Grateful Dead-Spawned Festival Plotting Return

Furthur Festival likely to return in 2000, after a year off, but without Phil Lesh.

After taking 1999 off, the Grateful Dead-spawned Furthur Festival is planning a comeback in 2000, according to the defunct psychedelic rock band's spokesperson.

Former Dead percussionist Mickey Hart and ex-Dead guitarist Bob Weir are committed to doing another Furthur Festival, Dennis McNally said Wednesday. "I think it will happen in one form or another."

McNally said it was unlikely that former Dead bassist Phil Lesh would join the festival's fourth outing.

The tour, which was headlined by the Other Ones — featuring several former members of the Grateful Dead — in 1998, missed 1999 after Lesh underwent liver transplant surgery in December 1998.

Lesh has since returned to the stage, but he is the odd man out in an dispute with the other board members of Grateful Dead Productions (including former bandmates Hart, Weir and drummer Bill Kreutzmann) over how and whether to publish the group's vast collection of live material online, according to statements by McNally and the bassist.

McNally said he expected the 2000 version of Furthur would feature Weir's band Ratdog, Hart's world-music ensemble Planet Drum and other "obvious candidates."

What it probably won't feature, McNally said, is the Other Ones, whose lineup in 1998 included Weir, Lesh, Hart and late-period Dead pianist Bruce Hornsby.

"It's not likely at the present time that Phil will participate," McNally said, effectively scuttling any Other Ones performance.

Buoyed by Dead fans' hopes that the Other Ones would recapture some of the Dead's live magic, the 1998 Furthur Festival was the most successful, grossing nearly $500,000 per city, with attendance exceeding 18,000 fans per stop, according to tour-industry trade magazine Pollstar.

The Dead disbanded following co-founder Jerry Garcia's death in 1995.

A five-CD box set of Grateful Dead material was released in November. So Many Roads: 1965–1995 features material from throughout the group's storied career, including rare studio outtakes and live tracks that cover the psychedelic rock band's 30-year career, from folk-rock garage band to legendary concert draw. It includes six live and rehearsal tracks from a studio album left unfinished following Garcia's death, including "Way to Go Home," (RealAudio excerpt) "Liberty" and the title track (RealAudio excerpt).

Weir and Hart will join forces on New Year's Eve for a show at the Warfield theater in San Francisco. The sold-out concert is slated to feature appearances from Ratdog, Planet Drum and blues-rockers Hot Tuna, who are longtime Dead pals.