“Banyan Tree” is the most beguiling new song created by the initial lineup of The Other Ones - the first post-Garcia reunion band, which only performed in June-July 1998.
- Bob Weir - guitar, vocals
- Phil Lesh - bass, vocals
- Mickey Hart - percussion, RAMU, vocals
- Bruce Hornsby - piano, keyboards, vocals
- Dave Ellis - saxophone, vocals
- Mark Karan - guitar, vocals
- Steve Kimock - guitar
- John Molo - drums
Credited to Hart, Hunter, and Weir, “Banyan Tree” is a sleepy, tropical groove, with a brief Hunter text that Weir narrates-sings. If you enjoy the jazzy Phil Lesh Quintet from the same period (overlapping musicians), you'll enjoy "Banyan." As one would expect, this first post-Garcia outing, just three years after his death, also has strong ties to the Grateful Dead sound - refracted through Diga Rhythm Band and post-"Eternity" Weir vibes. Though this tune is nothing like anything from the 1983 Stone House Sessions, it feels like kin. It could be an "Apocalypse Now" river journey. It's a cool addition to the Dead-legacy canon, and in the next iteration of the band, Kreutzmann was playing it as a new member.
This mixtape knits together edits of three rehearsal takes from the beginning of June, 1998, ahead of the band’s first concerts. It’s a 40-minute, drifting ride, with monkeys.
On 6/2/98 at Club Front, the band stretches out in the groove for the first time, Hart turning on the beat out of a spacey passage and Weir eventually trying out his idea for the vocals. The next day (6/3), they work on bringing more shape to it and joining it to “Playin’ in the Band.”
Some of the band’s chatter while playing remains in these edits. Weir: “Take it from the top!” Lesh: “Take what from the top?!” Someone improvises some arch vocal commentary, beginning with, “NPR’s world of music… morning becomes eclectic…” Weir: “More monkeys!”
I have appended a live version from July, by which time the song had become structured and muscular. (This is the only live non-audience version circulating that isn’t the one on the official album, “The Strange Remain.”)
48-minute mp3 mix zipped up here
- Banyan Tree (6/2/98 - studio, Club Front)
- Banyan Tree > Playin’ Jam > Banyan Tree > Playin’ Jam (edit, 6/3/98 - studio, Club Front)
- Banyan Tree > Playin’ Demise (edit, 6/3/98 - studio, Club Front)
- Banyan Tree (7/25/98 - live, Shoreline)
The 6/2-3/1998 conversations on the Club Front Tapes offer a great, documentary perspective on Lesh, Weir, Hart, and Hornsby getting the band back together and working out songs. Check them out on Relisten or Archive.