In the past month or so, both Dead & Company guitarists – namely John Mayer and Bob Weir – have joined the acclaimed tribute act Joe Russo’s Almost Dead for extended sit-ins. Unlike most tribute bands, drummer Joe Russo has actually spent time performing with members of the band he tributes, during his tenure with Furthur. This sets Almost Dead on a unique trajectory, performing the music of the Grateful Dead with a background in, well, performing the music of the Grateful Dead.The first of these high-profile sit-ins came when John Mayer made his way to the Brooklyn Bowl back in October. Mayer has found himself in the center of the Dead universe after his full transformation into Deadheadism, catapulted to prominence by his fame and, more importantly, his talent. The guitarist is a faithful bearer of the proverbial torch, steeped in blues rock traditions.When he made his way to the Brooklyn Bowl, John Mayer didn’t just join in for a song or two – he played an entire set with Almost Dead. A set with this band is no easy feat, as Joe Russo & co truly take liberties with the Grateful Dead catalog like few before them. Fortunately, Mayer is a pro, and he handled the band’s style with a passionate energy. You can hear that in full force on “The Other One,” streaming below.While Mayer adapted to the Joe Russo’s Almost Dead style, it seems that the band “almost” adapted to Bob Weir’s style when the Grateful guitarist joined them last weekend. Weir met up with his former Furthur bandmate, Russo, his future “Los Muertos Con Queso” bandmate, Tom Hamilton, and the whole Almost Dead crew for an intimate moment at the Fox Theater in Oakland, CA. Unlike Mayer sitting in for a whole set of Almost Dead music, the band stripped down and welcomed out Weir for a five song acoustic set.This wasn’t the first time that Joe Russo’s Almost Dead went acoustic; they actually did that at the afore-mentioned Brooklyn Bowl run in October. However, when you consider Weir’s recently completed acoustic “Campfire Tour”, it’s evident that Almost Dead adapted to Weir for the set. Not that that’s a bad thing! Bob Weir is a legend, after all. The set itself featured a mix of Bob Dylan and Grateful Dead classics, not too far off from the “Campfire Tour” setlists.Watch Joe Russo’s Almost Dead perform “Cassidy” (with “Let It Grow” teases), courtesy of MarkoVision Films, below.As Bob Weir was a founding member of the Grateful Dead. it would make sense that Joe Russo’s Almost Dead would cater to his desired performance style. Meanwhile, John Mayer, as revered as he is as a musician, is still a newcomer to the Grateful Dead world. He seems naturally elated just to play the Grateful Dead’s music, and what better way to do so than with a band who are equally as elated to play the catalog. It seems that John Mayer is almost on a level playing field as the Joe Russo’s Almost Dead crew, a member of the next generation of Grateful disciples, while Weir is O.G. Dead.All in all, these collaborations detail an underlying devotion to the Grateful Dead. The music never stopped!
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