Goose guitarist Rick Mitarotonda got a jump on his Mexican vacation for the inaugural Dead Ahead Festival, arriving in Cancún early to sit in with Mt. Joy at the Out of the Blue Festival. The indie-focused Out of the Blue takes place at the same Moon Palace Cancún resort where the Grateful Dead-centric Dead Ahead will debut January 12th–15th.

Sunday marked the kick-off of Out of the Blue, which will feature sets from CaampNoah KahanLizzy McAlpine, Trampled By Turtles, and more throughout the week. Mt. Joy headlined the first night, welcoming an array of guests including Kahan and Joy Oladokun, who will perform later in the week. What set the jam world abuzz, however, was Mitarotonda’s appearance with Mt. Joy on the original “Let Loose”. Let loose Rick did, as the rocketing young guitarist traded licks with Mt. Joy’s Sam Cooper and injected a decidedly more improvisational spirit into the band’s more straight-ahead indie-folk flavor.

The sit-in marked a full circle moment between the two bands’ camps, several months after members of Mt. Joy took in a Goose show during an off day while on tour in Europe. The bands also share a mutual connection through lighting designer Andrew Goedde, Goose’s longtime LD who Mt. Joy also enlisted for its recent world tour.

Mitarotonda’s early arrival in Mexico is also reminiscent of Phish guitarist Trey Anastasio, who oftentimes travels to Riviera Maya a week before his band’s weekend getaway to sit in with Dave Matthews and Tim Reynolds at their resort festival. Phish’s 2022 Riviera Maya concert series saw Matthews return the favor, sticking around to join Phish for his first sit-in with the band in a quarter of a century.

Rick will have plenty more collaborations to come this weekend at Dead Ahead, where he will serve as one of several special guests alongside Derek TrucksSusan TedeschiMargo Price, and Sturgill Simpson. These additional artists will join Bob WeirMickey HartJeff ChimentiOteil BurbridgeDon Was, and Jay Lane for two nights of curated collaborations, in addition to sets by Bob Weir & Wolf Bros, Mickey and The Miracles, Oteil & FriendsLettuce, acoustic Goose offshoot Orebolo, and many more.