10 Standout Dead & Company Debuts From 2017 & 2018
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Dead & Company now has over 100 shows under their belts since the project made its debut on October 29, 2015. Each of the band’s concerts from 2016 onwards is available for download via livedead.co and as streams for nugs.net subscribers. Grateful Dead members Bob Weir, Mickey Hart and Bill Kreutzmann along with Jeff Chimenti, Oteil Burbridge and John Mayer played over 80 different songs over the course of their first tour in the fall of 2015 and have added nearly 30 more to the repertoire in the past three years. Here’s a look at 10 standout D&C debuts from 2017 and 2018 along with a playlist, which are just some of the 400K live jams available on the nugs.net app:
Dead & Company’s version of Martha & The Vandellas’ “Dancing In The Street” is a hybrid of the three different takes on the tune the Grateful Dead performed between 1966 – 1987. Bob Weir handles lead vocals on Dead & Company’s “Dancing In The Street,” while John Mayer sings falsetto and feeds his guitar tone through an auto-wah to give it a disco edge. The sextet debuted “Dancing In The Street” to open on June 9, 2017 at Folsom Field in Boulder and have since performed the Motown classic six additional times.
The Grateful Dead performed King Radio’s “Man Smart (Woman Smarter)” nearly 200 times between 1981 – 1995, but it took a while for Dead & Company to debut the song. “Man Smart (Woman Smarter)” finally saw action at a Dead & Company show on June 22, 2017 at Jiffy Lube Live in Bristow, Virginia. The band covered the tune twice since, including one version on November 14, 2017 and another on June 13, 2018.
Bassist Oteil Burbridge handles lead vocals on Dead & Company’s rendition of the beloved Hunter/Garcia ballad “Comes A Time.” The sextet unveiled the song to rapturous applause at Citi Field in New York City on June 24, 2017. “Comes A Time” has been a staple for Dead & Company ever since.
On November 12, 2017 Dead & Company kicked off their fall tour with the first of two shows at Madison Square Garden in New York City. The band had a pair of debuts in store for opening night, as they unveiled their take on Bob Weir and Robert Hunter’s “Greatest Story Ever Told” early in the show and later premiered Jesse Fuller’s “Beat It On Down The Line.” Dead & Company nailed “Greatest Story Ever Told,” which isn’t exactly an easy song to play. The six-piece has gone on to perform the Ace classic six more times. Meanwhile, “Beat It On Down The Line” only made one additional appearance.
One of the more interesting elements of Dead & Company shows are the jams that emerge out of “Space.” The sextet has used the slot to cover a number of jazz tunes including “Milestones” by Miles Davis and John Coltrane’s “A Love Supreme.” On November 14, 2017 at Madison Square Garden in New York City, the band worked from “Space” into a riveting improvisation based on “A Love Supreme” that featured chanting of the title. Dead & Company played “A Love Supreme” again at two different portions of their Citi Field show in New York City on June 15, 2018. Here’s the version that opened the second set at Citi Field:
While the Grateful Dead only played the Hunter/Garcia ballad “If I Had The World To Give” three times in 1978, the song has caught on in a big way with Dead & Company. Bassist Oteil Burbridge’s voice is absolutely perfect for the song, which the sextet debuted at Nationwide Arena in Columbus, Ohio on November 25, 2017. Dead & Company have since performed “If I Had The World To Give” five additional times.
It didn’t take Dead & Company long to start adding songs to the repertoire in 2018. After opening their summer tour with “Shakedown Street” at Xfinity Center in Mansfield, Massachusetts on May 30, the sextet revved into the Hunter/Garcia rocker “Alabama Getaway” for the first time. John Mayer handles lead vocals on Dead & Company versions, which feature powerful organ solos from Jeff Chimenti. “Alabama Getaway” made five additional appearances this past summer.
Bob Weir strapped on an acoustic guitar towards the middle of the first set at BB&T Pavilion in Camden on June 1, 2018 to lead Dead & Company through their first-ever rendition of the traditional “Jack-A-Roe.” The Grateful Dead had performed the folk song over 100 times between 1977 and 1995 with Jerry Garcia handling vocals. Dead & Company played “Jack-A-Roe” once more on June 16, 2018 at Citi Field.
Many fans had been waiting for Dead & Company to offer their spin on the Primal Dead gem “The Eleven.” On June 16, 2018 they finally got their wish when the six-piece followed “St. Stephen’s” “William Tell Bridge” with their debut of “The Eleven.” John Mayer sounded as if he’d been performing the songs for years, as he delivered one searing lead after another throughout the nearly 10-minute rendition. Additional versions came on June 30 and July 13.
The latest addition to the Dead & Company repertoire is the Ron “Pigpen” McKernan and Robert Hunter-penned classic “Mr. Charlie.” John Mayer channeled Pigpen’s bluesy growl throughout the sextet’s premiere of “Mr. Charlie” at The Gorge Amphitheatre in George, Washington on June 29, 2018. D&C played the tune again a few nights later in Chula Vista, California and in August at the Lockn’ Festival in Arrington, Virginia. Watch the version from Chula Vista: