On Friday, April 5th, 2019, bassist Oteil Burbridge (Dead & Company, Allman Brothers Band, Aquarium Rescue Unit, Vida Blue) helped launch the inaugural Suwannee Rising Music Festival with an incredible set of classics including tunes from the Grateful Dead, Allman Brothers Band, The Beatles and more.
Burbridge didn’t do all this good work on his own, of course. The opening night’s Oteil & Friends performance saw the Dead & Company bassist joined by drummer John Kimock (Mike Gordon), keyboardist Jeff Chimenti (Dead & Company), guitarist Scott Metzger (Joe Russo’s Almost Dead), Lamar Williams Jr.—son of former Allman Brothers bassist Lamar Williams—who made few stellar guest vocal appearances, and the late, great Neal Casal (Chris Robinson Brotherhood, Circles Around The Sun) on guitar.
Sadly it was the last visit Casal would pay to the Spirit of the Suwannee Music Park, a venue he had graced so many times in the past. In these clips, you can instantly see the passion, talent and precision Casal played with as well as the easy onstage camaraderie he shared with his fellow musicians that made him such a beloved part of the scene. That’s not to say the rest of the band didn’t more than do their share.
Oteil’s smooth yet powerful bass playing set the stage and his friends wrapped themselves around his deep sounds as if they were caught in the grips of his sonic gravity. Scott Metzger and Jeff Chimenti showed how completely at ease their practiced mastery of the Dead songbook had made each of them, while Kimock displayed a sense of familiarity with the material that well defies his young age. This set has become well regarded and hailed a bright future for this wonderful event, looking to return to full strength on April 7th–9th, 2022. While we wait for the exciting lineup announcement on the way, let’s look back at how the whole party got started.
Thanks to a pair of repaired hard drives, our own Rex-A-Vision has unearthed a trove of lost footage, including the captivating clips below that he couldn’t wait to share with us all. You can watch other highlights from the Oteil set, including stunning takes on songs by Grateful Dead, Allman Brothers Band, The Beatles, and more, here, after you enjoy the moving music below.
Oteil & Friends – “Ophelia” (The Band) – 4/5/19
Oteil & Friends – “Tore Up Over You” (Jerry Garcia) – 4/5/19
Oteil & Friends – “High Time” (Grateful Dead) – 4/5/19
Oteil & Friends – “Tough Mama” (Jerry Garcia Band) – 4/5/19
Oteil & Friends – “Run For The Roses” (Jerry Garcia Band) – 4/5/19