Billy & The Kids With Billy Strings & James Casey Kick Off Bill Kreutzmann’s 75th Birthday
Billy & The Kids kicked off “Grateful Mahalo: Billy Kreutzmann’s 75th Birthday Pa’ina” celebration on Friday with the first of three webcasts from Kauai, Hawaii. The supergroup welcomed special guests guitarist Billy Strings as well as Trey Anastasio Band saxophonist James Casey.
Billy & The Kids — drummer Bill Kreutzmann, guitarist Tom Hamilton, keyboardist Aron Magner, and bassist Reed Mathis along with Strings and Casey — got the first set underway with a very laid back Hawaiian version of “Mississippi Half-Step Uptown Toodleloo” with Kreutzmann adding a steady foundational shuffle. Hamilton led the band through the first verse before Casey delivered a breezy sax run. Tom returned to the mic ahead of honky-tonk piano solo from Magner. After the third verse, the band dropped into the “Across the Rio Grandi-o” section which saw Billy Strings delivering a rocking solo on his Les Paul before Hamilton sang the “lazy river” lyrics and took a solo of his own as the band brought the jam to a peak and conclusion.
The sextet then dropped into “Deal,” also sung by Hamilton. Casey and Strings took the first round of solos before Hamilton returned to the mic. Magner then fired up an organ excursion with Hamilton adding some complementary notes in some nice interplay between guitarist and keyboardist. Tom once again brought the song home with a fantastic, rowdy solo. Casey joined him on some well-placed horn notes before the band cooled things down for the final chorus. Strings captained the band on “Jack-A-Roe” which headed into “Crazy Fingers” helmed by Hamilton. Billy & The Kids continued to toggle singers, with Strings fittingly leading the way on a cover of Phish’s “Back On The Train,” a song that is in his solo repertoire. Then it was Magner’s turn to sing on “Let It Grow” to close out the first frame.
A mellow Hawaiian rendition of “Help On The Way” began the second set, which saw Magner adding some Brent Mydland sounding electric piano touches. After leading the band through a couple verses, Hamilton took a soaring solo before dropping into the final verse. “Help On The Way” was followed by its constant companion “Slipknot!” which saw a good old psychedelic jam featuring Strings on some wailing runs joined by Casey. Then rather than hitting “Franklin’s Tower,” Billy & The Kids went down to “Deep Elum Blues.” Strings led the band through the rendition with an infectiously funky beat from Kreutzmann. Both Hamilton and Casey took runs before Strings crushed a solo himself. “Deep Elum” broke down into another free for all space with “Slipknot!” remerging from the madness.
Strings then lead the way on “Wharf Rat,” another song he does with his band and which won JamBase’s 2021 March Madness Tournament covers competition. “Wharf Rat” saw Hamilton manning the slide and Billy began teasing “Dark Star” which Tom picked up, adding the soaring melody before the band dropped back into “Wharf Rat.” The penultimate song of the show, “Truckin,” saw Reed Mathis taking his turn at the mic before Billy S. led the way through Traffic’s “Dear Mister Fantasy” to bring the concert to a conclusion.
Watch video from the first and second sets below via the JamBase Live Video Archive:
Set One Sneak Peek
Set Two Sneak Peek
Billy and the Kids at Private Venue
- Mississippi Half-Step Uptown Toodeloo
- Crazy Fingers
- Back on the Train
- Let It Grow
- Help on the Way
- Deep Elem Blues
- Wharf Rat
- Dear Mr. Fantasy