Joe Russo’s (Almost) Almost Dead: Non-Grateful Dead Covers Performed By JRAD


Joe Russo’s Almost Dead’s setlists are almost always constructed from songs regularly played by the Grateful Dead, Jerry Garcia and Bob Weir. “Almost always” means JRAD incorporates songs by other musicians into their live shows, often drawing from the realm of classic rock.

With more than 300 Joe Russo’s Almost Dead videos available to view in the JamBase Live Video Archive (JBLVA), there are ample opportunities to watch the band pay tribute to others beyond the Dead.

Scroll on for 10 examples of JRAD covering icons of rock ‘n’ roll like The Band, The Beatles, Neil Young, Bob Dylan and others via the JBLVA.

The Band | Ophelia

Other than the Grateful Dead, one of the most frequently covered group to land in JRAD setlists is The Band. Over the years, the master reinterpreters have taken on The Band favorites such as “The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down,” “Don’t Do It,” “Chest Fever,” “Look Out Cleveland” and “Yazoo Street Scandal.” This video features JRAD at the TAB in ATL on February 14, 2019, led by guitarist Scott Metzger covering another of The Band’s classics, “Ophelia.”

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Led Zeppelin | Good Times, Bad Times

Led Zeppelin’s presence on JRAD setlists should come as no surprise considering the band (minus guitarist Tom Hamilton) makes up the pre-JRAD Led Zeppelin instrumental tribute act Bustle In Your Hedgerow. For an example of a Zeppelin cover with vocals, check out this video of “The Lemon Song” sung by guest singer Nicole Atkins. For a Zep cover more in the style of Bustle, check out the video above of “Good Times, Bad Times” played at the Brooklyn Bowl in March 2018 (and stick around for the “Chest Fever” that follows).

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The Beatles | Why Don’t We Do It In The Road?

While The Beatles are not known for improvising during their concerts, Joe Russo’s Almost Dead has been known to rely on the Fab Four’s songbook. Last summer, with frequent guest saxophonist Stuart Bogie sitting-in, JRAD opened their show at Red Rocks with their debut of “Why Don’t We Do It In The Road?” off The Beatles’ 1970 double LP, The White Album. The original version of Paul McCartney’s ditty clocked in at 1:41 — this show-opening performance by JRAD at Red Rocks spanned +15 minutes.

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Bob Dylan | Silvio

Bob Dylan was regularly covered by the Grateful Dead, with both Garcia and Weir singing lead on different songs. Joe Russo’s Almost Dead has also performed many of those same Dylan tunes like “Quinn the Eskimo (The Mighty Quinn)” and “When I Paint My Masterpiece” as well as a few that the Grateful Dead did not also cover such as “Tonight I’ll Be Staying Here With You.” JRAD also played “Shelter From The Storm” which was performed by Dylan with the Dead. Weir joined JRAD on a cover of “A-Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall” and Grateful Dead bassist Phil Lesh joined them on “All Along The Watchtower.” The video above features a performance of “Silvio” a song that was co-written by Dylan with Grateful Dead lyricist Robert Hunter. The recording of Silvio that appeared on Dylan’s 1988 album Down In The Groove featured backing vocals from Garica, Weir and late former Dead keyboardist Brent Mydland.

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Neil Young | Vampire Blues

Another veteran singer-songwriter who can also put on one hell of a rock show, Neil Young’s music has too been a source of material for Joe Russo’s Almost Dead. Sung by the group’s namesake drummer Joe Russo himself, the group has worked through the On The Beach deep cut “Vampire Blues” a number of times. This video features the second set opening rendition of “Vampire Blues” from March 14, 2019 at College Street Music Hall in New Haven, Connecticut.

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Allen Toussaint/The Rolling Stones | Fortune Teller

”Fortune Teller” is a song written by late great New Orleans musician Allen Toussaint. It was covered by The Rolling Stones, landing on their live album Got Live If You Want It! that came out in 1966. In this video, Joe Russo’s Almost Dead can be seen playing The Stones’ arrangement of “Fortune Teller” out of “St. Stephen” at Brooklyn Bowl in 2016. Sung by Russo, the band seamlessly transitioned from “Fortune Teller” into “I Know You Rider.”

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The Allman Brothers Band | In Memory Of Elizabeth Reed

On a few occasions, scheduling conflicts between JRAD and bassist Dave Dreiwitz’s other band Ween have caused other bass players to fill in at JRAD shows. One such substitute is Oteil Burbridge, whose resume includes membership in Dead & Company, Aquarium Rescue Unit and The Allman Brothers Band. This video comes from March 18, 2017, during a show held once again at Brooklyn Bowl. With Oteil helping lead the way, JRAD performed the classic Allman Brothers instrumental written by Dickey Betts, “In Memory Of Elizabeth Reed.”

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Bruce Springsteen | Atlantic City

Acclaimed singer-songwriter Bruce Springsteen’s 1982 solo album Nebraska included the song “Atlantic City.” The often covered song is part of Joe Russo’s Almost Dead’s repertoire, with guitarist Tom Hamilton leading the way, as can be seen in this video opening the second set on September 26, 2019 in Philadelphia. Another JRAD cover of The Boss, his hit “Born To Run,” can be viewed here.

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Watch more JRAD non-Grateful Dead covers in the JBLVA including Dr. John’s “Such A Night,” Donovan’s “There Is A Mountain,” Dolly Parton’s “Joeline,” Three Dog Night’s “Never Been To Spain” and Radiohead’s “The Bends.”