Billy & The Kids With Billy Strings & James Casey Debut New Song Featuring Robert Hunter Lyrics
Billy & The Kids continued their “Grateful Mahalo: Billy Kreutzmann’s 75th Birthday Pa’ina” livestream series from Kauai, Hawaii on Saturday and again were joined by guitarist Billy Strings as well as Trey Anastasio Band saxophonist James Casey. The first set featured “Thunder,” a song written by Grateful Dead lyricist Robert Hunter but never played by the legendary band.
Billy & The Kids — Grateful Dead drummer Bill Kreutzmann, guitarist Tom Hamilton (JRAD/Ghost Light), keyboardist Aron Magner (the Disco Biscuits) and bassist Reed Mathis (Electric Beethoven) — and their guests started set one with Hamilton leading the Dead classic “China Cat Sunflower.” Instead of the common transition into “I Know You Rider,” the ensemble segued into “Thunder,” which was sung by Strings, who also wrote new music for the tune that was arranged by Billy & The Kids.
Hamilton then led a charge through “Eyes of the World,” followed by Strings fronting a cover of Jimmy Cliff’s “Sitting In Limbo.” Strings switched to acoustic guitar to lead a lively version of “Been All Around This World.” With Strings still acoustic, Hamilton guided a powerful rendering of “Loser.” Strings went back to his electric Gibson guitar and sang lead on the set-closing “U.S. Blues.”
Bob Dylan’s “Tangled Up In Blue” opened Saturday’s second set. “Cassidy,” which like the opener was sung by Hamilton, followed and extended into a jam that eventually transitioned into “Bird Song.” Strings handled vocals on “Bird Song,” which led into another inspired improvisation.
Soon the familiar melody of “Dark Star” developed from the jam as the group segued into the Dead favorite. The mellow “Dark Star” quickly shifted to an invigorated performance of “Franklin’s Tower,” which was absent from Friday’s “Help On The Way” into “Slipknot!” pairing. A brief dip into “Dark Star” paved the way back to the conclusion of “Bird Song.”
Strings went back to his acoustic guitar for the final two songs of the set. First was a romp through Peter Rowan’s “Midnight Moonlight.” The performance ended with a sweet version of the tender ballad, “Brokedown Palace.”
“Grateful Mahalo: Billy Kreutzmann’s 75th Birthday Pa’ina” wraps tonight with a final livestream beginning at 9 p.m. ET via FANS. Watch the start of the first and second set from Saturday’s livestream, including the debut of “Thunder,” below: