Joe Russo’s Almost Dead: January 26, 2013 Brooklyn Bowl – Flac/MP3/Streaming

January 28, 2013

Almost Dead BK Bowl
[photo by nyctaper]

If you have any interest at all, even passing, in the music of the Grateful Dead, then what happened at Brooklyn Bowl on Saturday night was an important milestone in the post-Dead era. I do not exaggerate, this was a big deal. In the seventeen years since the death of Jerry Garcia and the dissolution of the Grateful Dead as an active band, there has been a steady and sometimes tiresome parade of bands attempting to “capture the magic”. In 2009, such a group even went as far as to tour as “The Dead”. One band plays complete setlists from historical Dead shows. Invariably those bands offer some connection to the band, often an original member or two, and some excellent musicianship — but there is always something lacking. Those bands can mimic the sound and usually feature a wiz guitarist with the ability to ape Garcia’s original sound. But the inherent problem is that it all seems so canned and knock-off-ish, lacking in originality and ultimately devoid of any magic at all. Sure, there are moments, or sets, or even complete shows that are rewarding in the short term. Phil Lesh and Friends has perhaps the best track record in terms of sustained performance quality. But as a whole the entire post-Dead era seems to be just a steady beat of disappointment.

On Saturday night, I saw the first post-Dead band that truly offered music that rivaled the original band at its peak. But what separated Joe Russo’s “Almost Dead” from the others was their approach to the music. This was not a mimic or an imitation, but a quintet of supremely talented musicians interpreting the music in their own unique manner. The two guitarists, Scott Metzger and Tom Hamilton, have carved out excellent careers on their own merit. And thankfully neither sounded really anything like Garcia. Marco Benevento used his many talents on an assortment of keyboards to play in his own style, not like Godchaux or Constanten or Mydland. Dave Dreiwitz played an Alembic bass, but his style is nothing like Phil Lesh. And Russo, sure he plays for “Furthur”, but with Almost Dead his drums were a lead instrument — he was able to stretch out and play in a way that the restrictions of a “tribute” band don’t allow. And play they did. Over three hours in two lengthy sets. The highlights were bountiful, but it was the little moments that captured the night for me — a space jam in the middle of Althea, a blazing Shakedown Street (streaming below) that literally began on the last note of Tennessee Jed and continued into a very original jam, the 1973-era “Stronger than Dirt” instrumental post-Eyes jam, multiple teases of Caution in and out of The Other One, and an incredibly huge and energetic Viola Lee Blues (streaming below) that pushed the show to over three hours.

Given the incredible results of this show from a musical unit that only plays occasionally, its hard to fathom that “Almost Dead” might be a one-off or a once a year event. Maybe in the post-Dead era, that’s also the right approach to this music. Get it right, and then let it go. We always have the tapes. If Joe and friends decide to do it again, however, I’ll be there. It may not be like the first time, but it won’t be a disappointment.

I recorded this set with the four mic rig from the right side of the venue, about 30 feet from the stage. The sound in the Bowl on this night was perhaps the best its ever been, and I’m really pleased with the outstanding results of this recording. Enjoy!

Stream “Viola Lee Blues”:

Stream “Shakedown Street”:

This Recording is now Available for Download in FLAC and MP3 and for Streaming at [HERE].

Note: All of the material on this site is offered with artist permission, free to fans, at our expense. The only thing we ask is that you download the material directly from this site, rather than re-posting the direct links or the files on other sites without our permission. Please respect our request.

Joe Russo Almost Dead
Brooklyn Bowl
New York, NY USA

FOB Four-Track Audience Recording

Sennheiser MKH-8040 Cardioids + Neumann KM-150s > Edirol R-44 (Oade Concert Mod) > 2x 24bit 48kHz wav file > Soundforge (level adjustments, mixdown, set fades) > CDWave 1.95 (tracking) > TLH > flac (320 MP3 and tagging via Foobar)

Recorded and Produced by nyctaper

Joe Russo – Drums and Vocals
Marco Benevento – Keyboards
Scott Metzger – Guitar and Vocals
Tom Hamilton – Guitar and Vocals
Dave Dreiwitz – Bass

Set 1
[Total Time 1:24:31]
01 Bertha
02 Althea
03 Jack Straw
04 Deal
05 Mr Charlie
06 [band introductions]
07 Brown-Eyed Women
08 Tennesee Jed
09 Shakedown Street
10 Jam
11 China Cat Sunflower
12 I Know You Rider

Set 2
[Total Time 1:42:58]
13 Estimated Prophet
14 Eyes Of The World
15 Help On The Way
16 Slipknot
17 Franklins Tower
18 St Stephen
19 The Eleven
20 Caution Jam
21 The Other One
22 Viola Lee Blues
23 [encore break]
24 US Blues

If you download this recording from NYCTaper, we expect that you’ll please support these artists, visit their websites and purchase their office merchancise. Benevento-Russo Duo [HERE], Marco Benevento [HERE], Tom Hamilton [HERE], Scott Metzger [HERE], and Dave Dreiwitz [HERE].

