JRAD just finished up their CO run on Monday up in Boulder. I was only able to make it to the Sunday show at the Ogden in Denver, but it was an explosive show from start to finish. This was my first JRAD show, and it blew away any expectations I had going in.
Let’s get one thing straight. JRAD is playing the music of the Grateful Dead at a level that hasn’t been heard in a long time. In my humble opinion, their style is the best we’ve seen since the peak years of the Grateful Dead. JRAD is made up by an all-star group of musicians, and they don’t set their sights on simply copying the Grateful Dead’s music. JRAD makes the music their own in many ways, and has their own unique arrangements and jamming styles that completely re-vamp many of these timeless classics.
2/15/15 opened up with several GD staples including Bertha, GSET, and Ramble on Rose. The crowd seemed to be hanging onto every note from the opening lines to Bertha. Ramble on Rose was sweet and powerful. Marco Benevento shined in this version, and his playing really made this version stand out. He really took us to church on this one. Samson and Delilah was strong and boisterous. So strong that Dave broke a string on his bass! Dave stepped off the stage while the rest of the band played a psychedelic dissonant jam. Dave stepped back on stage and the band immediately launched into a really unique version of Cumberland Blues. CB featured a really nice Samson and Delilah jam and Shakedown Street jam before launching into an explosive ending to CB. Shakedown Street was a great set ending dance party, and featured a nice loop segment at the end while the band offstage.
Set 2 featured the band walking back onstage to the shakedown street loop that ended set 1. They finished shakedown, and headed straight into Alabama Getaway with Dave on vocals. The St. Stephen > Eleven > Jam > Truckin’, Mississippi Halfstep segment was the real meat of the second set. This segment had it all; crowd pleasing songs and singalongs, deep dark psychedelic jamming, and unexpected rarities that kept the crowd guessing at what would come next. Hell in a Bucket closed the set with vigor, and left the crowd blown away and wanting more. The encore closed the night off with Touch of Grey, a JRAD debut.
On the long strange walk back to the train station downtown, I was replaying the night over and over in my head. I was so excited about the fact that musicians of such high caliber are putting out such a quality performance of some of the most meaningful music in my life. One of my favorite things about JRAD is that it means the future is bright for the music of the Grateful Dead. With the 50th Anniversary shows at Soldier Field coming up, it seems that everyone is focused on the end. While it is true that the core-four are riding into the sunset as a unit, the music will remain very much alive. Bands like JRAD ensure that the music lives on in the live setting, and the music will continue to resonate with deadheads new and old in a meaningful way.
The music never stopped. (~);)
Check out JRAD recordings on the Live Music Archive: https://archive.org/details/JoeRussosAlmostDead
2/15/15 Ogden Theater Night 2
Bertha (TH) > Greatest Story Ever Told (SM), Ramble On Rose (TH), Samson & Delilah (SM) *> Jam > ** Cumberland Blues (All) > Sampson Jam > Cumberland Blues ^, Shakedown Street (TH) $
* Dave Broke a String
** Without Dave
^ Shakedown Teases (TH)
$ Ended with Joe’s Sampler looping a drum beat
Shakedown Street Reprise %, Alabama Getaway (DD), St Stephen (All), The Eleven (TH,JR) > Blues Jam > @, Truckin (SM) > # Mississippi Halfstep (TH) >Hell In A Bucket (SM)
E: Touch Of Grey (TH) &
% Started with Joe’s sampler looping a drum beat
@ Feel Like a Stranger Teases (TH)
# With The Eleven Teases (TH)
& Almost Dead Debut