‘Just Bobby’ by Photography by Bob Minkin | Review

Article Contributed by Alan Sheckter | Published on Monday, June 6, 2022

With a love for the Grateful Dead and impressive body of photography work that has continued for almost 50 years, Bob Minkin’s new coffee-table book, “Just Bobby,” is a definitive comprehensive compendium of Bob Weir imagery. A follow-up to Minkin’s popular, “Just Jerry,” a photographic profile of the Grateful Dead’s Jerry Garcia, “Just Bobby” gives lavishly illustrated props specifically to Weir, who was not only co-lead of the Grateful Dead for 30 years, but has been plying his craft in various musical ways since that band came to an end in 1995. “The thing about Bob <Weir> is that he doesn’t sit still; he’s always moving forward and full of surprises,” Minkin said.

Grateful Dead, November 1978, Passaic N.J., and January 1979, New York City

This just-under 200-page 9-by-13-inch hardcover comes at the viewer with the same dazzling spot-gloss varnish atop thick stock as Minkin’s predecessors, “Live Dead,” “The Music Never Stopped: Marin County’s Music Scene,” and the aforementioned “Just Jerry.”

Mickey Hart & Bob Weir | photo by Bob Minkin

The book includes an introduction by Pete Sears, forward by Mickey Hart, “musings” by Dennis McNally, and essay by John “Stewball” Stewart. “Looking at these images is so fun for me,” wrote Mickey Hart in the book’s forward. “Minkin’s lens makes watching us grow over the years easy and crystal clear for me. I love the shots of us playing our tunes, it’s like a time capsule.”

Bobby - and Bob Minkin, Sept. 8, 2018 at Sound Summit, Mt. Tamalpais, Marin County, Calif. - photo by Alan Sheckter

The photographer, whose first concert was Eric Clapton in 1974, and who snapped his first concert photos at a Weir-led Kingfish show in December 1975 at the Capitol Theatre in Passaic, N.J., is a graduate of the New York School of Visual Arts who moved from his native Brooklyn, N.Y., to Marin County, Calif., in 1990. Minkin’s life-long love of the music, photography acumen, and access that led to friendships with, and personal trust from, Weir and others in the music community sparked the comfortable intimacy that shows in the images.

Weir and Grateful Dead lyricist John Barlow, October 2008, Sausalito, Calif.

“Just Bobby” is chock full of archetypal, tack-sharp images of Weir performing with the Grateful Dead, The Dead, and Dead and Company, as well representative images from Weir-led bands over the years including Bobby & the Midnites, RatDog, and Weir & Wolf Bros. There are even a few posed shots of Weir at home.

Weir at Sound Summit, near Mill Valley, Calif., September 2017

There are also commentary contributions from Jeff Chimenti (sideman to Weir for 25 years – and counting – in RatDog, The Other Ones, Furthur, and Dead & Company), Barry Sless (David Nelson Band, Moonalice, Bobby Weir & Wolf Bros), Jeff Matson (Dark Star Orchestra, Donna Jean Godchaux Band, Zen Tricksters), Alex Jordan (Cubensis, Midnight North, Bay Area guitarist/keyboardist at-large), Mark Karan (RatDog, The Other Ones, The Rock Collection), Nate LaPointe (Cubensis, Bobby Womack), and guitar maker Rich Hoeg.

Bob Minkin “on the job” at the Petaluma Music Festival, Petaluma, Calif., August 2016 - photo by Alan Sheckter

But the book’s most meritorious component is the “fly on the wall” aspect the reader gets to experience on page after page of insiders-only events and intimate backstage moments with many stars.

Sharing a special moment with Bill Walton, Mill Valley, Calif., August 2019

Special event photos include the Great Sixties Ball (May 1986 in New York City) with Jessie Jackson, Abby Hoffman, Country Joe McDonald, and Buffy Sainte-Marie; Weir and friends at the Gibson Guitars Centennial event (November 1994 in San Francisco) with Gregg Allman, Wavy Gravy, and members of Hot Tuna; the Spencer Dryden Benefit (May 2004 in San Francisco) with Warren Haynes, David Nelson, and Barry Sless; Chet Fest: A Tribute to Chet Helms (July 2005 in San Francisco) with Wavy Gravy, Mark Karan, Roger McNamee, Mickey Hart, David Nelson, and Robin Sylvester; Deadheads for Obama press conference (February 2008 in San Francisco) with Phil Lesh; a Benefit for Slide Ranch (October 2008, Sausalito, Calif.) with John Barlow; and “The Big Mix” (November 2012 in Mill Valley, Calif.) with Ray Manzarek and Michael McClure.

Grateful Dead, July 1994, Mountain View, Calif., and Gibson Guitars Centennial, November 1994, San Francisco

More of the book’s peeks behind the curtain include San Francisco Giants’ Grateful Dead Nights in August 2011, 2012, 2013, with Mickey Hart, Trixie Garcia, Bill Walton, and Tim Flannery; Music Heals International benefits (2013, 2015, 2021 in Mill Valley, Calif.) with Lukas Nelson and many others; sessions at Weir’s Tamalpais Research Institute (TRI) Studio in San Rafael, Calif., with a) The National, March 2012, b) Steve Kimock, January 2012, c)  “Move Me Brightly: Celebrating Jerry Garcia’s 70th Birthday,” in August 2012 with Lesh, Mike Gordon, Donna Jean Godchaux, Neal Casal, Joe Russo, and Jim Lauderdale; and d) “Weir Here.”

Grateful Dead Night at the San Francisco Giants, 2011 and 2013

Long-time Grateful Dead publicist Dennis McNally on Weir, as featured in “Just Bobby”: “I was watching a Dead & Co. show from Red Rocks,” McNally scribed, “and Weir came out dressed in poncho, capri pants, socks and Birkenstocks. I think there was a cowboy hat in there somewhere. I got to thinking about a personality trait that has kept Weir on his own path (fashion and music and life in general) for all these years: I call it the ‘don’t give a fuck’ factor.”

Weir on the Campfire Tour in support of Weir’s “Blue Mountain” project, October 2016, San Rafael, Calif.

* Note/disclaimer: Writer Alan Sheckter and Bob Minkin have been friends since the two met at a Grateful Dead concert in 1977.

Minkin, Furthur Festival, May 1999, Angels Camp, Calif. - photo by Alan Sheckter

For more information on “Just Bobby” and other Minkin items, visit https://minkinphotographystore.com.