Dead & Company kicked off their 3rd summer tour in as many years on Wednesday in Mansfield, Massachusetts. Original Grateful Dead members Bob Weir (rhythm guitar, vocals) and the “Rhythm Devils” Billy Kreutzmann (drums) and Mickey Hart (percussion) have been joined by long-time Dead collaborator Jeff Chimenti (piano/keyboards), former Allman Brothers and Aquarium Rescue Unit member Otiel Burbridge (bass) and John Mayer (guitar) since the band’s inception in the fall of 2015. Dead & Co will be rolling through Riverbend on Monday, June 4th, to reprise their outstanding summer 2016 show at the same venue.
Don’t mistake Dead & Co as a Grateful Dead “cover” band (I use cover loosely since Bob Weir is credited as the songwriter for many Grateful Dead hits)- instead, Dead & Co is continuously re-making Grateful Dead originals and covers in a new way and providing crowds across the country with expansive improvisational jams that harken back to when Jerry Garcia was leading the group onstage. John Mayer doesn’t mimic Jerry Garcia, but weaves Jerry’s recognizable style into his own blues-filled methods to create lead guitar work that will blow you away if you thought John’s playing was limited by what you hear from him on pop radio.
Dead & Co provided a free livestream of their tour opener Wednesday night and it’s clear that the band is wasting no time in reaching a new level with their music, which was no more evident than a progression of Bird Song > Loose Lucy > jam > Bird Song to end the first set that explored space that I’ve never heard from the Grateful Dead or any iteration or tribute band for the group.
We won’t get many more opportunities for summer tours with original members of the Grateful Dead- so don’t miss out this Monday.