We’ve been with Joe Russo’s Almost Dead from their very first show at Brooklyn Bowl, so it was especially exciting to see the band in the big room at the Capitol Theatre in Port Chester. Given the special historical relationship between The Cap and the Grateful Dead, this gig was a kind of affirmation for JRAD. And the fans agreed — this date sold out quickly and well in advance. So there was a palpable sense of excitement when the band took the stage and immediately burst into a ’76-77 era version of “Dancing In the Streets” filled with neat funky guitar fills and tons of energy from the rhythm section. JRAD is always full of surprises, but what happened next was especially nice for us here at NYCTaper — the entrance onto the stage of friend of the site Nicole Atkins. Nicole ostensibly performed the “Donna parts” throughout the night, except that she’s a significantly better vocalist than Donna Godchaux ever showed during her time in the Grateful Dead (check out Nicole’s solo verses on “Music”). And as expected, Nicole provided a series of breathtaking moments throughout the night, highlighted by her solo rendition of Pigpen’s late era classic ballad “The Stranger (Two Souls in Communion)”, which like all JRAD performances balanced the tender line between tribute and respectful original take on the music. It was an interesting choice of material to feature Nicole on lead vocals and the selection proved brilliant.
This night was also featured an abundance what we have come to expect from JRAD shows — inspired and collaborative improvisational work which imparts new life into well-worn material. The version of “Dancing” definitely took its flavor from the late 70s GD, but JRAD took it out deep, and when the song reached to the final chorus after nearly twenty-minutes, it returned from places the Dead never imagined. “Cassidy” is a track that became fairly static in the later years of GD performances, which was a shame because the composition offers a jam-ready mid-song interlude. As expected, JRAD took that offer and upped the ante considerably. The mid-“Cassidy” jam contained a Playing-like deep space that gradually reached a manic Caution-like climax that we didn’t expect would ever return to the song proper. But return it did, ever so briefly, before exploding into a ’69-style “St. Stephen” that nearly took the roof off the old place. The first set continued with an extended “Eyes” that teased “Loose Lucy” before it flowed into a celebratory “Not Fade Away” that closed the meaty set. The second set’s opener “Music Never Stopped” followed the same path as “Cassidy”, taking a fairly static GD song that offered space for improvisation and taking full advantage. This “Music” extended past fifteen minutes before it returned to the final refrain. The remainer of the show was notable for its continued intensity, imaginative song selections and the true dedication to the music exhibited by all. By the time the band reached the set’s final song, a sweet “Ripple” encore, it was clear that Joe Russo’s Almost Dead had truly done the historic Cap proud.
This recording is a special one for the site. We were granted access to a soundboard feed in order to mix a special “matrix” of this show. I set up the mics in the taper’s section at the front right corner of the soundboard cage. I utilized the Schoeps cards and added the Grace V3 as a pre-amp to sweeten the capture. The room sounded terrific and the crowd was fairly respectful. The board feed was impeccably mixed by JRAD FOH Pete Costello — a perfect stereo pan, complete separation and superb balance. The matrix mix is fairly even between board and audience. The result is one of the best recordings we’ve ever offered on this site. Enjoy!
This recording would not have been possible without the generosity and assistance of three separate entities — the outstanding staff at the Capitol Theatre, Pete Costello, and of course the members of JRAD.
Stream “Dancing In The Streets”:
Stream “Music Never Stopped”:
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
Port Chester NY
Digital Master Recording
FOB Audience + SBD Matrix
Soundboard [Engineer: Pete Costello] Schoeps CCM4u Cardioids > Sound Devices 744t > 24bit 48kHz wav > Soundforge (post-production) > CDWave 1.95 (tracking) > TLH > flac (320 MP3 and tagging via Foobar)
Recorded and Produced by nyctaper
[Total Time 1:31:44]
01 Dancing In The Streets
02 Dire Wolf
04 St. Stephen
05 The Stranger (Two Souls In Communion)
06 Eyes Of The World
07 Not Fade Away
[Total Time 1:22:06]
08 Music Never Stopped
09 King Solomon’s Marbles
10 China Cat Sunflower
11 The Eleven
12 I Know You Rider
13 Morning Dew
14 One More Saturday Night
15 [encore break]
If you download this recording from NYCTaper, we expect that you’ll please support these artists, visit the JRAD website, visit the JRAD Facebook page, and visit their individual websites and purchase their official merchandise. Benevento-Russo Duo [HERE], Marco Benevento [HERE], Tom Hamilton [HERE], Scott Metzger [HERE], and Dave Dreiwitz [HERE].