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31 Responses to Joe Russo’s Almost Dead: January 26, 2013 Brooklyn Bowl – Flac/MP3/Streaming

  1. Dan
    January 29, 2013 at 8:15 am


  2. Everyone's aCritic
    January 29, 2013 at 9:13 am

    “And thankfully neither sounded really anything like Garcia”

    “he was able to stretch out and play in a way that the restrictions of a “tribute” band don’t allow.”

    I’m guessing you are not a fan of Furthur. What turd comments though. Thanks for the recording, not so much for the oration of your personal opinion.

  3. My Fellow Prisoners
    January 29, 2013 at 12:12 pm

    I can understand what the author was trying to say there without seeing it as turdish.

  4. Cmiller
    January 29, 2013 at 12:36 pm

    Hey Everyone’s aCritic – you’re way out of line. This is his site, his recording and he can express whatever opinion he chooses to. You are the one who needs to keep your insults and opinions to yourself. Christ.

    Thanks nyctaper!

  5. Whitt
    January 29, 2013 at 1:59 pm

    thanks for the recording, sounds stellar!

  6. January 29, 2013 at 2:02 pm

    Well, this site is open to comments, so Everyone’s a Critic has just as much right to his as I do to mine. I realize now, as I did when I wrote the review, that the post-Dead bands have their faithful and emotionally invested supporters. But that doesn’t mean that I don’t stand by every word in this review. As a Garcia-centric Dead fan of old, I could have not measured my words and said how I truly feel about what’s being done to his legacy by his former bandmates. But I’ll save that for another time. Suffice to say, this Russo show was an incredibly rewarding experience and I was happy to have been there.

  7. biskitwheels
    January 29, 2013 at 2:42 pm

    Great work on the recording, as good as you can get from an AUD.

    Thanks for sharing!

  8. Adam Oppenheim
    January 29, 2013 at 2:48 pm

    Everyone’s aCritic, you are the turd. Stop showing off by trying to use fancy words. Did I miss the “oration” of an opinion? Does that mean “thanks for the free music” in your language?

  9. Andrew
    January 29, 2013 at 3:25 pm

    Thanks nyctaper for the recording. Special night, Saturday night was.

  10. acidjack
    January 29, 2013 at 8:06 pm

    You guys, minus that one dude, are the best commenters I’ve seen on the site to date. Thanks folks!

  11. My Fellow Prisoners
    January 29, 2013 at 8:10 pm

    yeah this fing rocked man. turd = turd! best part, he knows it!!!

  12. mikey binger
    January 30, 2013 at 5:07 pm

    holy face melter!! awesome

  13. GinVT
    January 30, 2013 at 7:27 pm

    Everyone’s aCritic – your comments make you seem so wildly self unaware and stupid that it’s beyond belief. I mean really… My guess is that you never saw the Grateful Dead, and if you did it was most likely during the post-coma period.

    NYCTaper’s write up of the Russo show was the first real articulation of what I have been feeling for a long time now – that the post-Garcia years have been “so canned and knock off-ish that all the magic is gone.” So true. I agree that Garcia’s legacy is being used and abused by many – including some of his former band mates. All that said, this Russo show so totally kicks mother fucking ass! Thanks for delivering a great recording and a little faith that these songs can sound new and fresh once again.

  14. Mike
    January 30, 2013 at 9:35 pm

    How the hell do I open this mp3 file on a mac?

  15. acidjack
    January 31, 2013 at 12:40 am

    If it is not working, the problem is on your end. I downloaded it to my Mac a few days ago and opened it just fine. You should be able to just click the file to unzip it. If that is not working, try downloading the free program StuffIt Expander.

