Joe Russo’s Almost Dead Debuts A Bunch Of Songs Over 3 Nights In Chicago

Listen to recordings of all three shows.

By Nate Todd Dec 5, 2022 12:39 pm PST

Joe Russo’s Almost Dead completed a three-night run at Chicago’s Riviera Theatre on Sunday. The Grateful Dead tribute act offered a number of debuts and other memorable moments over the course of the weekend.

Friday, December 2 saw Joe Russo’s Almost Dead — drummer Joe Russo, guitarists Tom Hamilton and Scott Metzger, keyboardist Marco Benevento and bassist Dave Dreiwitz — jamming their way into the Pigpen-sung Dead staple cover “Good Morning Little School,” originally recorded by Sonny Boy Williamson. JRAD dusted off the song for the first time since August 19, 2021. The first set came to a close with an interesting trifecta of “Scarlet Begonias,” a cover of Bob Dylan’s “Silvio” and “I Know You Rider.”

The second set got underway with “Jack Straw” which flowed into the JRAD debut of the Lefty Frizzell-recorded “Long Black Veil,” penned by Danny Dill and Marijohn Wilkin. Scott Metzger handled lead vocals on the standard. After leaving “Cassidy” unfinished the quintet explored an 18-minute “Fire On The Mountain” before Benevento and Russo presided over a “Duo Jam” ahead of “Drums” and “Estimated Prophet.” The “Terrapin Suite” sealed the second set. JRAD returned to encore with Bob Dylan’s “Tonight, I’ll Be Staying Here With You.”

Night two saw the band welcoming Stuart Bogie for the complete show with the woodwind specialist offering a mix of saxophone, flute and clarinet. JRAD launched the show with a debut, the Keith Godchaux and Robert Hunter collaboration, “Let Me Sing Your Blues Away,” appearing on the Grateful Dead’s 1973 album Wake Of The Flood. The Dead only played the song a handful of times live in September of that year. JRAD kept the focus on Wake Of Flood with “Eyes Of The World” tagging it with the intricate ending the Dead only did live in ‘73. Taking advantage of having Bogie on flute, night two also saw JRAD unveiling a cover of Jethro Tull’s “Locomotive Breath.”

JRAD kicked off the final night with two classic Dead pairings: “Lost Sailor” and “Saint Of Circumstance” as well as “Help On The Way” and “Slipknot!” The quintet then unveiled another Dead rarity, “If I Had The World To Give,” appearing on GD’s 1978 album Shakedown Street and played by the Dead just three times. “Truckin’” closed out the first frame.

A 15-minute “Row Jimmy” launched the second set, which saw Bogie joining for the complete frame. The band would also deliver rollicking rendering of Stone Temple Pilots’ “Vaseline” for the first time. A paring of “New Speedway Boogie” and “Bird Song” sealed the second set before JRAD returned to encore with Bruce Springsteen’s “Born To Run” to put an exclamation point on a stellar weekend.

Listen to all three shows taped by Jeff Travitz and find the setlists below:

Night One Setlist (via AlmostDead.net) & Audio

Set One: Good Morning Little Schoolgirl -> Loser > Greatest Story Ever Told -> Scarlet Begonias -> Silvio -> I Know You Rider

Set Two: Jack Straw > Long Black Veil -> Cassidy unfinished-> Fire on the Mountain -> Estimated Prophet -> Terrapin suite

Encore: Tonight I’ll Be Staying Here with You


Night Two Setlist (via AlmostDead.net) & Audio

Set One: Let Me Sing Your Blues Away > Eyes of the World -> Dancing in the Streets -> The Music Never Stopped

Set Two: Shakedown Street -> St. Stephen -> The Eleven -> Cats Under the Stars > Locomotive Breath > The Other One, Shine On You Crazy Diamond

Encore: One More Saturday Night


Night Three Setlist (AlmostDead.net)

Set One: Lost Sailor > Saint of Circumstance, Help on the Way > Slipknot! > Playing in the Band, If I Had the World to Give -> Truckin’

Set Two: Row Jimmy, Cumberland Blues -> Vasoline verse-> Cumberland Blues -> (Weather Report suite) Part II: Let It Grow -> Samson and Delilah, New Speedway Boogie -> Bird Song

Encore: Born to Run

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