HAPPY HOWLS: Bob Weir performs with Dead & Co. at San Francisco’s Oracle Park in July. (Ellen Hoffman photo)
Residency at Peter Shapiro’s Capitol Theater latest to feature OG Dead member
No other promoter keeps the legacy of the Grateful Dead alive the way that Peter Shapiro does and this month’s Bobby Weir & Wolf Bros residency at his Capitol Theater in Westchester, New York, is just the latest example.
Bobby Weir & Wolf Bros, featuring the Wolfpack, are set to play the historic venue’s largest residency of 2023 on December 12, 13, 15, 16 and 17.
The final two shows are sold out and the others appear headed that way.
Shapiro said fans will be able to buy a special Capitol Theater/Wolf Bros shirt from among the merchandise offered during the Weir residency.
“We are doing something special,” he said. “It’s a Capitol Theater (design) with like a little touch of the Wolf Bros in it that we cleared with the band.”
The Capitol, a one-time movie and vaudeville palace built in 1926 and now operated by Shapiro, is celebrating 10 years under his ownership.
“The Capitol Theater’s really like the home of the Dead,” Shapiro said. “They played there 18 times in 1970 and 71.”
Shapiro was at a loss for how many times Weir has played the theater solo or with one of the bands he’s fronted.
“We’ve done Weir before various times, whether it was with Furthur or in different kinds of formats. The Capitol is known as the home of the music of the Dead. We’ve done 100 shows with (former Dead bassist) Phil Lesh over the years, and we’re excited to be doing this five-night run. We just had Bill Kreutzmann play (as Billy and the Kids) for two nights in October.”
Shapiro embraces his role as the keeper of the Dead flame and says he feels a sense of responsibility to the band’s legacy and works to blend new Dead-centered iterations like Grateful Shred, who recently headlined the venue. Dark Star Orchestra is playing the Cap on New Year’s Eve.
“We still do Melvin Seals and JGB,” he said. “We are pretty committed to this music. It just never fades.”
The blooming of bands connected or paying tribute to the Grateful Dead are many and quite a few make their way into venues under Shapiro’s aegis, such as the Brooklyn Bowl clubs in New York, Nashville and Las Vegas.
Garcia’s, named for late Dead guitarist Jerry Garcia, is a 250-capacity club attached to the Capitol, is another venue for the less prominent of these acts.
“That’s where we do Stella Blues and lots of other Dead cover bands, even on weeknights,” Shapiro said, adding that the club operates at least a couple of times a week, with bookings that include indie rock acts and upcoming jam bands.
The Capitol is in a sweet spot geographically, drawing from New York city, Long Island and the rest of the surrounding area.
“We get the whole Tri-state area,” he said of the New York-New Jersey-Connecticut region. “We also see people coming from every part of America. We know that from checking the zip reports.”
Keeping a nearly 100-year-old Thomas Lamb-designed theater in good form is a challenge in of itself, but it’s one Shapiro has embraced.
“We spent millions of dollars years ago to get it all renovated,” he said. “It’s one of the last of the great rock palaces. Bowie, (Pink) Floyd, Derek and the Dominos; but the real thing it’s known for is the Dead’s 18 shows in ‘70-’71. We have to always be spending, but we have a team that cares a lot about the place and resources we reinvest to make sure the lights, the sound, the air conditioning, the building and things are holding tight, but it’s an old building and that comes with its own set of realities, beauty challenges.
“It’s awesome and I think that’s why Bobby loves to play there. We’ve done the screen, the walls, the projection mapping. It’s like a mini-Sphere with the visuals. It makes it fun. When you’re up in the balcony, you’re really enveloped like in a planetarium vibe.”