John Mayer doesn’t need extracurricular activities. The charismatic guitar hero has been busy ever since he earned notice while showcasing at South By Southwest in 2001.
Shortly after playing the festival 16 years ago, Mayer signed a deal with Sony and has released seven solo studio albums, including his latest, “The Search for Everything,” which dropped in April.
But Mayer, 39, couldn’t support the album with a tour because he’s been performing with the Dead & Company, made up of former Grateful Dead band members.
During a show at Camden’s BB&T Pavilion two months ago, Mayer went on a number of entertaining extemporaneous jams with Dead icon Bob Weir.
“John gets it,” Weir says. “It was a no-brainer for me to hook up with him and chase this muse.”
The feeling is mutual; Mayer is just as into the experience with Dead & Company.
“We’re you’re into music the way Bob and I are, it’s almost like collecting baseball cards,” Mayer says. “You collect the Texas blues card. You collect the Chicago electric blues card. You collect the country-western card.”
And when there is a moment to take a break, you collect soulful R&B and groove-laden funk, which is what Mayer did while making “The Search for Everything.” He will perform Wednesday, Aug. 16, at the Coastal Credit Union Music Park at Walnut Creek.
“I love playing and making music,” Mayer said. “I have no problem finding the energy to play with the Dead & Company and to make solo albums. I’m so passionate about music. If all I ever do is write, record and tour, I would be happy.”
“The Search for Everything” is eclectic, gritty and reflective. Mayer alternates between soul-baring ballads and R&B rave-ups. It’s not surprising since Mayer has always had range and possesses the willingness to take chances.
He’s at his best when crafting love songs. “Still Feel Like Your Man” is upbeat sonically, but the lyrics are filled with heartache.
“I look at those I admire and they took risks,” Mayer said. “It makes no sense to make the same album over and over or do the same thing every year. My favorite guitarists never did that.”
Mayer not only has scored praise from his heroes, he’s performed with them. The late B.B. King, Eric Clapton and Buddy Guy have showered Mayer with accolades and jammed with the Connecticut native.
“John is an amazing guitarist,” Guy says. “I love to hear him play. He doesn’t go for the charts. He plays what’s in his heart.”
Mayer opts not to pander. He morphs with every album.
“I’m just trying to make the best music that I can,” Mayer says. “I’m not trying to make hits. If a hit happens, that’s great. I hope to make music that stands the test of time.”
That sounds like a description of the Dead. No wonder Mayer hooked up with the like-minded adventurous legendary act.
“(Playing with Dead & Company) is like no other experience,” Mayer says. “I love it. I will never close the door on Dead & Company. I think it’s always going to be worth doing.”
And the same can be said for his solo career.
“I’ve always been about balance,” Mayer says. “I do everything I can to keep things together.”
Who: John Mayer with The Night Game
When: 7 p.m. Aug. 16
Where: Coastal Credit Union Music Park at Walnut Creek, 3801 Rock Quarry Road, Raleigh.
Tickets: $24.75, $45, $64 and $125.
Info: 919-831-6100 or walnutcreekamphitheatre.com/.