Grateful Dead Live on in Roses Grove Band

Playing at the Stephen Talkhouse in Amagansett tomorrow at 8 p.m
Roses Grove Band, featuring, from left, Charles Gallanti, Jon (Hondo) Weissberg, Brian LeClerc, and Ben Chaleff, will perform music of the Grateful Dead tomorrow at the Stephen Talkhouse in Amagansett.

It has now been more than 20 years since Jerry Garcia, guitarist and cofounder of the Grateful Dead, died at age 53, effectively ending the band’s 30-year lifespan. In the ensuing years, however, the Dead’s influence has not only persisted, but directly inspired both countless other bands and an entire musical genre. The “jam band” phenomenon, characterized by extended improvisation and fusions of diverse musical categories often grouped under the Americana rubric, is now manifested on radio stations, streaming services, and charts, as well as massive, days-long concert festivals.  

Roses Grove Band is one such group that takes its inspiration from the Grateful Dead. The quartet, which has been together for a little more than a year, will play at the Stephen Talkhouse in Amagansett tomorrow at 8 p.m. Admission is $10. 

The band performs the Grateful Dead’s music, but like its inspiration, Roses Grove Band is branching out to include in its repertoire cover songs that the Dead performed as well as music by an accomplished jam band with its own fanatical following, Phish.    

“I love Americana; I love improvisational music,” said Jon (Hondo) Weissberg, Roses Grove’s drummer. The Grateful Dead, he said, “really combined those two things very well.” Such is Mr. Weissberg’s reverence for the Dead that he moved to the band’s hometown, San Francisco, with several musician friends after graduating from the State University of New York at Oneonta, staying for several years. For a time, he lived on Haight Street, once the epicenter of the 1960s counterculture as personified by the Dead, who lived in a communal house on nearby Ashbury Street from 1966 to ’68. 

By his estimation, Mr. Weissberg attended more than 50 Grateful Dead concerts, and while in San Francisco took in many more by the Jerry Garcia Band, one of the guitarist’s many side projects. 

Back on the South Fork, Mr. Weissberg played with other groups, “but never got to play the music I’d loved for so many years” until joining his current band, the name of which is a reference both to Roses Grove Road in North Sea, near his house, and the Dead’s iconic skull-and-roses logo. 

For Ben Chaleff, the band’s bassist, “I’m trying to make up for lost time by listening to their music.” Though he missed opportunities to see the Dead in its later years, he began to appreciate the music around the time of Garcia’s death, attracted in part by its musical influences, which matched his own. “I grew up listening to similar music, even though there is a big generational difference. It seemed a natural evolution,” said the musician. Those, he said, include blues, folk, and bluegrass, music of the late Bahamian guitarist Joseph Spence, and “good old fashioned rock ’n’ roll from Chuck Berry.” 

Mr. Chaleff, along with Brian LeClerc and Chuck Gallanti, the band’s guitarists, had played together off and on for several years, often meeting at open mike events such as a weekly jam overseen by Mr. Weissberg for several years at the Hotel Fish and Lounge in Hampton Bays. In their short time as Roses Grove Band, they have performed at venues including the Back Bar Grille in Hampton Bays, the North Sea Tavern and 230 Down in Southampton, the Westlake Fish House in Montauk, and the Quogue East Pub. 

“When we’re jamming, when we’re all on the same page, it’s a lot of fun,” said Mr. LeClerc, a veteran of many South Fork bands. “Everybody really enjoys what they’re doing, and it shows when we’re playing.”

“I’ve always been fortunate to play with amazing musicians, and he’s definitely one of them,” Mr. Weissberg said of Mr. LeClerc. “We do like to jam. I think that’s where we shine — stretching out songs, taking them places, putting our twist on them.” 

Fans of the Grateful Dead, or Deadheads, have responded to that twist. The band was a featured artist on the Dead Covers Project at the website on the strength of a recording featuring a medley of “West L.A. Fadeaway” and “Mr. Charlie.” A video of the performance has been viewed more than 1,100 times on YouTube. 

Just as no two Grateful Dead concerts were alike, tomorrow’s Roses Grove Band show may include debut performances. “We’re constantly changing,” said Mr. Chaleff. “That’s the great thing about the Grateful Dead songbook — there’s a million songs.”