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Band Profile: Golden Gate Wingmen (Touring 2/22 – 2/25)

With the Golden Gate Wingmen‘s four-night run kicking off next Wednesday at the Baltimore Soundstage, there’s no better time than now to familiarize yourself with this celebrated supergroup. Founded by Furthur’s John K in November of 2014, Golden Gate Wingmen is comprised of Dead family musicians John K (Furthur, Phil Lesh & Friends), Jay Lane (Ratdog, Primus), Jeff Chimenti (Fare Thee Well, Dead & Co), and Reed Mathis (Tea Leef Green, Billy & The Kids). When Furthur disbanded in 2014, John K and the Golden Gate Wingmen saw an opportunity to fill a vacuum of Dead family music and live performances. When John K invited Mathis, Lane and Chimenti to sit in with him on the first night of his then solo electro-coustic tour at Terrapin Crossroads on November 5th, 2014, the effortless chemistry and overjoyed reaction of their first audience made the group realize they had something special going, and in turn created the band.

The Golden Gate Wingmen seamlessly blends Americana music with psychedelic rock, blues, funk, jazz, and everything else in between. At their live sets, you can expect to hear a combination of Dylan covers, original songs, and of course, the music of the Grateful Dead. After a sell out tour in the summer of 2016, the Golden Gate Wingmen have finally found some time to reunite and embark on a mini tour at the end of the month. The four night run kicks off at the Baltimore Soundstage, then travels north to Irving Plaza in New York City, then a sold out show at the Ardmore Music Hall in PA, and comes to an end at the Sherman Theatre in Stroudsburg, PA. To finish off our profile, I’ve included an interview John K did with in early 2015 after the Golden Gate Wingmen was first formed, as well as a few HD recorded sets. Ticket and event information for each stop on the tour can be found below.

Golden Gate Wingmen 2017 February Tour

February 22nd, Baltimore Soundstage, Baltimore, MD: tickets | Facebook event

February 23rd, Irving Plaza, New York, NY: tickets | Facebook event

February 24th, Ardmore Music Hall, Ardmore, PA: SOLD OUT | Facebook

February 25th, Sherman Theatre, Stroudsburg, PA: tickets Interviews John K: original article

So tell me about Golden Gate Wingmen. Our audience is aware of your associations with Jay, Jeff and Reed so it’s not exactly a surprising lineup. But how did this band come together?

John Kadlecik: Well, let’s see. I was looking to do a little solo tour as an experiment back in November, and the first one was going to be at Terrapin Crossroads. They put me in the Grate Room and then it was, well, I need to get a band together. It turned out that Jeff, Jay and Reed were all available and they were more or less the first people I thought to ask. So we got together.

I came up with the name and everyone liked it. I didn’t know if it would be anything more than one show, but it was encouraging that other people were into it. We got an offer to do a couple of shows over New Year’s in Colorado, and it happened the guys were available then too. So then we thought, let’s do a California run.

From the setlists so far it seems like you’ve focused on your material as well as the expected stuff from the Dead and Jerry catalogs so that’s exciting to hear. Do you think you’ll write new original music with this band, too?

Hopefully, yeah, as much as Jeff, Jay and Reed are interested. As for me, I’ve really been champing at the bit to get a project going with multiple writers. At first it made sense for me to do some sort of Jerry Garcia or Dead related thing with the various people in that scene, and then I wrote a bunch of fresh stuff last year that felt right. As soon as it looked like this had legs, we also got Reed singing some lead vocals. I’m kind of hoping we can keep expanding this.

You’ve played with Jeff and Jay in Furthur and other contexts. How long have you known Reed?

Actually a long time. It was really rare for Dark Star Orchestra to take on an opening act let alone one that went on the road with us, but Jacob Fred Jazz Odyssey did that with us over the whole leg of a tour. I want to say that was 2000, 2001 or so. They were this bunch of young kids from Tulsa, it was very fun. We did one particularly memorable mashup with them joining the whole band for a drums and space segment at All Good that year.

I remember the last time we chatted, about a year ago, you had just come out of that prolific writing period. It sounds like you’re starting to find homes for these new songs.

Yeah, we’ll see. Some of those songs aren’t all that appropriate for this project, some are. Some will remain studio songs, some are songs I might give to other people. I’m open to collaborative writing too, and I’ve been working with a particular writer.

Indi Riverflow, if I recall?

Yes, that’s right. But yeah, I had this huge burst this time last year. Again, it’s been a matter of making space for it and figuring out what gets my attention.

And you’ve also kept room to play with Phil Lesh & Friends. Do you anticipate continuing to do that?

It seems likely. I can’t speak for Phil, but he’s always nice to me.