Words by: Ben Erickson
Todd Sheaffer w/ Dead Floyd :: 9.8-9.17
Colorado’s Front Range is a hotbed for live music, especially for shows that fall into the jamband genre. With ample amazing venues, beautiful natural surroundings, a relaxed vibe and a rabid local fan base, it’s extremely evident why bands flock to the area regularly, often for multiple night runs. Music lovers in Colorado often use the term “Colorado Problems” when multiple shows are happening on the same night in the region. This past weekend was a prime example of this, with STS9 at Red Rocks, Jimmy Herring & The Invisible Whip at the Fox Theatre in Boulder and Spafford headlining the Canyon Jam at Mishawaka Amphitheatre in the beautiful Poudre Canyon west of Fort Collins leading the available musical offerings.
One way for bands to combat the inevitable “Colorado Problems” that arise is to combine forces with other artists and play collaborative shows. Dead Floyd is a Colorado-based tribute act that celebrates the music of The Grateful Dead and Pink Floyd. The four-piece band is made of up of veterans of the Colorado scene that have roots in past and present bands including Musketeer Gripweed, The Grippe, Holy Moses and the High Rollers and The Maji. They have slowly, and organically grown into a regional touring act, playing throughout Colorado, recently venturing into Utah and preparing for their first foray into Arizona. For this weekend’s shows the band was joined on the bill by Todd Sheaffer of Railroad Earth and From Good Homes. With Todd’s devoted following of local Colorado “Hobos,” and Dead Floyd’s front range fans, the shows would be mutually beneficial for the two acts, pulling together two fan bases that may not have gone to a show featuring only one of the acts.The format of the shows featured a solo acoustic set from Sheaffer, followed by a collaborative “Dead Set” with Sheaffer fronting Dead Floyd and finishing with a set from Dead Floyd.
Friday night found the pairing at Cervantes’ Other Side in Denver for the opening show of a two-night run together. Sheaffer began the night with a solo acoustic set that included “Long Walk Home” and “Lonecroft Farewell” from Railroad Earth’s 2010 self-titled album. The set also featured a well-received cover of The String Cheese Incident’s “Sometimes A River.” After a short break, Sheaffer returned to the stage with Dead Floyd for a collaborative set of Grateful Dead songs. Before stepping on stage together the collaboration between Sheaffer and Dead Floyd had consisted of a series of emails and a soundcheck earlier in the evening. It was clear from the opening number of “Sugaree” that the pairing worked well together and the audience was in for a treat. The highlight of the set was a run of “Wharf Rat” and “Bertha” with Sheaffer taking lead vocal duties on both.
Relieved of his normal lead vocal duties, Dead Floyd guitarist Charlie Humphreys could focus more solely on his guitar work, and he delivered blistering solos throughout the night. Sheaffer and Humphreys both took turns soloing on “Wharf Rat,” with the latter adding a tease of “Roggae” as a nod to the recent Phish run at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park. “Wharf Rat” also featured great vocal work on the chorus from Sheaffer, Humphreys and bassist Josh Miller. The band then took off on a driving “Bertha” that featured lovely keyboard work from Matt Goldberg. A raucous version of “Good Lovin’” closed the collaborative set, and as Sheaffer exited the stage, Dead Floyd launched into their own set opening with “One Slip.” In their typical manner Dead Floyd weaved in and out of Grateful Dead and Pink Floyd songs, with the reemergence of the latter allowing Josh Miller to display his vocal prowess, singing lead on the Pink Floyd tunes. The meat of the set was made up of a “Young Lust” sandwich that was filled with “Touch of Grey,” “One of These Days” and “Eyes of the World” before returning to “Young Lust”.
On Saturday night the pairing would play their second show together at the Aggie Theatre in Fort Collins. The anticipation for this show was heightened from the night before because it was at Dead Floyd’s hometown venue, and the pairing had actually played a set of music together with great results. Sheaffer once again began the night with a heartfelt solo acoustic set, taking a fan request for “Ferris Wheel Waltz,” and offering a preview of the collaborative set to come with a gorgeous rendition of “Peggy-O.” The crowd anxiously awaited the collaborative set from the pairing with those who had attended Friday night’s show stoking the fire of anticipation. The opening “Mississippi Half-Step Uptown Toodeloo” got the party started and the set rolled on from their with fiery versions of “Scarlet Begonias” and “Jack Straw.” A pairing of “The Wheel” and “Ripple” closed out the second ever set of Sheaffer fronting Dead Floyd. On both Friday and Saturday night, the excellent work of lighting director Jake Gibson of AoS Lighting became evident during the collaborative set, his work with Dead Floyd over the past few years has become an integral part of the live experience they create.
After a short break Dead Floyd got their set rolling with an opening combo of “Greatest Story Ever Told” and the Pink Floyd deep cut “Not Now John.” The closing run of songs included a jammy, groove heavy version of “Another Brick In The Wall Part 2” propelled by drummer Stu Crair and featuring a tease of The Talking Heads’ “Crosseyed and Painless.” This went into the classic Grateful Dead combination of “Help On The Way” > ”Slipknot!” > ”Franklin’s Tower,” with “Slipknot!” featuring a tease of Steely Dan’s “Any Major Dude” as a nod to the recent passing of guitarist Walter Becker. A final pairing of Floyd and Dead in an encore featuring “Lost For Words” and “Brokedown Palace” brought the night to a close.
Videos (Captured by Kyle Isaac)
September 8 – Cervantes’ Other Side @ Denver, CO
Todd Sheaffer Solo: Cold Water, Long Walk Home, Dance A Hole, Do You Remember (aka Charlie Rose), Lonecroft Farewell, From Dover to Dunkirk, Sometimes A River, Enjoy Yourself, Old Soul, Everything Comes Together, Sing For Me
Dead Floyd with Todd Sheaffer: Sugaree, Big River, Wharf Rat > Bertha > Good Lovin’
Dead Floyd: One Slip > China Cat Sunflower > I Know You Rider, Fearless, Row Jimmy, Young Lust > Touch of Grey > One of These Days > Eyes of the World > Young Lust Reprise > Not Fade Away
Encore: The Thin Ice > Standing on the Moon > Run Like Hell
September 9 – Aggie Theatre @ Fort Collins, CO
Todd Sheaffer: Dandelion Wine, Ferris Wheel Waltz, Oh Mary Don’t You Weep, I’ve Endured, Captain Nowhere, Space Johnny, Hard Livin’, Where Songs Begin, Peggy-O, Real Love, Blues
Dead Floyd with Todd Sheaffer: Mississippi Half-Step Uptown Toodeloo, Scarlet Begonias, Jack Straw, The Wheel > Ripple
Dead Floyd: Greatest Story Ever Told > Not Now John > Althea > Breathe > On the Run > The Other One > Have a Cigar > St. Stephen > Another Brick in the Wall Pt.2 > Help on the Way > Slipknot! > Franklin’s Tower
Encore: Lost for Words > Brokedown Palace
Soul singer Charles Bradley has died at the age of 68.
Widespread Panic will perform a three-night stand in Atlanta to ring in 2018.
Read Bryan Lasky’s review and view his photos from last weekend’s Grand Point North music festival in Burlington, Vermont.
Gov’t Mule will perform three shows in two cities to ring in 2018.
A hologram of late musician Frank Zappa will be part of an upcoming live concert tour.
Anders Beck talks about a busy few years for Greensky Bluegrass, his multiple other projects and much more in a wide-ranging conversation.