Joe Russo’s Almost Dead returned to their favorite room on Thursday night when they kicked off a three-night run at the Brooklyn Bowl in New York City. While the rollicking five-piece always pays tribute to the Grateful Dead, last night found them paying particular tribute to founding Grateful Dead keyboardist Ron “Pigpen” McKernan (on the 45th anniversary of his death) and International Women’s Day.

The band opened their first set with the Anthem of the Sun number “Alligator”, a JRAD favorite that was co-written by Pigpen in 1968. “St. Stephen” followed before the group dove into their second-ever “Dupree’s Diamond Blues” on their way to “King Solomon’s Marbles”. Up next was JRAD’s second-ever rendition of Waylon Jennings‘ “The Only Daddy That’ll Walk The Line”, a tune that Jerry Garcia covered with fellow San Francisco mavericks New Riders of the Purple Sage on a few occasions in the early ’70s. Finally, the set wrapped up with a take on the Grateful Dead’s only chart-topping hit, “Touch of Grey”.

JRAD – “Only Daddy That’ll Walk The Line” > “Touch Of Grey”

[Video: monihampton]

In another nod to Pigpen, the second set got started with “The Golden Road (To Unlimited Devotion)”, one of the Grateful Dead’s earliest tunes and an ensemble effort in the writing department. JRAD staple “Jack Straw” then gave way to “Hell in a Bucket”, a latter-day Dead effort that was co-written by another dearly departed keyboardist, Brent Mydland. Next the band toyed with tradition as “Scarlet Begonias” moved into “I Know You Rider” instead of the expected “Fire On The Mountain” (and without stopping at “China Cat Sunflower” beforehand). A relatively rare “Stella Blue” then closed out out the set in predictably-gorgeous fashion.

JRAD – “The Golden Road (To Unlimited Devotion)”


However, one of the night’s biggest moments came at the very end when JRAD honored International Women’s Day with their seventh rendition of “Man Smart (Woman Smarter)”, a King Radio calypso classic that was a part of the Grateful Dead repertoire during the second half of their career. That surprise effort melted into more predictable closer as the band ended the show with “Not Fade Away”—but not before Joe Russo paused the final song to announce that he had performed with Living Colour the previous night (at Carnegie Hall’s Led Zeppelin tribute) and get in a quick “Cult of Personality” tease.

JRAD – “Man Smart (Woman Smarter)” > “Not Fade Away”

[Video: via rdeal1999]

JRAD will continue their run at the Brooklyn Bowl tonight (March 9) and tomorrow (March 10).

Setlist: Joe Russo’s Almost Dead | Brooklyn Bowl | New York, NY | 3/8/18

Set One: Alligator, St. Stephen, Dupree’s Diamond Blues, King Solomon’s Marbles, The Only Daddy That’ll Walk the Line, Touch Of Grey

Set Two: The Golden Road (To Unlimited Devotion), Jack Straw, Hell In A Bucket, Scarlet Begonias, I Know You Rider, Stella Blue

Encore: Man Smart (Woman Smarter), Not Fade Away*

*with “Cult of Personality” tease