I ran some Ratdog on Stormy Mondays not too long ago, back when Bobby’s postponed solo tour was supposed to take place, but that was before anyone knew Ratdog itself would make an appearance. On Wednesday of this week, an enhanced version of The Dog will play at Bobby’s TRI Studios, that golden room with its unparalleled sonics and web casting capabilities. The band will feature both Rob Wasserman and Robin Sylvester on bass (both played the inaugural TRI Bob Weir and Friends gig) and both Mark Karan and Steve Kimock on guitar. A lot of people who didn’t really like Ratdog will praise the ’07 shows where Kimock subbed in for an ailing Karan, but the fact is most of those shows weren’t so great.
Part of Ratdog’s strong suit was the ability to respond with pure quickness and turn on a dime, especially on Bobby’s drop segues, and that seemed to slip away during the Kimock gigs. He seemed unfamiliar with the transitions and with some of the covers and Ratdog originals. Also, Karan’s playing was perfect for the band and the band’s sound was built around him as he slipped and slid all over the material, lacing songs with bright leads and satisfying fills. That’s just not Kimock’s style. Not to say there weren’t brilliant moments at most shows and a few truly excellent gigs (Albany is the absolute highlight), but there wasn’t enough room for Steve to really work his long form magic. Ratdog with Kimock wasn’t quite Ratdog, nor was it quite Kimock, which was especially apparent because just before Karan’s cancer diagnosis, he was on fire.
I remember hearing people shouting “Mark!” the way they shout “Warren!” or even shouted “Jerry!” once upon a time. With that in mind, this week we’re going to the North West shows of 07 for a closing suite of Stuff (the improv/groove segment of the second set) > a short Milestones > a blazing Dear Prudence > Two Djinn, probably Ratdog’s best tune. It’s a high energy set with lots of amazing Mark Karan, not to mention the playing from the rest of the band. As always, enjoy!