Ex–Grateful Dead Percussionist To Debut Ensemble

Mickey Hart Band, starting tour May 9 in Washington, D.C., will include former Dead keyboardist Vince Welnick.

Former Grateful Dead drummer Mickey Hart will tour with his new ensemble, the Mickey Hart Band, beginning with a May 9 show in Washington, D.C.

The new band will feature 1990s Dead singer/keyboardist Vince Welnick.

While Hart's most recent project, Planet Drum was chiefly rhythm-based, the new group will lean toward rock, with Afro-Cuban and worldbeat influences. The band's repertoire will include Dead staples such as "Fire on the Mountain," "Iko Iko" and "Friend of the Devil," along with Hart-penned tunes such as "Down the Road" and "Baba Jingo." Enhancing the unit's sound, Hart will play his Random Access Musical Universe.

"It's an electronic instrument with a physical setup," Grateful Dead spokesperson/historian Dennis McNally said of the RAMU. "It's got drum pads, which are connected to virtually all sounds. You can sample anything, and when you hit the pad, anything can come up — breaking glass, tornadoes, guitars, you name it."

Hart was one half of the Grateful Dead's two-drummer rhythm section throughout most of their 30-year career. He shared percussion duties with drummer Bill Kreutzmann. An esteemed collector of rhythms, Hart also works with the Smithsonian Institution and the Library of Congress and is a trustee of the American Folklife Center. Hart's 1999 book, "Spirit Into Sound," features quotes about music from prominent musicians, spiritual and political leaders and others.

After the Dead disbanded following guitarist Jerry Garcia's death in 1995, Hart formed Planet Drum and also toured with Dead bandmates Bob Weir, Phil Lesh and Bruce Hornsby, as the Other Ones.

An alumnus of San Francisco Bay Area rock band the Tubes and of Todd Rundgren's band, Welnick sang and played keyboards with the Dead from 1990–1995.

The Mickey Hart Band also will include Cuban-born singer/percussionist Gladys "Bobi" Cespedes, renowned salsa bassist Rahsaan Fredericks (Midnight Voices, Omar Sosa), singer/percussionist Humberto "Nengue" Hernandez (Mongo Santamaria), L.A. session drummer Rick Schlosser (Van Morrison, Rod Stewart, Dolly Parton) and Bay Area guitarist Barney Doyle (Merl Saunders, Darol Anger).

Mickey Hart Band tour dates:

May 9; Washington, D.C.; 9:30 Club

May 11; New York, N.Y.; Irving Plaza

May 12; Hampton Beach, N.H.; Hampton Beach Casino

May 13; Northampton, Mass.; Calvin Theater

May 14; Philadelphia, PA.; Electric Factory

May 16; Englewood, N.J.; John Harms Center for the Arts Concerts East

May 18; Ann Arbor, Mich.; Michigan Theater

May 19; Bloomington, Ind.; Mars

May 20; Chicago, Ill.; House of Blues

May 21; Minneapolis, Minn.; Cabooze on West Bank

May 23; Milwaukee, Wis.; The Rave at Eagles Auditorium

May 25; Indianapolis, Ind.; Vogue Theater

May 28; Cincinnati, Ohio; Electra

June 16; Marysville, Calif.; Sierra Nevada World Music Fest, Riverfront Park Amphitheater

June 18; Jacksonville, Ore.; Britt Festival Fairgrounds

June 29; San Diego, Calif.; Humphrey's Concerts by the Bay

July 1; Anaheim, Calif.; Sun Theater

July 8; Denver, Colo.; Lo Do Festival

July 29; Seattle, Wash.; WOMAD U.S.A., Marymoore Park