. I'm gone on the road about six months a year, so Rob and I don't get to play often enough. When we do play, it's just the two of us with no opening act.

Rob and Bob the record--is there one?

There isn't a record yet, but there undoubtedly will be one when we get around to it.

Rob and Bob the duo--how did it start?

We've been neighbors for 15 years, but we never met until two years ago. There was a benefit for the Mill Valley Film Festival; they called me up and asked me to help out. There was a night of music called Rob Wasserman and Friends. We rehearsed for about 25 minutes, and it was just too much fun to walk away. We've toured two or three times since. The last time we played Ventura, we had a ball.

Describe Rob and Bob music.

It's pretty difficult to describe. Ron plays an acoustic bass or an electric upright bass; I play the guitar and do the vocals. We do mostly material from my various projects, even a couple of Dead songs. But this is not like a Grateful Dead concert--I try to keep the material separate because this project is sort of a vacation for me.

Who goes to see Rob and Bob?

Basically, Rob has a number of his own fans, plus there's plenty of Deadheads.

Have you two arrived as a bona fide musical act; I mean, do you have Rob and Bob T-shirts?

Yup, we have T-shirts and all that kind of stuff. People are out there taping just like at a Dead show.

How did you get started in the music biz?

Basically, I had very little choice except to play music. When I was younger I got into Chuck Berry, Jerry Lee Lewis and especially, the Everly Brothers. Then I got into folk like Joan Baez and the Kingston Trio, then later, more esoteric folk rock, then country blues, the Beatles and the Stones and modern jazz. I was in a number of bands before I joined the Dead in 1966.

What's the best and worst thing about being a rock god?

The best thing is getting to play. I love to play. The worst thing is the boredom and tedium associated with travel.

What do you do for fun?

Basically, I'm into all kinds of sports.

How 'bout those Niners? I think the Niners have a fair chance to establish themselves as one of the greatest football teams of all time if they can win the Super Bowl again.

What was your strangest gig?

Probably when Rob and I toured the Hawaiian Islands. We have a lot of fans over there.

What's in the future for Rob and Bob?

Well, we'd like to make a record; do some international touring. The whole point is to get to places I've never been.

No one can accuse Ojai Bowlful of Blues promoter Michael Kaufer of having no sense of adventure. On Dec. 3, at Alexander's in Ventura, Blue Monday becomes Red Monday when those loco locals with the reputation as big as all outdoors, Raging Arb & The Redheads, headline. It's going to be some serious rocking blues, so strap on that steel pot and put on those dancing shoes.

Ever wonder why you haven't seen The I-Rails lately? Some sneaky lowdown varmint busted into Chris O'Connor's pad in Hueneme and hogged his bass guitar. It's almost Christmas, so if you have an extra bass lying around just taking up valuable space. . . .

Ever wonder why you haven't seen Durango 95 lately? There are three basic reasons why rock bands don't perform: 1. Everybody hates them 2. They're having "creative differences" 3. They're looking for a bass player. Reason No. 3 is keeping Durango 95 off the stage until after the first of the year, according to front man and main brain Frank Barajas. These purveyors of pure power pop have been around so long they used to be somebody else, The Strangers.

New tapes/CDs/albums or whatever are on the way from The I-Rails, Something For Nothing and Michael On Fire.

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