Collaboration appears to be the name of the game at Dead Ahead, the new Grateful Dead-themed destination festival in Riviera Maya, Mexico, which got started on Friday with guest-filled performances by acoustic Goose offshoot OreboloBobby Weir & Wolf Bros, and more.

The event, which effectively replaced Dead & Company‘s annual Playing In The Sand event (everyone except John Mayer from the Grateful Dead spinoff act’s Final Tour roster is on the lineup), recruited a number of featured guests to elevate the proceedings including alt-country hero Sturgill Simpson, gritty Nashville favorite Margo Price, and Tedeschi Trucks Band leaders Derek Trucks and Susan Tedeschi.

After an afternoon pool party with Briscoe, Orebolo got the evening started with the first performance of the weekend on the Beach Stage. Rick Mitarotonda (acoustic guitar, vocals), Peter Anspach (acoustic guitar, vocals), and Jeffrey Arevalo (upright bass, vocals) got the performance started with a mix of acoustic Goose tunes (a fast-paced “Echo of a Rose”, “California Magic”, “Silver Rising”) and sing-along covers (Father John Misty’s “I’m Writing a Novel”, Bruce Springsteen’s “Atlantic City”) before welcoming their first of two high-profile sit-ins, Sturgill Simpson.

Related: Dead Ahead: Bob Weir Welcomes Sturgill, Derek, & Rick On Night 1 In Mexico [Photos/Videos]

Sturgill’s spirits seemed high as he took a seat with the acoustic ensemble, his trusty Telecaster in hand. “These guys were kind enough to ask me to sit in … I’m very grateful.” With that, he led the group into “Breakers Roar”, the second track from his Album of the Year Grammy Award-nominated 2016 LP, A Sailor’s Guide to Earth. The relatively no-frills performance leaned into Sturgill’s sterling voice and songwriting above all else, though Mitarotonda did take a couple opportunities to break from the simple, strummed progression to pepper in some tasteful, melodic leads.

As Sturgill left, he offered a few parting words to the crowd: “I’m here all week, if I see you I’ll steal all your weed.”

Later in the set, after renditions of “Tumble”, the traditional “Angel Band”, and “Madhuvan”, Rick, Peter, and Jeff welcomed Bob Weir to help them close out their performance with a “Brokedown Palace” sing-along.

orebolo, orebolo bob weir, bob weir orebolo
[Photo: Jay Blakesberg – Orebolo with Bob Weir (center), 1/12/24]

Watch videos of the Sturgill Simpson and Bob Weir sit-ins with Orebolo on night one of the inaugural Dead Ahead festival in Mexico below. Scroll down to view a full setlist from the performance.

Other performances at the first day of Dead Ahead included a collaborative Bobby Weir & Wolf Bros set featuring The Wolfpack and a slew of special sit-ins and a late-night dance party with Mickey Hart‘s Mickey Hart‘s Noche de las Hondas (night of the waves) late-night jam with Derek Trucks and more. Keep your eye on Live For Live Music for more of the weekend’s festivities in Mexico.

Orebolo w/ Sturgill Simpson – “Breakers Roar” (Sturgill Simpson) – 1/12/24

Orebolo w/ Bob Weir – “Brokedown Palace” (Grateful Dead) – 1/12/24

Setlist [via]: Orebolo | Dead Ahead Festival | Moon Palace | Riviera Maya, MX | 1/12/24

Set One: Echo of a Rose [1], California Magic, I’m Writing A Novel [2], Silver Rising, Atlantic City [3], Breakers Roar [4], Tumble [5], Angel Band [6], Madhuvan, Brokedown Palace [7]

Coach’s Notes:
[1] Fast version.
[2] Father John Misty.
[3] Bruce Springsteen.
[4] Sturgill Simpson. FTP. With Sturgill Simpson on guitar and vocals.
[5] Tumble’s instrumental bridge was played as an intro to Vibey Tumble.
[6] Traditional.
[7] With Bob Weir on guitar and vocals.


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