Joe Russo’s Almost Dead Welcomes Cage The Elephant Guitarist In New Orleans


On Saturday night Joe Russo’s Almost Dead finished up their weekend in New Orleans by closing out their two-night stand at the Mardi Gras World Ballroom. The five-piece band delivered a jam-heavy show that featured some setlist antics and a sit-in during their encore.

Drummer Joe Russo, keyboardist Marco Benevento, bassist Dave Dreiwitz and guitarists Scott Metzger and Tom Hamilton got their night in the Crescent City going with “Casey Jones.” Metzger then stepped up to sing lead on “Let It Grow,” which saw the quintet work in a tease on Led Zeppelin’s “Ten Years Gone,” from the band’s 1975 double-album Physical Graffitti. JRAD’s first opened-ended jam sequence of the night followed with them working in elements of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s “My Favorite Things” from the 1959 musical The Sound Of Music along with some more obvious material with “Let It Grow” and “Bird Song.”

Russo & Co. eventually found their way into the “Bird Song” they’d been toying around with as last night’s version also saw Joe and Marco lock in on Duo Jam along with Benevento once again getting to shine on a solo of his own. “Greatest Story Ever Told” and Martha Reeves & The Vandellas’ Motown hit “Dancing In The Streets” closed out their penultimate set in New Orleans.


Joe Russo’s Almost Dead got their final frame of the run underway with a Hamilton-led take on latter-day Grateful Dead nugget “Foolish Heart.” The band dropped in its second freeform jam in between takes on “New Minglewood Blues” and “China Cat Sunflower.” The Bob Dylan deep cut “Tell Me Momma,” which was only performed during Zimmy’s 1966 with The Hawks, kicked off a wild stretch where JRAD would work in and out of “Cumberland Blues” and Johnny Cash’s “Big River.” The extended run on the two tunes saw them playing bits and pieces of each, singing one song to the tune of the other as they weaved in and out them. Things slowed down a bit next with “Candyman” as “The Music Never Stopped” brought things to an end.

JRAD returned to the stage for a two-song encore that saw the band welcome out Cage the Elephant guitarist Nick Bockrath who had played a set earlier in the day with his band at the fairgrounds at the Jazz & Heritage Festival. Bockrath assisted on “Going Down The Road Feeling Bad” which segued straight into “Franklin’s Tower.”

Check out photographer Adam McCullough’s gallery from Saturday night’s show and the fully annotated setlist below:


Setlist (Compiled by Peter Costello)

Set One (9:31PM – 10:52PM): Casey Jones > Let It Grow @ -> Jam # -> Bird Song $ -> Greatest Story Ever Told > Dancing In The Streets

Set Two (11:28PM – 1:10AM): Foolish Heart % -> New Minglewood Blues ^ -> Jam -> China Cat Sunflower & -> Tell Me Mama -> Cumberland Blues Jam * -> Big River Jam I + -> Cumberland Blues -> Big River Jam II + -> Cumberland Blues -> Big River Refrain I + -> Cumberland Blues -> Big River Refrain + II -> Cumberland Blues Reprise @@ Candy Man ## > Music Never Stopped

Encore: Going Down The Road Feeling Bad $$ %% -> Franklin’s Tower $$

@ – With a “Ten Years Gone” (Led Zeppelin) Tease (Band)

# – With elements of “My Favorite Things” (Rodgers and Hammerstein) and Teases of Let It Grow & Bird Song

$ – With a Marco Solo & a Duo Jam

% – With China->Rider Transition Teases (MB & TH)

^ – With a Throwing Stones Tease (TH)

& – With a Let It Grow (I think) Tease (TH)

* – With a Marco Solo, first time Cumberland has appeared as a Jam. Basically they started Cumberland, it morphed into a Marco Solo, which became a Big River Jam & then they sung the lyrics of Cumberland.

+ – Partial Instrumental & Refrain versions of a Johnny Cash Cover, First time Played in this style () by Almost Dead

@@ Not Played By Almost Dead since 2017-10-06 Brooklyn Bowl, Brooklyn, NY, a gap of 29 shows

## – With a “Revelry” (Traditional) Tease (SM)

$$ – With Nick Bockrath (Cage the Elephant) on guitar for both songs & vocals on GDTRFB

%% – Without the traditional instrumental We Bid You Goodnight ending. It segued directly into Franklin’s