NEW YORK -- The long, strange trip that is the Grateful Dead got a bit stranger
Saturday night. Hanson, the teen pop group behind "MMMBop," joined Dead
singer/guitarist Bob Weir onstage at the downtown club Wetlands.
Isaac, Taylor and Zac Hanson bounded onstage midway through Weir's second set with
bassist Rob Wasserman and drummer Jay Lane, joining them on several Grateful Dead
concert staples, including Bob Dylan's "All Along the Watchtower" and the blues
numbers "Going Down the Road" and "Wang Dang Doodle," according to Tara Doran,
merchandiser for the club.
For an encore, Weir, Wasserman, Lane, Hanson, Hanson and Hanson played Weir's
Night" (RealAudio excerpt), another Dead staple, Doran said.
The Hanson brothers sang harmonies on most of the songs, and keyboardist Taylor
Hanson played a keyboard solo. "People in the crowd were calling out, 'MMMBop,' "
The show was the last night of a sold-out three-night Weir-and-Wasserman stand
celebrating the 10th anniversary of Wetlands, a club with a long tradition of booking
Dead-inspired acts. (The show will be cybercast on SonicNet at 9 p.m. EST Thursday.)
It was Weir's first New York club booking in 25 years, meaning he
hadn't done a New York club show since long before any of the members of Hanson
"I talked to [drummer] Lane about playing with Hanson," Doran said. "And he said how it
was great Weir's music has no generation gap."
Wasserman, speaking backstage the night before, when Hanson's equipment already
had been set up, didn't seem to know much about the group's music. He knew one thing,
though. "They're fans, I guess, of the Dead," he said, with a smile.
Plenty of other Dead fans were in clear evidence both inside and outside the club on
Friday, when Weir and Wasserman were joined by slightly older guests -- former Allman
Brothers guitarist Warren Haynes and Hot Tuna's Michael Falzarano on mandolin.
Outside the club, a dreadlocked young man sold vegetarian burritos from a cardboard
box next to a New York hot-dog vendor, while a few people looking for a way inside
stood on the sidewalk requesting a ticket in the traditional Deadhead fashion, by holding
up a finger.
Inside, a largely middle-aged, male, tie-dye-wearing crowd cheered on Weir and
Wasserman. Some fans wrote down lists, and the smell of marijuana filled the venue.
"This is the ultimate setting," Dave Glueck, a 27-year old accountant who lives in
Westfield, N.J., said. "It was great seeing the Dead in Giants Stadium [in East Rutherford,
N.J.], surrounded by 70,000 people, but a small show like this -- this is what I've been
waiting for my whole life."
Weir was dressed casually in a sleeveless purple T-shirt and jeans for Friday's
two-and-a-half-hour show. He led Wasserman and Lane through Grateful Dead tunes
including "Sugar Magnolia" and such Weir solo tunes as "Looks Like Rain" -- another
regular from Dead setlists -- and "Festival."
The energy picked up with Haynes' arrival. He gave "West L.A. Fadeaway" a funky, rock
edge. Falzarano's mandolin playing was featured on a medley of the Bob Dylan songs
"Maggie's Farm" and "When I Paint My Masterpiece."
Wetlands, a combination club and environmental-activism center, has a long reputation
for booking Dead-inspired bands, and its month-long anniversary celebration will
spotlight Blues Traveler frontman John Popper, Parliament-Funkadelic's Bernie Worrell
and old-school hip-hoppers the Cold Crush Brothers in the coming weeks.
"The Wetlands was built on the spirit of the Grateful Dead," the club's owner, Peter
Shapiro, said. "Musically, culturally, spiritually, they've been such an influence on other
bands, like Blues Traveler and Phish."
Proceeds from the weekend's shows benefited the Federal Lands Action Group.
Weir, Wasserman and Lane play together in Ratdog, a band that plans to release an
album in the fall, according to Wasserman.