As the year comes to a close, it’s time to look back at the wild ride that was 2018. For this series of Live For Live Music staff picks, we’ll be reliving many of the glorious musical moments from the past year. Today, we’re revisiting some of our staff’s favorite live collaborations of 2018. Enjoy!
Herbie Hancock w/ Bob Weir, “Chameleon” | Mountain Theater | Mill Valley, CA | 9/9/2018
On Saturday, September 9th, an impressive crew of musicians converged on the Mountain Theater in Marin County, CA’s Mount Tamalpais State Park for the 2018 edition of Sound Summit: A Benefit For The Mountain. This year, jazz-funk icon Herbie Hancock led an artist roster including Grace Potter, Nikki Lane, and Con Brio. In addition, the event saw Bob Weir reunite with his former RatDog rhythm section (drummer Jay Lane and bassist Robin Sylvester) as Bobby & The Chew Toys.
With so much talent on deck for the evening, many fans held out hope for some onstage collaborations. Their prayers were answered during Herbie Hancock’s headlining set when Herbie emerged from behind his keyboards during “Chameleon” with his keytar in hand and some special news to announce:
I’m gonna bring up a guest. A friend. Friendly face. Friendly sound. You’ve heard it, but every night…is different. Every tune…is different. Every time…is new. Here’s…Bob Weir!
Weir joined in and augmented the already-grooving “Chameleon” improvisation, trading harmonic and rhythmic ideas with Hancock for the better part of ten minutes before the band brought the classic composition back home with its closing coda.
You can watch full fan-shot footage of Bob Weir’s sit-in with Herbie Hancock below:
Herbie Hancock w/ Bob Weir – “Chameleon”
[Video: Steve Virshup]
You can also view a partial video of the sit-in from a closer vantage point in the crowd here:
[Video: Dr. Randy’s channel]
Bob Weir & Phil Lesh w/ Trey Anastasio | Radio City Music Hall | New York, NY | 3/3/18
To kick off a brief stint on the road in March, Bob Weir and Phil Lesh hosted a pair of “Bobby & Phil Duo” shows at New York’s Radio City Music Hall. On Saturday, the second night of the NY stand, the duo welcomed a very special guest for the entirety of their second set and encore: Phish guitarist and “Fare Thee Well” bandmate, Trey Anastasio.
A lengthy intermission allowed the crowd to soak up the grandeur of their surroundings. Opened in 1932, Radio City Music Hall retains its art deco elegance and is simply part of the experience. As the curtain rose for the second set, it was clear someone had joined the duo. Was that Trey on acoustic guitar as the familiar notes of “Playing in the Band” filled the hall?…
Fans began to cheer wildly as the tune took shape and it became clear the second set was going to be something special. Trey brought the energy to a new level with additional musicianship and sonic depth. When the song was over, Phil walked over to Bobby and warmly embraced him. It was gratifying to see after years of the two going their separate ways, both musically and personally. Phil then embraced Trey before taking charge on “The Wheel”. Phil often saves his vocals for the second set, and once he gets started it’s hard to stop him. The jam led into to more Phil vocals on “Dark Star,” replete with requisite trippy lighting.
The high point of the show was the extended “Jack Straw” that followed, with Bobby and Phil trading vocals as the music steadily built up momentum. By the time we were on the Great Northern out of Cheyenne, fans had taken to the aisles, dancing and whirling with joy. Jack Straw from Wichita reached a powerful crescendo as he cut his buddy down, but more positive vibes followed with Trey stepping out on vocals for “Eyes of the World.” Next, the band returned to “Dark Star” to complete its second verse and set the stage for an extended “St. Stephen”. Finally, a spirited “Viola Lee Blues” floated into an emotional “Standing on the Moon” before landing back in “Viola Lee” territory to close the set.
Phil returned to the stage within seconds as the midnight hour approached. “I don’t think I have much time left,” he said before delivering an abbreviated but always heartfelt Donor Rap. Bobby and Trey then returned to join Phil for an acoustic “Ripple”, an entirely appropriate to ending to a night that only got better as it unfolded.
Watch video of the entirety of Bobby and Phil’s collaborative set with Trey below:
Bobby Weir & Phil Lesh w/ Trey Anastasio – Set Two
[Video: Dead & Gang]
Tedeschi Trucks Band w/ Brandon “Taz” Niederauer, “Statesboro Blues” and Sly & The Family Stone Medley | SweetWater 420 Festival | Atlanta, GA | 4/21/2018
On Saturday, April 21st, 2018 at Atlanta, GA’s SweetWater 420 Festival, Tedeschi Trucks Band took the main stage for their headlining performance of the evening. After opening with a number of original tunes, including “Laugh About It” and “Made Up Mind”, the twelve-piece band launched into a number of fan-favorite covers including John Prine’s “Angel From Montgomery” and Grateful Dead’s “Sugaree”. However, the biggest moment of the band’s highly anticipated set was during Blind Willie McTell’s “Statesboro Blues”, when Brandon “Taz” Niederauer joined the festival’s headlining act.
Brandon “Taz” Niederauer is an incredible guitarist as a standalone player—regardless of age—and watching the reverent young performer play alongside a hero of his, Derek Trucks, was heartwarming, to say the least. Furthermore, Taz got his start as a mentee of Col. Bruce Hampton, meaning that he was quickly welcomed into the extended Allman Brothers Band family, including by those in Tedeschi Trucks Band. Taz, Derek, and Susan Tedeschi have a history, and watching the shared love on the stage during “Statesboro Blues” was truly a sight to behold. However, Taz’s guest appearances didn’t stop there—the young guitarist joined the band for their encore of a medley of Sly & The Family Stone covers including “Sing A Simple Song” and “I Want To Take You Higher”.
