Joe Russo’s Almost Dead Debuts ‘Me And Bobby McGee’ & ‘I Shall Be Released’ In Montclair

Watch JRAD debut the Kris Kristofferson classic.

By Nate Todd Sep 30, 2022 1:27 pm PDT

Joe Russo’s Almost Dead kicked off a three-night run at the Wellmont Theater in Montclair, New Jersey on Thursday. The band unveiled covers of Kris Kristofferson’s “Me And Bobby McGee” and Bob Dylan’s “I Shall Be Released.”

JRAD — drummer Joe Russo, guitarist Tom Hamilton, keyboardist Marco Benevento, guitarist Scott Metzger and bassist Dave Dreiwitz — jammed their way into “Ruben & Cherise” to launch the show. The band then flowed into a bust out of “Deep Elem Blues,” last time played on October 5, 2017 for a total gap of 153 shows, as per JRAD Facebook. Tom Hamilton sang lead on the entire tune rather than swapping verses as the band had done previously.

A substantial “Playing In The Band” followed ahead of the “Me And Bobby McGee” debut. The Kris Kristofferson song was made famous by Janis Joplin, whose posthumously released version in 1971 topped the singles chart. The Grateful Dead debuted the song on November 29, 1970 not long after Janis’ death and it remained in heavy rotation into 1974, as per The Setlist Program. As he often does, Scott Metzger helmed the Bob Weir-sung tune for the JRAD premiere. The band wrapped the first set with a pairing of “Cumberland Blues” and “Shakedown Street.”

The second frame got underway with Chuck Berry’s “Around & Around,” which saw the band adding elements of “Here Comes Sunshine.” The rocker gave way to the Dead classic “The Other One” which included portions of “Cryptical Envelopment,” not played by JRAD since 2019. A “Dark Star” jam followed and bled into “Loser.” A well-jammed “I Know You Rider” prefaced set closer “Sugar Magnolia.”

JRAD would return to unveil “I Shall Be Released” for the encore. Written by Bob Dylan, the song emerged from the famed Basement Tapes sessions and The Band included “I Shall Be Released” on their landmark 1968 debut album, Music From Big Pink. JRAD handled the gospel-tinged tune’s vocal harmonies well and Marco delivered a tasty, Garth-Hudson-esque organ solo.

Watch JRAD debut “Me & Bobby McGee” below:


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Setlist

Joe Russo's Almost Dead at Wellmont Theater

Set 1
  • Rubin and Cherise  
  • Deep Elem Blues  
  • Playing in the Band  
  • Me and Bobby McGee  
  • Cumberland Blues  
  • Shakedown Street  
Set 2
  • Around and Around  
  • The Other One  
  • Cryptical Envelopment  
  • Dark Star  
  • Loser  
  • I Know You Rider  
  • Sugar Magnolia  
Encore
  • I Shall Be Released
  • Bob Dylan
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