Slightly Stoopid have played a lot of different venues since forming in San Diego in the mid-1990s. Given their near constant touring schedule, you’d probably have a harder time finding places that haven’t hosted the laid back reggae-rockers, who have also been a staple of the festival scene for years. Yet the band had never performed in a setting quite like TRI Studios, a state-of-the-art recording studio and “virtual venue” in San Rafael, CA owned by none other than Bob Weir.
On September 13, 2011 Slightly Stoopid gathered some friends for TRI’s second-ever pay-per-view concert, which featured guest appearances by Karl Denson, Dumpstaphunk’s Ian & Ivan Neville, reggae icon Don Carlos and, of course, Bob Weir. The event was also hosted, in appropriately Slightly Stoopid fashion, by celebrated comedian and marijuana enthusiast Tommy Chong. Over the course of two sets and 31 songs, Stoopid and co. dug deep into their catalog as they burned through hits like “Closer to the Sun,” “Ain’t Got A Lot of Money” and “Ocean,” as well as covers of choice tunes like “I Know You Rider” and “Cissy Strut.” While the fantastic performance was webcast live at the time, it was also recorded in crisp high definition for a future release. Now, over 18 months and a few cable broadcasts later, Slightly Stoopid and Friends: Live at Roberto’s TRI Studios is finally available on DVD, CD and digital formats. We recently spoke with one of the band’s frontmen, Miles Doughty, about the TRI experience, the band’s 4/20 show at Red Rocks, the influence of the Grateful Dead and more.
Let’s talk about your recent 4/20 show at Red Rocks. How was that?
Honestly, the 4:20 show was like heaven on earth for us as far as being in the vibe of Colorado and what you get from Red Rocks itself. You know, it was cold weather and a little bit rainy and there was snow on the ground outside the compound. But we had Cypress Hill, Tribal Seeds, Slightly Stoopid and the whole marijuana legalization movement. It really couldn’t have been better and you couldn’t have asked for a better crowd to play in front of too. The Colorado fans are ridiculous, it doesn’t matter what the weather’s like, there’s ten thousand people there going nuts. So it was pretty epic.
Could you sense a different vibe there now that the marijuana laws have changed?
The vibe still the same, it’s just now it’s more legal. I think as far as the marijuana movement, people that smoke it and use it, it’s been a culture for so long that the fact that it’s legalized just means you don’t have to worry about the law enforcement, but I don’t really think it changed the vibe. People in Colorado have always been really cool, and that’s always been a thing. For me it was more like, finally. [Laughs]
How did this TRI performance with Bob Weir come about?
Our manager got in touch with Bob Weir’s people about going up there and was able to set up the jam session. Honestly it all came together, even with Ian and Ivan Neville, Don Carlos, Karl Denson, so it was pretty much like twelve-piece arsenal going to work up there. It was really cool, just the whole experience, getting to play with Bob and we’ve worked with the Nevilles before and the other guys. But being a fan of what The Dead have done over their careers and whatnot, it was a trip. Being in the dressing room with Bob singing harmonies with him. I was just sitting there with my guitar thinking, “Holy shit I’m sitting here with Bob Weir jamming out ‘I Know You Rider’.’’ So it was pretty amazing, just a surreal moment, going “Wow.” And what was awesome about it was just the whole vibe it had. The microphones are all in the ceiling and the walls and everything, so it has a real ambient sound that’s pretty amazing. I’ve never seen anything like it as far as a recording room goes, and they let you kind of set it up with your vibe and I was really happy with the finished project. It was cool because we just left the jam open. We had a list of songs we wanted to play but we didn’t really sit there and do a big rehearsal together and go over it. We kind of just went for it and what you see is what you get, so it was pretty cool.
Has Slightly Stoopid been influenced by The Dead in any way?
I think that the biggest thing that we took from them was just the power of touring. It’s really what no band had done before, the level they took touring to. They were a band that wasn’t known commercially for their music or their CDs and whatnot, they were a touring entity that just brushed across the country. Deadheads would just travel forever and, I’m not comparing us to the Grateful Dead, but our fanbase, we like to call them Stoopid Heads, and they do the same kind of thing. They travel everywhere and watch the shows and you see the way the summer tours are and the way it always is, the fans are crazy. It’s kind of like it’s its own ship now, you just pull into port and it fills up with people. It’s pretty crazy and we’ve learned that that was kind of how we liked to model our touring life, just always being on the road and realizing the blessing you have to be able to play music and give that to your fans.
Have any elements of their musical style influenced you guys?
Well yeah. We like to improv, we like to jam with a lot of different artists and have fun. Every time we go on tour we’ll bring the other bands up with us and play. And I think the biggest thing is interaction with our fans. That’s something that Slightly Stoopid has always done. You know, we like to play music. We’re there to play music with the fans and we like to get them involved in the shows whether they’re singing along or calling out songs or just situations like that and I think that’s important. I think the Dead really appreciated that and they would jam forever. Their jam instrumentals were ten times the length ours are, but we definitely like to have the freestyle and the crowd participation.
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