Joe Russo's Almost Dead @ Cuthbert Amphitheatre - Eugene, OR
by Finn Turnbull
on Jun 8th, 2019
Joe Russo gets closer to the Dead spirit with every show, which is most likely why they call the group “Joe Russo’s Almost Dead.” It could mean Joe Russo IS almost Dead, or that the group is comprised of Joe Russo’s nearly-Dead members. Either way, the group is making its mark as the top Grateful Dead tribute band in the circuit, gaining as much, if not more popularity than the infamous Dark Star Orchestra. The group is comprised of Joe Russo, Marco Benevento, Dave Dreiwitz, Scott Metzger, and Tom Hamilton. Drummer Russo is known for his work with Bob Weir in Further, Phil Lesh & Friends, and the Shpongle live band. Pianist Benevento plays in the Benevento/Russo Duo, as well as the bands “Bustle in Your Hedgerow, and New Orleans-based Garage A Trois. Dreiwitz is most popular for also being the bassist of cult figureheads Ween. Guitarists Metzger and Hamilton both play with Russo in American Babies, as well.
JRAD is on a 2019 summer tour and stopped by Eugene Oregon’s Cuthbert Amphitheatre, a gorgeous outdoor space worthy of any deadhead gathering. Tapers and trippers garbed in tie-dye and stealies flooded the grassy grounds, getting extra comfy for a two-set evening with the Almost Dead. The first set began with “Althea,” then got the crowd moving with “Truckin’.” “Tennessee Jed” provided an opportune sing-along to finish the first half. When the band began again, the music never stopped. “Here Comes Sunshine” sandwiched “China Cat Sunflower” and “They Love Each Other” before continuing into “Help on the Way.” The final banger, a “Slipknot!” > “Feel Like a Stranger” > “Slipknot!” combo, tied the evening all together. Some deadheads today will say they prefer Joe Russo’s Almost Dead to the current incarnate of the actual Dead, which is Dead and Co. JRAD’s energy and endurance set them apart, as they capture a youthful buoyancy that younger fans just now getting into the Dead may have missed out on. The second set ended with the classic Young Rascals song “Good Lovin’,” a popular Dead cover, and the encore was “Quinn the Eskimo (The Mighty Quinn)” by Bob Dylan. JRAD said their farewells in a grateful manner and hoped to see some familiar faces at their next show in Bend.