Doing justice to one of rock’s most expansive repertoires was always a tall order, but Dead & Company has been steadily working through the Grateful Dead’s songbook throughout over one hundred shows and counting. Despite having performed around 130 distinct songs as of November 2018, so far, the spinoff supergroup (comprised of original Dead members Bob Weir, Bill Kreutzmann, and Mickey Hart along with John Mayer, Jeff Chimenti, and Oteil Burbridge) still has yet to play several notable favorites.

In celebration of last week’s announcement of summer tour dates, and because speculation is entertaining, here are just a few of the songs that Dead & Company could realistically debut during Summer Tour 2019:

“Alligator”: Fans have been waiting impatiently to hear Dead & Company’s take on this early favorite from the Grateful Dead’s second studio album, 1968’s Anthem of the Sun. Surely the Rhythm Devils (drummers Kreutzmann and Hart) would love to take a crowd through the midsong percussive breakdown almost as much as Mayer and Weir would love to lead the band through the song’s manic outro.


[Audio: Grateful Dead]

“It Must Have Been the Roses”: This is by no means the first time “Roses” has appeared on a list of potential Dead & Company song debuts for an upcoming tour. How easy it would be to imagine the band easing into this tender ballad, probably sometime deep in a first set, situated where they might otherwise play a song like “Ship of Fools!” Mayer or Burbridge would likely take over lead vocal duties in a potential Dead & Company debut of this song next summer, and the lucky crowd would be in for a treat.

“It Must’ve Been The Roses”

[Audio: Grateful Dead]

“Hey Pocky Way”: This cover of The Meters’ original found its place in quite a few setlists during the Brent Mydland years, but thus far Dead & Company has steered clear of songs sung by the late Grateful Dead keyboardist. Still, the song’s central driving riff feels right at home in Mayer’s technique, and if the group were to break out a Brent song to debut next summer, “Hey Pocky Way” would be a pretty good bet, regardless of its status as a cover. Could this be an opportunity for Chimenti to sing lead?

“Hey Poky Way” [Live in Greensboro, March 31, 1989]

[Audio: Grateful Dead]

“High Time”: At the time of this writing, Dead & Company has performed every song from Workingman’s Dead (1970) except for one, leaving “High Time” the lone holdout. This heartbroken waltz would lend itself indisputably well to Burbridge’s lead vocal efforts, and in an interview just before the start of the 2018 Summer Tour the bassist reported that his wife had been pressing him to give it and a few other songs a try with Dead & Company. Along with “Roses,” “High Time” is one of the few songs Burbridge mentioned in the interview that remain unplayed after the latest tour.

“High Time” [Live at Fillmore Auditorium, November 8, 1969]

[Audio: Grateful Dead]

“Unbroken Chain”: Admittedly, this one is perhaps the longest shot on this list. The song is infamous in its rarity (sometimes referred to by fans as the “Holy Grail”), and the Grateful Dead themselves only played it ten times live, all in the span of a few weeks in 1995. Still, the beautiful lyricism and compositional complexity of “Unbroken Chain” ensure that it nevertheless looms large for many fans. Dead & Company performed “Box of Rain” three times during Summer Tour 2016 and “Passenger” five times since that year, so there’s certainly precedent for the band performing Lesh tunes even with the bassist’s absence from the group. Hey, a Dead Head can dream, right?

“Unbroken Chain”

[Audio: Grateful Dead]

“Lazy River Road”: Bobby struggles on certain Jerry Garcia songs and shines on others, but his now-raspy voice and folksy vocal phrasing would likely give this song a brilliant treatment. Dead & Company has paid fair attention to later Jerry Garcia/Robert Hunter compositions like “Liberty” and “Days Between,” and this bodes well for the possibility of a “Lazy River Road” debut next summer. If that were to happen, perhaps in place of a “Peggy-O” one night, it would likely be a much-appreciated tender nostalgia trip for thousands of Dead Heads.

“Lazy River Road” (Live at The Palace, Auburn Hills, MI 7/31/94)

[Audio: Grateful Dead]

“Mama Tried”: This Merle Haggard cover became a fan-favorite over the course of at least 300 performances by the Grateful Dead, but has remained conspicuously absent among the Weir covers of the Dead & Company era. If debuted during one of the earlier shows next summer, “Mama Tried” could reasonably come to occupy a stable spot in the song rotation for the summer.

“Mama Tried” (Live at Barton Hall, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY 5/8/77)

[Audio: Grateful Dead]

“Picasso Moon”: Dead & Company has dipped into the Grateful Dead’s final studio album Built to Last (1989) to pull out “Standing on the Moon” fourteen times, but has yet to return to that well for any other songs. Of the album’s songs not written by Mydland and still unperformed by Dead & Company, energetic favorites “Picasso Moon” and “Foolish Heart” stand out as the most likely to be debuted in 2019, with the former taking a slight edge because Weir provides the lead vocals.

“Picasso Moon” [Live at Meadowlands Arena, October 16, 1989]

[Audio: Grateful Dead]

“Lazy Lightning > Supplication”: Is anyone else surprised that Dead & Company hasn’t played this pair yet? The Grateful Dead played “Lazy Lightning > Supplication” 111 times between 1976 and 1984, but Weir’s enthusiasm for the tune seems not to have carried over to his involvement with Dead & Company just yet. Of songs that featured relatively frequently in the Grateful Dead rotation yet remain unperformed by Dead & Company, this pairing is deserving of attention in 2019.

“Lazy Lightning ~ Supplication” – 4/12/1978 – Duke University

[Video: Ihejedaba Nivotoc]

“Dupree’s Diamond Blues”: Dead & Company has already drawn heavily from Aoxomoxoa (1969) with powerhouse staples like “St. Stephen” and “China Cat Sunflower.” Of the record’s remaining tunes, “Dupree’s Diamond Blues” has had the most staying power: though rarely played in the band’s earlier years, the Grateful Dead would ultimately perform the song 80 times, beating out its album peers “Cosmic Charlie” and “Doin’ That Rag” (45 and 38 performances respectively). Of the work from Aoxomoxoa, “Dupree’s Diamond Blues” seems like a clear choice for resurrection from Dead & Company during Summer Tour 2019.

“Dupree’s Diamond Blues / China Cat Sunflower”

[Audio: Grateful Dead]

Up next for Dead & Company is their second annual Playing In The Sand destination event from January 17th–20th, 2019. For more information, head to the event website.