Watch Taz tear up “Statesboro Blues” with Tedeschi Trucks Band below:
Tedeschi Trucks Band w/ Brandon “Taz” Niederauer – “Statesboro Blues”
Lettuce w/ Bob Weir, John Mayer, Eric Krasno, Oteil & Kofi Burbridge, Alecia Chakour, & Mark Rivers | All-Star JGB Tribute | LOCKN Festival | Arrington, VA | 8/25/2018
On a hot Saturday night in August, the funk gurus of Lettuce performed their second and final set at LOCKN’ Festival in Arrington, Virginia, following up their Thursday night performance, which saw them and Thursday’s headliners Umphrey’s McGee deliver one of the most buzzed-about transitions of the weekend. For their late-night Saturday set, Lettuce played a late-night tribute to Jerry Garcia Band with a truly all-star cast. In addition to on-and-off Lettuce guitarist Eric Krasno, the funk act also welcomed out a number of special guests, including Dead & Company’s Bob Weir, John Mayer, and Oteil Burbridge, and Tedeschi Trucks Band’s Kofi Burbridge, Alecia Chakour, and Mark Rivers.
Lettuce kicked off the JGB celebration at the Relix Stage with the instrumental “Finders Keepers”, an instrumental tune written by Merl Saunders that was frequently recorded and performed by Saunders and Jerry Garcia, followed by a take on Smokey Robinson‘s “I Second That Emotion”, led by keyboardist Nigel Hall. For their first guests of the night, Dead & Company bassist Oteil Burbridge (who was celebrating his birthday that evening) as well as Tedeschi Trucks Band keyboardist (and Oteil’s brother) Kofi Burbridge and vocalists Mark Rivers Alecia Chakour (who formerly sang with Lettuce) and joined the set for a dub-heavy rendition of Peter Tosh‘s “Stop That Train”. After opening and closing with Oteil scatting, Eric Krasno eventually took the lead vocals on the song, highlighting the vocal abilities he began showing off on his debut solo album, Blood From Stone.
After Oteil and Kofi left the stage, John Mayer joined the all-star group, which was augmented by Krasno, Chakour, and Rivers, for a rendition of JJ Cale classic “After Midnight”, with Mayer taking the lead vocals on the tune in addition to laying down a number of standout solos. Lettuce’s renowned drummer Adam Deitch charged the group forward, as Nigel Hall, Mark Rivers, and Alecia Chakour improvised and swapped solos during the song’s closing segment. For the next song, Bob Weir joined Lettuce, Mayer, Krasno, and the Tedeschi Trucks Band vocalists, offering his tribute to Jerry Garcia with a heartfelt rendition of “Sugaree” featuring immaculate guitar work from Eric Krasno.
Up next was a rendition of Bob Dylan‘s “Tangled Up In Blue”, affectionately re-named “Tangled Up In Bloom”, given that Lettuce trumpeter Eric “Benny” Bloom sang the lead vocals on the song. Next up was “That’s What Love Will Make You Do”, which saw Lettuce guitarist Adam “Schmeeans” Smirnoff take the vocals, and “How Sweet It Is (To Be Loved By You)”, with vocals led by Nigel Hall. Across these three numbers, the chemistry of the band and its new guest members was electric, marking many fans’ favorite musical moments of the weekend—and the year as a whole
After the Nigel-led “How Sweet It Is”, Bob Weir left the stage, leaving Lettuce to perform its final two songs with John Mayer, Eric Krasno, and the TTB vocalists. The group continued with the title track to the classic Jerry Garcia album, Cats Under The Stars. Notably, keeping in the theme of various Lettuce members taking the lead on vocals, bassist Erick “Jesus” Coomes led the song on vocals, with Krasno and Mayer laying out an energized call-and-response to end the song. To end the powerful, fan-favorite set, Lettuce and friends performed a triumphant rendition of “They Love Each Other”.
You can watch the full guest-filled Lettuce tribute to Jerry Garcia Band from LOCKN’ below:
Lettuce w/ John Mayer, Bob Weir, Oteil Burbridge, TTB Members – All-Star Tribute to JGB
[Video: Something Like Mayer]
Joe Russo’s Almost Dead w/ John Mayer | Wiltern Theatre | Los Angeles, CA | 11/9/2018
In November, Joe Russo’s Almost Dead played a two-night run at Los Angeles, CA’s Wiltern Theatre. On the second night, following the band’s set break, guitarist and vocalist John Mayer took the stage for the entirety of the second set and encore, with the band introducing the Dead & Company guitarist as “Instagram’s John Mayer.”
As he layered in solos in his signature style throughout the night, Mayer showed off his licks while respectfully jamming with the bandmates throughout their Grateful Dead-inspired setlist, “The Wheel”, “Playin’ In The Band”, “Here Comes Sunshine”, “They Love Each Other”, China Cat Sunflower”, and “I Know You Rider”. The sextet once again returned to the stage for the double encore, Three Dog Night‘s “Never Been To Spain” and The Dead’s “Uncle John’s Band”. You can watch the entirety of Joe Russo’s Almost Dead’s Los Angeles set with John Mayer below:
Joe Russo’s Almost Dead w/ John Mayer