Weir never had an ice cream named after him. He always played second banana to Jerry
Garcia, but he got a disproportionate share of the perks that come to a rock
band tour, if you get the drift. The dean of the jam band scene now gets his
overdue ovation in Mike Fleiss’s The
Other One: the Long, Strange Trip of Bob Weir, which screens during the 2014 Tribeca Film Festival.
was adopted at birth by a well-to-do San Francisco couple who were not very San
Francisco. He had the city in his blood anyway. An undiagnosed dyslexic, Weir
underperformed academically, but found his niche in music. A fast-friendship
with the somewhat older and more established Jerry Garcia led to the
establishment of what was initially a jug band. After a detour with the Merry
Pranksters, the Grateful Dead were on their way.
cooperative Weir revisits all the major sites of The Dead creation story, even
though most are now completely unrecognizable. He granted Fleiss extensive face
time, including valuable interview segments explaining his surprising musical
influences, such as the great jazz artist, McCoy Tyner. He also dispels any
suspicion of a rivalry with Garcia once and for all. In fact, we get a picture
of a genuinely touching friendship between the band members. Frankly, third
parties suggest Garcia rather regretted his exalted position with Deadheads,
whereas Weir was relieved to be spared their intense devotion.
is about as laidback as fans would expect, but he has some thoughtful insights
to offer viewers. However, Fleiss misses a conspicuous opportunity to push for
some consistency on the subject of drug use. Weir might have fond (if hazy)
memories of the drug-fueled early days, but Garcia’s sad drug-related end
clearly still distresses him.
As a gentle exercise in Grateful Dead
revisionism, Fleiss and his assembled talking heads argue Weir played a more
active role as a songwriter and an architect of the group’s overall sound than
many Garcia partisans realize. Without question, Fleiss and company are more
concerned about giving Weir his just due than inviting messy soul searching—and
so be it. Other One tells an
interesting story, at a healthy pace, but it is not completely blinkered from
reality. Recommended for all jam band listeners, The Other One screens again tomorrow (4/26) as part of this year’s
Tribeca Film Festival.
Labels: Bob Weir, Documentary, Grateful Dead, Tribeca '14