By Rick Coates
The Hoxeyville Music Festival continues to grow in stature within the music community. Stepping beyond the confines of a local band festival, they added some national headliners last year. The result was so successful that they have kicked it up a notch this year with The Rhythm Devils.
Any Deadhead knows that The Rhythm Devils are Mickey Hart and Bill Kreutzmann, the drumming duo of The Grateful Dead. The group evolved out of those improvisational drumming and percussion sets that took place at most Dead concerts. After the death of Jerry Garcia in 1995, The Dead disbanded and its members became involved in several musical projects and bands.
The Rhythm Devils will headline this weekends Hoxeyville Music Festival along with Keller Williams. While Williams is now on his own tour, he was a part of The Rhythm Devils earlier in the summer and will certainly join them on stage.
Kreutzmann and Hart took some time out while on a brief break from touring to answer a few questions by phone:
Northern Express: Everyone knows that you guys were known as The Rhythm Devils, but how did you get the name?
Mickey Hart: Jerry (Garcia) gave it to us. one night at a show he looked over at Bill and me and said, you guys are the Rhythm Devils, and it just took.
NE: How do you make it having two drummers in The Dead?
Bill Kreutzmann: We have differing personalities that really complement each other and we would rehearse for two or three hours before the rest of the guys would show up. We felt having two drummers sounded redundant, so we worked out a system of who was going to play what and instead of duplication, we wanted to expand the sound.
NE: Okay, you guys also have been touring on and off as The Dead for the past few years with original members Bob Weir and Phil Lesh along with Jeff Chimenti and Warren Haynes. Now everyone is off on other projects. Is there a plan for The Dead to get back together and tour in the future?
Kreutzmann: Well those other guys are out in the band Further. So we will see. I guess it is a mystery right now. To be honest, I am really into making new music right now and I needed a break. I have some other projects, as does Mickey, and right now our focus is on The Rhythm Devils.
NE: Fair enough. Describe the concept behind The Rhythm Devils.
Hart: It is quite different in a sense. I like to describe it this way: Its like a super friendly rhythm snake that has wrapped itself around the world a few times and now its coming our way. Its electric; its got rhythm, has words and flies. Certainly, Robert Hunter who we have known for years, is the driving force behind this music, he has written his heart on these songs.
Kreutzmann: Yes, the music is percussion-driven and Robert Hunter, who collaborated with Jerry on a lot of the Grateful Dead songs, wrote these songs exclusively for us. We will also perform some of the familiar Grateful Dead songs in a different way. The music all is very danceable.
NE: You almost have to do some Dead tunes when you guys get together?
Hart: When we get together we get into a groove, and everyone around us gets drawn in. Our view is that anything we do together, including The Grateful Dead, is a work in progress. We will never leave behind our roots. it will also be part of who we are, but with the Rhythm Devils we have created an identity as well, and with that music we look to the future of who we will be.
NE: What are your projects after the tour ends?
Kreutzmann: I am looking to release a new album with my band, 7 Walkers.
Hart: I am working on the Rhythms of the Universe, a project that is quite involved. I am currently working with leading scientists to capture raw light waves from space and then transform those light waves into sound waves. Afterwards using those sounds to compose universal music. Basically I am exploring what the universe sounds like.
The Rhythm Devils will perform on the main-stage at Hoxeyville Music Festival Saturday night following Keller Williams. To listen to samples of their music search for videos on youtube. For more information go to www.rhythmdevils.net and to purchase tickets to the Hoxeyville Music Frestival check out www.hoxeyville.com