Neal Casal on Playing Garcia’s Wolf
Were there certain moments in the show where you felt lift-off, so to speak, with it?
Absolutely! And I’m not exaggerating this shit just because it was Garcia’s guitar. I’ve played a lot of people’s guitars and again, once the novelty wears off, you take your picture with it and say thanks but this guitar really spoke to me and all of us! Everyone can hear it! [Keyboardist] Adam [Macdougall] was standing right next to me, just looking over at me like, “Jesus man! What is happening here?”
The guitar sustains really, really well. Where I struggle in some areas with other guitars that I own, this guitar was just sailing through those areas with no problem at all. One of the most surprising things about the guitar was how well it accepts slide playing. That was actually one of the strongest areas for me. “Rosalee” came so naturally and was so much easier than it normally is for me. We did our cover of “Never Been the Same.” Again, the slide playing on the guitar was surprising because of the sustain. And also the prettier melodic things we do- “100 Days of Rain,” things like that. We cruised through these normally difficult sections so joyfully.
I didn’t want to give it back because I completely bonded with that instrument. I’ll say it for the last time: it was not because it was Garcia’s. I’m not a bullshitter when it comes to instruments. I’ve played a lot of them. I know what I like and I know what I don’t. It doesn’t matter who it belonged to. If I don’t dig it, I give it back. That guitar spoke to me in a massive way.
As has been the case in the past when Wolf appeared onstage in someone’s hands besides Garcia’s, fans’ reactions have been both positive and negative. What’s your take?
I heard that under Jay Blakesberg’s photos there were some hater comments like, “Get your hands off that guitar. You don’t have a right to play this guitar.” It’s important to me to say to the haters that we didn’t ask for this guitar. It was offered to us and if any of those haters are guitar players, I would ask them: if this guitar was offered to you, what would you say? Would you say, “Oh, I’m not worthy” and not dare touch it or would your curiosity and your love for the instrument inspire you to want to pick it up?
We took the opportunity to have that guitar as a learning experience, as a opportunity for us to give a little bit back to it, and also to give it a little spin around the track and see what it’s made of and see if we could get some insight into Garcia’s genius. Into the workings of the Grateful Dead. Into the workings of the minds of the extremely intelligent people who surrounded that band and everything they were all about. We poured over that guitar, looking at it, listening to it. We had discussions about it and it was such a valuable thing for all of us because it inspired us to look a little bit further into what we’re looking for in our instruments. We learned so quickly what an uncompromising artist Garcia was and what an uncompromising band the Dead was and that they attracted people to build instruments for them that had the same really high standards.
So the haters should know that. The people who have a knee-jerk reaction to say, “Oh you don’t have the right to touch that.” You’re full of shit man! If someone offered you that guitar, you’d say yes and you’d do your best with it as well. People should be real careful before they condemn that quickly. It’s like, “Hey man! We know we’re not Garcia. We know we’re not the Dead. We’re not trying to be! We got lucky. It came into our sphere and we used it as a tremendous learning experience.”
The Chapin Sisters share an tune from their new album A Date With the Everly Brothers.
Minneapolis-based Night Moves share a song from their record, Colored Emotions, live at Relix.
Cloud Cult share a song from their latest album live at Relix.
The Giving Tree Band enjoy a spring day on the Relix rooftop, while performing a classic Grateful Dead tune.
Canadian singer-songwriter Hayden performs a duet with his sister-in-law Lou Canon. The song appears on Us Alone his first record on Broken Social Scene’s Arts & Crafts Productions.
The Milk Carton Kids share the first song from their new album, The Ash & Clay.
Here is the new video from Serbian guitar ace Ana Popovic. “Object Of Obsession” appears on her latest album Can You Stand The Heat.
Ron Sexsmith visits the Relix office to perform a tune from his latest record Forever Endeavor.
Crystal Bowersox stops by Relix to perform a song from her new album, All That For This.
Wake Owl stop by Relix to share the title track from their debut EP.
- Relix Live Fridays: Lotus 2013
- Warren Haynes and Joe Bonamassa "If Heartaches Were Nickels"
- The Chapin Sisters "Crying in the Rain"
- The Salvation of Page McConnell (Relix Revisited)
- Phil & Friends at Terrapin Crossroads (A Gallery)
- Kung Fu at The Bowl (A Gallery)
- Dawes "From a Window Seat" and "Most People" on Jimmy Kimmel Live
- The New Orleans Suspects
- Interlocken Festival to Feature Neil Young, Furthur, String Cheese Incident, Black Crowes, Zac Brown and More
- Beyond Cornell: David Lemieux on the Grateful Dead Archives and May 1977
- Jimi Hendrix, Miles Davis Tried to Form Supergroup with Paul McCartney
- Weir’s Here: On TRI, RatDog and Solo Gigs
- The Salvation of Page McConnell (Relix Revisited)
- The Final Ingredient in Dogfish Head’s Grateful Dead Tribute Ale Is…
- Stone Gossard Readies His Moonlander
- Allie Kral Says Goodbye to Cornmeal
- Doctor’s Orders: So what should we call the Super Ball IX Newspaper?
- John Kadlecik Posts Statement on Bob Weir’s Collapse
- "I Wanne Be In moe.": The Latest Volunteers
- Bob Weir Escorted Off Stage During Furthur Show
- Furthur Cancels BottleRock Show as Bob Weir Is Out Of Commision
- Vote for Your Favorite "I Wanne Be In moe." Contestant
- Doctor’s Orders: What’s Your Favorite Furthur Song? (Win Copy of Relix Signed by Phil and Bobby)
- On The Verge Poll