[screen snot from LazyLightning55a video]
It was almost exactly two years ago when Joe Russo’s Almost Dead made their debut at the Brooklyn Bowl. In our somewhat controversial review of that show, we found the band’s approach to the music of the Grateful Dead both musically proficient and extremely refreshing. JRAD is a core group of friends and accomplished musicians whose take on the GD catalog was that night in stark contrast from the world of “post-Dead” which had become to me uninspired to the point of becoming almost a gimmick. I’m happy to say that the last two years have proved us entirely correct. As “post-Dead” prepares to say “Fare Thee Well” this summer, JRAD has been an unqualified success. The band has toured several times throughout this period, and last month teamed with Phil Lesh to play a series of New Year’s shows at the Capital Theatre in Port Chester NY. This weekend JRAD returned to where it all began for two very sold-out shows at the Brooklyn Bowl for the “Freaks Ball”. We attended and recorded both but offer up the second night first because this was truly a remarkable performance, surpassing anything that I could have reasonably expected from this group.
The night began with what appeared at first to be a faithful take on Pigpen’s “Alligator” — that was until the jam segment when it became very apparent that JRAD would recognize no boundaries on this night. Led by the thundering bass of Dave Dreiwitz, JRAD weaved in and out of a “Caution Jam” that touched on themes as varied as “Rider” and “Slipknot”. The set’s opener would last nearly seventeen minutes before evolving into “Jack A Roe”. This traditional number was for the Grateful Dead almost always a short first-set Garcia-led song that followed a very specific pattern. For JRAD, there are no patterns as Jack A Roe became a ten-minute exploratory jam vehicle that led very nicely into a celebratory “Uncle John’s Band”. The balance of the first set continued with some interesting song selections that kept the energy high with much more to come. Saturday night’s second set was the highlight of weekend with a “Music Never Stopped” opener that went into some deep space mid-song before returning to finish in resounding fashion. What followed was truly the most inspired song we’ve seen JRAD perform — an eighteen-minute take on “Cumberland Blues” that stretched the song to previously unheard limits and really encapsulates what makes this group special. We’re streaming this song below. The balance of the second set was filled with multiple highlights and featured a wide variety of surprises and interesting and intelligent interpretations of the familiar catalog.
I recorded this set with the Schoeps cards riding very high on a stand about 30 feet directly in line with the right stack. Other than the persistent din of crowd yapping, this is a quite excellent recording. Enjoy!
Stream “Cumberland Blues”:
This Recording is now Available to Download in FLAC or MP3 or to Stream at Archive.org [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, and feel free to repost the Soundcloud links.
Joe Russo’s Almost Dead
Digital Master Recording
FOB Audience – 30 Feet from Right Stacks
Schoeps CCM4u Cardioids > Sound Devices 744t > 24bit 48kHz wav > Soundforge (level adjustments, mixdown, EQ, set fades) > CDWave 1.95 (tracking) > TLH > flac (320 MP3 and tagging via Foobar)
Recorded and Produced by nyctaper
[Total Time 1:09:01]
02 Jack A Roe
03 Uncle John’s Band
05 Ramble On Rose
06 Only Daddy That’ll Walk The Line
[Total Time 1:37:18]
08 Music Never Stopped
09 Cumberland Blues
10 [band intro]
11 Help On The Way
13 Shakedown Street
15 Morning Dew
16 [encore break]
17 Brown Eyed Women
If you download this recording from NYCTaper, we expect that you’ll please support these artists, visit the JRAD Facebook page, and visit their websites and purchase their official merchandise. Benevento-Russo Duo [HERE], Marco Benevento [HERE], Tom Hamilton [HERE], Scott Metzger [HERE], and Dave Dreiwitz [HERE].