Best Dead Cover Band? Performances from JRAD that Prove Its Supremacy

by Peter Wendel
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gd.1nDemand for The Grateful Dead’s music has reached its highest point in years – a market reality that keeps splinter bands, like Dead & Company and Phil Lesh & Friends, as well as cover bands, like Dark Star Orchestra (DSO) and Joe Russo’s Almost Dead (JRAD), working full tilt.

While splinter bands, which include original members of The Grateful Dead, are in a separate category, the battle for cover-band supremacy continues unabated. Two bands that have risen to the top of the heap are DSO and JRAD. The quick-and-dirty difference between the two is that DSO impeccably recreates Dead shows – song for song, note for note – while JRAD strays from exact duplication, reinterpreting songs, particularly instrumental passages and transitions.

Nate Todd, an AXS.com contributor, believes JRAD – pound for pound – is the most talented Dead cover band touring today. Here’s more from Todd’s December 14th article entitled “5 Songs that Prove Joe Russo’s Almost Dead Is the Premier Grateful Dead Cover Band”:

12063438_1039077109460065_6954214729551793363_nWhat sets JRAD apart is not necessarily in the way they play Grateful Dead songs, which is pretty straight forward, but in the way that they interpret them in an improvisational sense. JRAD doesn’t jam exactly like the Dead; they have their own improvisational flair. It’s hard to put your finger on exactly but a part of it is that JRAD let themselves be themselves. They’re not trying to be the Grateful Dead, which let’s face it, is probably a fool hardy venture unless you’re doing it very, very well. They don’t recreate shows and they don’t look the part. Further (pun intended), JRAD plays juxtapositions of songs that the Dead never did, giving a whole new flow and feel to the music. But what JRAD does have in common with the Dead besides the songbook is a certain charismatic chemistry that just draws people in.

Here are performances Todd believes show JRAD’s supremacy. Read his full AXS article here.

Peter Wendel is a journalist and PR consultant. He's attended hundreds of concerts and festivals, including the Peach Mountain Jam, The All Good and Lockn'. He's ridden legendary Grateful Dead runs from Ventura County Fairgrounds to Irvine Meadows (CA) from the Nassau Coliseum (NY) to the Boston Garden (MA). Peter is a former U.S. Marine who – after running into trouble with every last one of his commanding officers – received an honorable discharge and a direct order never to return. Born in California and raised in New Jersey, Peter lived in Boston and Joshua Tree (CA) before settling in the nation's capital. Find him on tour at PWendel@SongMango.com.

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