  16. phil
    January 31, 2013 at 2:53 am

    one of my fave bands is “wake the dead” because they put their own spin on the music. what the folks who play GD music too often do is exactly what nyctaper is “complaining” about, they try too hard to sound like GD.
    yeah, i get it. we all miss Jerry. a lot. but he’s gone. furthur is snoozy, to me. and too many of these whiz kid guitarists are spending so much time trying to channel Garcia that they don’t put any of themselves into it. i loved the viola lee blues and am downloading the rest.
    there is something called the “american beauty project” that played in minnesota in june 2011 that featured jim lauderdale and was awesome and didn’t sound like the GD at all

  17. don osborn
    January 31, 2013 at 11:57 am

    Thanks for the post and for recording it. I just saw one of the mentioned tribute bands last night in Minneapolis, and look forward to checking this out. The You Tube clips I’ve sampled have been great. cheers.

  18. Andrew
    January 31, 2013 at 4:48 pm

    Thanks for the recording, sounds great! As to your comments about what the former band members are doing to Jerry’s legacy, I’d love to hear your thoughts. I never saw the Dead (w/Jerry), and am very thankful that I have the chance to see the remaining members whenever time allows. I’m particularly loving the work Weir is doing with TRI studios and appreciate the fact that they’re trying to pull new bands and musicians from outside the “jam” scene into the dead family. Seems like they’re making a concerted effort to further Jerry’s legacy with new generations, and to create a legitimate mark for their music within the American musical tradition.

    Anyhow, thanks again for the work, I’m loving it.

  19. kubacheck
    January 31, 2013 at 7:50 pm

    thanks!!…. this looks pretty cool…..

  20. mr. live music
    February 1, 2013 at 1:29 am

    “If u get confused, listen to the music play”

    Look people – NO ONE OWES U ANYTHING!!! We should all be thankful for whatever these great musicians put out and allow to be recorded and posted for FREE! If you don’t dig it, don’t fucking listen. As someone who knows Garcia fairly well, he’d laugh in the face of ANYONE who takes time to trash music of this kind. It’s dead music for DEAD FANS! Get over urself and eat some more gooballs! If u can do better urself then fucking DO IT! It’s a free country, brah!

  21. February 2, 2013 at 1:55 pm

    The dead with Jerry were a very special band. I saw 1 gig with the others after his death. It is not in the same category.(had not seen dead at all in years and years anyways) They are great musicians, and do some great work….but listen to any dead tape from 77 and compare it to the recent stuff….. That said, I can’t wait to listen to this recording in the car and hear someone not trying to be Jerry!

  22. tubro
    February 4, 2013 at 2:57 pm

    sorry, this is long. not that nyctaper needs any of us to defend him, but what the hell…here goes. first, i didn’t get the impression one single solitary bit that he was dissing anyone or being the least amount negative in saying that ‘thankfully neither sounds much like garcia’. i read that as simply suggesting that its been done over and over and there’s a huge difference between sounding like garcia and approaching improvising solos over these songs in the way garcia did. there was no need for nyct to point out that he knows his GD. that is totally obvious. so he knows of what he speaks and he speaks of something that obviously many people believe.
    secondly, honestly regarding furthur, dso, the dead, other ones, p & f, ratdog lovers. you all know that some of these shows can be a big bundle of nostalgic fun and sometimes they can inspire great playing from great players, but of course they’re tribute bands and they’re not always that good. the dead had off nights too but they were the dead. when a band trying to recapture something else, at least as part of its reason for being, not only doesn’t do so, but also has an off night, it can be pretty bad. that’s not as much an insult as it is a fact. they play tribute to an astonishing body of work by a band that was astonishing because it could combine collective improvisation with the fact that it had an undisputed central player. and that central figure passed away. so it became something different. but the fans don’t fill the place without a large nod to ‘sounding like the old days’. and that’s a simple fact. so furthur’s guitarist gets the gig. close your eyes and its pretty cool but also pretty creepy. be someone who saw the GD from the 70s on and its aurally a bit odd. i don’t condemn it a bit and i’ve had some good fun at a couple of their shows. there’s no doubt that its cool, well intentioned fun for which phil, bless his new liver and his unending energy and joy, in particular, deserve great thanks. what a nice flame flame to keep alive. believe it if you need it, eh? i stopped needing it many times per year a long time ago but i still like it once in a while. to each his own. they do it for the fans and as a tribute (yeah that word again) to something great in many memories.
    but a lot of old deadheads, my (and apparently nyct included) thought, back in ’95, ‘wouldn’t it be great if there were a way to continue playing this music without aping it’? the popularity of the various arena sized ventures drives the thing and again, i think bobby and phil are to be thanked. and they really have tried some stuff that stepped outside the jerry soundalike comfort zones. warren’s a great player. and an earnest guy. and he tried hard. did it work? reasonable people can differ. me? i hoped back in 95 that they’d tour with a sax player who could swing and improvise and understand what JG was about, and leave the guitar out of it for a while. different vocalist doing his tunes and theirs. its not too late. phil, bobby, billy, dylan, ornette coleman or david murray, chimenti (better player than any of the guys who sat in that chair from 66 to 95 in my view) and russo. i’d go see that.
    and hell, turd caller, can you really say for a moment that the supporting players in the post dead official bands don’t have some limitations on them? no doubt phil wants everyone improvising – damn — his joy when it goes right is something to behold, to this day – but at the same time its a gig and a very professional one at that. they’re not just told to put on a tie dye and jam out.

