Forever Grateful: Celebrate Neal Casal’s Birthday By Watching His Guest Appearance With Furthur

Watch video from the sit-in including Neal leading a gorgeous “Across The Universe.”

By Nate Todd Nov 2, 2022 10:47 am PDT

Today marks what would have been Neal Casal’s 54th birthday. Casal sadly died by suicide on August 26, 2019. Neal was a highly collaborative musician who added his expertise in both guitar and songwriting to a number of groups like Chris Robinson Brotherhood, Ryan Adams & The Cardinals and one of his final projects, Circles Around The Sun. A common thread with all three bands is a connection to Grateful Dead members.

Two of those members, guitarist Bob Weir and bassist Phil Lesh, formed Furthur in 2009. A solidified lineup of drummer Joe Russo, keyboardist Jeff Chimenti and guitarist John Kadlecik along with backing vocalists Sunshine Becker and Jeff Pehrson soon followed. The Black Crowes frontman Chris Robinson would be one of Furthur’s earliest guests in 2010. In 2011, Chris formed The Chris Robinson Brotherhood with Casal as lead guitarist. At the end of that year, the CRB delivered a run at San Francisco’s Great American Music Hall which saw sit-ins from both Furthur leaders Phil Lesh and Bob Weir.

Flash forward to 2013 and Furthur was rolling on their fall tour. On October 5, the Grateful Dead offshoot delivered the second of three concerts at the Greek Theatre in Los Angeles. Furthur would welcome two guests that night, California residents Neal Casal and Jonathan Wilson — the latter would later play on the posthumously released Casal co-write with Johnny Irion, “No Hard Feelings”

Wilson sat in on a number of songs to close out the first set. Neal contributed to a good chunk of the second set beginning with “Scarlet Begonias” followed by “Uncle John’s Band” and a song Neal was certainly familiar with, Ryan Adams’ “Let It Ride” (Adams played with Phil Lesh & Friends in the mid-2000s). While Casal would depart for the latter-day Dead rarity “Just A Little Light,” he returned to sing on the highlight of the collaboration, “Across The Universe,” marking the first and only time Furthur would perform the John Lennon-penned Beatles classic.

In honor of Neal Casal’s birthday today, watch him lead Furthur through “Across The Universe” and add to “Scarlet Begonias” and “Uncle John’s Band” below:

blisstanger (See 2 videos)
Furthur (See 68 videos) and Neal Casal (See 25 videos)

blisstanger (See 2 videos)
Furthur (See 68 videos) and Neal Casal (See 25 videos)

Furthur (See 68 videos) and Neal Casal (See 25 videos)

Setlist (via

Set One: Feel Like a Stranger, Friend of the Devil, Big Bad Blues, Bertha*, West L.A. Fadeaway*, New Speedway Boogie, Johnny B. Goode

Set Two: Scarlet Begonias** > Uncle John’s Band** > Let it Ride**, Just a Little Light, Across the Universe** > Let it Grow > Terrapin Station > Fire on the Mountain**

Encore: I Know You Rider***

(*) w/Jonathan Wilson

(**) w/Neal Casal

(***) w/Jonathan Wilson and Neal Casal

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