Photos and SBD Matrix Recording: Joe Russo’s Almost Dead

For the last three-plus years Joe Russo has been discovering the music of the Grateful Dead from an interesting position: behind the drumkit of the Phil Lesh and Bob Weir-fronted Furthur. Russo admits to not being very familiar with the Dead’s songbook when he got the call to play drums in Furthur, but after all this time he’s up to speed. With that in mind he recruited four of his best friends to play two sets of Dead covers this past Saturday night at Brooklyn Bowl as Joe Russo’s Almost Dead.

[All Photos by Andrew Blackstein]

With Almost Dead we got a chance to see how the music of the Grateful Dead would sound if Russo called all the shots. For the gig, which was part of this year’s Freaks Ball, the drummer recruited keyboardist Marco Benevento, guitarists Tom Hamilton and Scott Metzger and bassist Dave Dreiwitz. Outside of Hamilton, those in Almost Dead make up the Led Zeppelin tribute act Bustle In Your Hedgerow. From the time the quintet took the stage it was clear a lot of thought and more importantly practice went into the debut of Almost Dead. These guys absolutely nailed nearly everything they played. You don’t play a perfect version of The Eleven, as they did, without running through it a dozen times.

Not only were the renditions of the composed sections spot-on, but the jams were wild and adventurous. It was as if the late ’60s “Primal Dead” tackled tunes from throughout the Grateful Dead’s career. Unlike Bustle, Almost Dead featured vocals with Hamilton, Russo and Metzger capably handling that task as even the harmonies were sweet. There was a rawness and energy to the band’s playing that was unlike any Dead cover band I’ve ever heard. As I tweeted at Russo, “If you leave Almost Dead as a one-time project it will be a crime against humanity.”

In this day and age it’s tough to find consensus on anything, yet everyone I’ve talked to who witnessed the quintet’s debut had the same take I did – two otherworldly sets of music that stand as one of the best post-Jerry performances of the Grateful Dead’s music. Every bold statement you can think of can apply to Joe Russo’s Almost Dead, but now you don’t need to take my word for it as a recording has surfaced.

With that we want to share photos from the concert, thanks to Andrew Blackstein, and download links to recordings of Almost Dead.

Setlist…

Set One: Bertha, Althea, Jack Straw, Deal > Mr. Charlie, Brown-Eyed Women, Tennessee Jed > Shakedown Street > China Cat Sunflower > I Know You Rider

Set Two: Estimated Prophet > Eyes of the World > Help On The Way > Slipknot! > Franklin’s Tower, St. Stephen > The Eleven > The Other One > Viola Lee Blues

Encore: U.S. Blues

Here’s a full gallery of snaps from Joe Russo’s Almost Dead @ Brooklyn Bowl…

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32 Responses

    1. Set One: Bertha, Althea, Jack Straw, Deal > Mr. Charlie, Brown-Eyed Women, Tennessee Jed > Shakedown Street > China Cat Sunflower > I Know You Rider

      Set Two: Estimated Prophet > Eyes of the World > Help On The Way > Slipknot! > Franklin’s Tower, St. Stephen > The Eleven > The Other One > Viola Lee Blues

      Encore: U.S. Blues

  1. Set List:

    Bertha

    Althea

    Jack Straw

    Deal >

    Mr. Charlie

    Brown-Eyed Women

    Tennesee Jed >

    Shakedown Street>

    China Cat Sunflower>

    I Know You Rider

    Set 2

    Estimated Prophet >

    Eyes Of The World>

    Drums>

    Help On The Way/ Slipknot/Franklin’s Tower

    St Stephen >

    The Eleven>

    The Other One>

    Viola Lee Blues
    E:

    U.S. Blues

  2. i’ve split and tagged Set 01 – I am uploading the FLACs to Mega now and will post link in 15 min. Will get to Set 02 later tonight.

  3. here’s set 01 tracked in FLAC.

    http://bit.ly/113G7eJ

    sorry but there’s 30 sec. of silence at the start of Bertha –
    didn’t want to stop and reupload the whole zip because of it.
    Won’t make the same mistake at the start of set 02 and i’ll included
    the fixed Bertha in the set 02 zip.

  4. opinions – there’s a LONG jam after Eyes. I think it’s actually like Eyes -> Help -> Space -> Drums -> Help -> Slip

    anyone have an opinion? or should i cut it the way i think best?

  5. I concur…….THANK YOU!!
    Im a couch tour type of father and love when you throw out such AWESOME nugs of goodness…..Excited and havnt even listened.
    I hope it is not a crime against humanity and they hit up St.Louis one day or do it with Bustle!!

      1. Thanks… looks like the FFP don’t match the torrent and LMA, I’m guess that’s just because these were cut from the untracked source.

  6. O hai Scotty thanks for the alternate link – yes, Mega very lamely tries to make you use Chrome, and tries to serve a download link which I don’t trust – IMO this makes it a very bullshitty service (I’d be using Chrome if it weren’t buggy on my computer, but forcing a specific browser is unacceptable)

    again – thank you!

    1. That’s disappointing because Mega works incredibly fast and doesn’t have any of the “wait 60 seconds” “click this ad” bullshit that other download services use. Thankfully I use Chrome but I agree that it’s ridiculous to have to install other software to use their service

  7. heard good things about this show – downloaded the other scotty b’s recording but might grab this matrix as well. thanks SB!

  8. Definitely a great show but the Freaks B’All Stars of 2012 was a better overall night of music for me than 2013’s Almost Dead.

    Very happy to be able to attend both as they rank among the most fun concerts I have ever seen.

  9. Heh, didn’t realize I’d spark off a shitshow with that chrome remark.

    Regardless, this is a tasty show. Thanks to the multiple people helping to get it out to my ears.

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