Bill Kreutzmann heads out on mini tour with BK Three before Dead Reunite

:: Bill Kreutzmann ::
 :: Bluebird Theater :: February 20 ::
 :: Fox Theatre :: February 21 ::

By DJ Hippie

If you are even remotely a fan of the Grateful Dead you would have to be obtuse or completely cut off from all modern forms of communication to be excused for not knowing that the surviving members, supplemented by Warren Haynes and Ratdog alumni Jeff Chimenti, are mounting a somewhat abbreviated spring tour as The Dead; the group’s first since 2004’s “Wave That Flag” jaunt.

But just as important in the short run, as folks scramble to secure their tickets to those shows, is the current project and mini-tour by drummer Bill Kreutzmann, Allman Brothers bassist Oteil Burbridge and Max Creek guitarist Scott Murawski. The group, that toured a bit last year and will be hitting a few select venues this February, has mistakenly been labeled by many Deadheads as a power trio.

While the core of the group is the three aforementioned musicians, as Kreutzmann recently told The Marquee, he envisions a band with endless possibilities and there is a reason why he is fondly referring to the group as BK Three. “I just wanted to get away from using the word trio because it makes things always seem a little jazzy to me and I thought BK Three was more clever, and sometimes we wouldn’t only be a trio. Sometimes we’ve been a quartet or a five,” said Kreutzmann. “There’s a good possibility of it morphing into a Rhythm Devils band with Mickey [Hart for the truly uninitiated] on percussion.”

It’s no surprise that the lineup of BK Three is not set in stone. The bigger mystery for Deadheads who are not as plugged-in to the scene as they once were, becomes: What exactly are these guys playing live? Is BK Three a stripped down Grateful Dead cover band, are they playing originals or is it just a free form jam session? More importantly is it something the average Deadhead can get into? “I don’t think there is such thing as an average Deadhead, is there?” Kreutzmann said with a laugh. “I know Deadheads will love this. They have already written plenty of reviews on myspace saying that they really like the band a lot,” said Kreutzmann. “We jam a lot. We don’t play all Grateful Dead tunes like other bands do. We actually only play about three or four, but the ones we do play we play the heck out of them and the chemistry between those two guys [Burbridge and Murawski] is…they split the [musical]lines up, they do it right on stage, it’s not practiced, it has a freedom like jazz but it’s not jazz.”

Another tantalizing aspect of BK Three is that Robert Hunter, in his usual behind the scenes capacity, has written songs especially for the band, providing another element of newness for a group of musicians that have been playing music longer than some fans have been alive. “I asked Robert Hunter if he would write some songs for BK Three and he sent me back twelve wonderful songs. we have worked on at least ten of them; we have a couple more to go but they are all Robert Hunter songs and that’s another reason I think the Deadheads are going to really like BK Three,” said Kreutzmann. “Having new Hunter tunes that really talk about the times right now, one is called “Murder Land” that is about the last administration, is really exciting.”

For now, these songs are only destined to exist in the realm of BK Three’s live shows, as Kreutzmann explained that he has no solid plans to release anything at the moment. However, the band is mulling over the idea of releasing a live show down the road. “We have one wonderful DVD that was made at a place called The Culture Room in Ft. Lauderdale that is releasable as is with very little mixing and very little editing,” said Kreutzmann. The possibility of other releases also looms, Kreutzmann mused. “We have so much recorded material now, because sometimes we play for five hours. What I’m trying to say is I’m sure we have releasable material, I just haven’t had time to go through it all!”
More exciting than the magical music that BK Three may make in the future

is simply the fact that Kreutzmann is really enjoying playing music again. When Jerry Garcia passed in 1995 many felt that Kreutzmann was glad that the “long, strange trip” was over. “I think that’s a fair assumption,” said Kreutzmann. “When Jerry died it was time for me to take a break and heal … but in the last year I’ve really gotten the bug again and I just can’t play enough, it’s been a 180 degree turnaround for me.”

:: Bill Kreutzmann ::
:: Bluebird Theater :: February 20 ::
:: Fox Theatre :: February 21 ::

Recommended if you Like:
• The Grateful Dead
• Allman Brothers
• Max Creek

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1 Comment

  1. Great article, nice background stuff, definitely after reading this I am looking forward to seeing BK# this year too. Saw them play a few times last year and really admired the chemistry between guitarist Scott Murawski and Billy K.
    The way Billy is playing he sure looks like he’s having fun, that graceful pulse and all the spinning cymbals, grinning ear to ear. I don’t dance as hard or as long as I used to at shows, but this band really plays very danceable stuff. Worth adding that Oteil can really sing…