The Grateful Dead have always been one of my favorite bands to listen to winter, spring, summer or fall. I am especially keen to their sound in 1974. I love that year. When you have a band like the Grateful Dead who have made such a massive cultural impact across the planet, it is inevitable that others are going to want to play your music.
Just about every extremely popular musical act has inspired the creation of a cover band somewhere. It makes sense. It’s a proven musical recipe that peoples ears crave and so you really can’t go wrong. It would be interesting to find out which band inspired the most amount of cover bands. I would imagine it would be a band like the Beatles. Who knows. Maybe someone has already looked into it.
There are lots of cover bands out there and if you walk into a local watering hole on a Friday or Saturday night in most towns in America, there is a good chance that you will encounter a group of guys jamming out some classic Zeppelin or AC/DC tunes to an over-served sweaty crowd reliving the glory days of their youth. You will most certainly also hear. “Fuck yeah! This song rocks! I saw this live. Front row.”
There are some cover bands out there that try to recreate the original sound with little or no changes. Joe Russo’s Almost Dead is not one of them. If you like the Grateful Dead and have not had a chance to see this band or listen to them, you need to give it a go.
They absolutely take the Dead’s sound to a new place. The structure of any given song is for the most part kept in place, but they tend to rip through the parts faster with a bit more electric rock n’ roll edge.
The members of the band, Joe Russo on drums, Dave Dreiwitz on bass, Marco Benevento on the keys, Scott Metzger on guitar and Tom Hamilton also on the guitar, collectively mold together the intricate pattern of sounds of the vast Grateful Dead catalog with ease, clarity and power.
If you were ever at a Dead show and thought to yourself that it would be cool if these songs were rocked out just a tad more with a bit more zip during say a super extended slow jam or perhaps after a few slower tunes in any given dead set, than you were thinking of perhaps the same things the guys in this band were thinking when they sat down to play their first show in Brooklyn, NYC back in 2013.
At the end of the day, Joe Russo Almost Dead brings fire and energy to any show they play. They happen to be primarily covering the music of the Grateful Dead but their sound is bigger than that.
I look at it like a weird rock and roll experiment that is going on right now. Each night when each of these outstanding musicians steps on stage, they seem to be seeing how far and radical they can get with the Dead’s sound. And, they do go far. And, they go fast and its wild but its grounded by crafty musicianship that happens when a musical chemistry experiment is a success.
The members of Joe Russo Almost Dead could be playing anything. At present, they have chosen to rock out the Grateful Dead and its a treat to hear their take on the songs. Who knows how long they will keep doing it but for now they are out there having a good time and you should make it a point to hear it while you can.
Have a listen to this podcast. It’s a scorcher. It mixes up songs from 7 handpicked shows recorded between 2013 and 2016. I had a blast putting it together and now I get to sit back and rock out to it. Yesterday, I went on a beautiful 9 mile mountain bike ride near my home in Orono, Maine while listening and it kept me moving fast.
I hope you enjoy it as well 🙂
Throwing Stones > Hey Bulldog Jam > Throwing Stones 11/12/16 > Loose Lucy 12/31/16 > Golden Road to Unlimited Devotion 10/10/14 > Born Crosseyed Jam 12/31/16 > Cumberland Blues 12/27/13 > Drums 12/31/16 > Mr. Charlie 5/24/15 > Casey Jones 11/26/16 > Fire on the Mountain 12/27/13 > Franklins Tower 11/26/16 > Good Lovin’ 12/31/16