Dead & Company Welcomes Michael Franti At Playing In The Sand


After taking a night off Dead & Company returned to the stage on Saturday for the second of three scheduled headlining performances at Playing In The Sand, their inaugural destination event in Riviera Maya, Mexico. The six-piece stuck to their more Americana-leaning material in the first set, while the second stanza saw them get a little looser while welcoming out Michael Franti to assist them on a song.

Grateful Dead members Bob Weir, Mickey Hart and Bill Kreutzmann along with Oteil Burbridge, Jeff Chimenti and John Mayer got the night underway with “Shakedown Street.” The 21-minute version had a mellow funk groove rather than it’s typical upbeat disco dance party sound. As the band hit the song’s ending breakdown Mayer locked in on Billy Preston’s “Will It Go Round In Circles” singing the chorus from the keyboardist’s 1972 release Music Is My Life. The sextet picked up a tempo a bit next as Mayer led them through “Cold Rain & Snow” that featured the guitarist throwing down some fiery licks over Chimenti’s bubbly organ work. The up and down tempo of the set rolled on as Bobby delivered a slow plodding “Loser.” The cautionary tale about a down and out gambler was followed by another tale out of the old west as Weir and Mayer swapped verses on “Jack Straw.”

The back end of the opening frame continued to live in the Dead’s early-1970s repertoire as Mayer got a chance to shine on “Easy Wind,” which gave him an opportunity to show off his bluesy guitar stylings and Chimenti another turn in the spotlight on a standout solo. The Workingman’s Dead track segued straight into “Tennessee Jed.” First set MVP Mayer continued to show off on “Sugaree,” with a tender oceanside sing-along version of “Ripple” closing things out.

Dead & Company got their fourth set of Playing In The Sand going with “Viola Lee Blues,” diving head first into the prison song that dates back to the Dead’ psychedelic ballroom days. The band stayed in that era segueing into “China Cat Sunflower,” with Franti and members of Spearhead emerging to join in on an extended take on “I Know You Rider.” Franti, who headlined with Spearhead on Friday night, got to sing lead on the “I wish I was a headlight, on a northbound train” lyrics, changing the final verse to “I’d shine my light right down on the Mexico rain.” “Comes A Time” brought the things down from the high energy opening run.

“Deal” gave Mayer another chance to show off, with the “Drums” > “Space” portion of the night following. The psychedelic excursion found its way into another ballad, this time it was the Grateful Dead’s later day standout “Standing On The Moon.” D&C brought the second set of the night to a close with “The Wheel” that got a dose of reggae as it wound down, and a spirited take on “Sugar Magnolia” with the night-appropriate “One More Saturday Night” occupying the encore slot.

Watch pro-shot video of the opening songs from each set, along with fan-shot video of “I Know You Rider” below:

[Shakedown Street]

[Viola Lee Blues]

[I Know You Rider | Captured by Still Dead]


Set One: Shakedown Street > Will It Go Round In Circles Jam, Cold Rain & Snow, Loser, Jack Straw, Easy Wind > Tennessee Jed, Sugaree, Ripple

Set Two: Viola Lee Blues > China Cat Sunflower > I Know You Rider, Comes A Time, Deal > Drums > Space > Standing On The Moon, The Wheel, Sugar Magnolia

Encore: One More Saturday Night