    and then there’s this show. when i heard about it, it seemed like the best or near best post jerry thing to date. still does.

    thanks nyc taper.

  23. Hi Turds
    February 5, 2013 at 11:51 pm

    I had no idea that group of people were doing a Grateful Dead tribute show. I’m glad it got great reviews. Can’t wait to listen to the whole thing.
    To read a Non Turdy review of the show, start this article at the second paragraph.

  24. February 18, 2013 at 10:55 am

    Hey, I’m a huge deadhead and no offense was taken here at all. Thanks for the recording; I am thoroughly enjoying it!

    Can’t wait for Akron/Family in April!

  25. Chris
    February 27, 2013 at 8:05 am

    Fantastic tape! Thank you very much.

  26. jack
    March 21, 2014 at 5:38 pm

    I’m a little puzzled at the comments about unnamed certain former Grateful Dead members not honoring “Garcia’s legacy,” as if the Grateful Dead was Garcia’s band, creation and sound. The Grateful Dead sound evolved and was as dependent on all the band members as it was on Jerry’s lead. Don’t believe it? Try taking out Ron’s organ in the 60’s, Bobby’s riff’s on Jack Straw, China Cat etc, etc, etc. Nobody played lead like Jerry. He was unique. But the surviving members have every right to continue to evolve their music – it didn’t belong to Jerry.

  27. March 22, 2014 at 5:51 am

    Glad I came across this performance only a year or so too late. As an old ‘Deadie’, I too, have been frankly, surprised that none of the post Dead incarnations of former members trotting out the oldies, have tried to do more with the material than utilze guitar players (as skilled and fine as they generally are)that have to sound, fenerally NOTE FOR NOTE like the late Jerry G, aping his stye to the point at which you would swear it is him… and considering that he is now long gone, that is not what I seek!

    So I get what our host is saying as I must agree. Playing the notes in his exact style, with little personal improvisation, sounds by rote and can be boring. Bringing something new to the original guitat parts, now that can be inspiring.

    I have mined this site for a few years now, for items I’ve aired and wish to thank it’s creator for all the quality shows, including this gem.

  28. leon
    August 12, 2014 at 10:16 am

    I have agree that some of the original comment was turdy. Dismissing “the Dead” as cover band is an absolutely ridiculous statement. It consisted of all the surviving members and produced some quality and authentic grateful dead music.

  29. leon
    August 12, 2014 at 10:30 am

    One of best sets of grateful dead music I have ever seen was Ratdogs performance at Mountain this year. The playin > darkstar > milestones was epic and was superior to 95% of the dead shows i saw with garcia. So suggesting that most of post garcia performances sound canned or knock-offish is another ridiculous elitist statement thats turdy.

  30. August 12, 2014 at 11:54 am

    If you believe that anything done by Ratdog in 2014 is even remotely comparable to the quality of even an average Grateful Dead show, then you are delusional.

  31. March 8, 2015 at 7:19 pm

    The review of this fine show that nyctaper wrote is a good one. I am very impressed with both the recording and the concert itself, this is a GREAT band!

    I think the most important thing here is the closing comment of the article:
    “I’m really pleased with the outstanding results of this recording. Enjoy!”

    I for one am very grateful for the opportunity to enjoy this show. Thank you, nyctaper, you rock.

    I’d just like to add that the band ‘Jazz Is Dead’ offered one of the most exciting independent and personal interpretations of the Dead’s fine repertoire, look for recordings of their gigs on the Archive. There are also some concerts billed as ‘Jazz Is Little Dead Feat’ where Messrs. Barrere and Tackett join for an interesting two-band repertoire occasion. All good stuff.

    Peace, brethren.

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