Grateful Dead drummer Bill Kreutzmann brought his Billy & The Kids ensemble back to Red Rocks Amphitheatre in Morrison, Colorado on Tuesday for a second “Dead On The Rocks” concert featuring guitarist Billy Strings and saxophonist James Casey. The evening also included guest spots from Greensky Bluegrass mandolinist Paul Hoffman and Thievery Corporation‘s Jeff Franca.
The six musicians took the stage in front of a capacity crowd and opened with “Dear Mr. Fantasy.” Billy Strings handled lead vocals on the Traffic cover as well as on the coda of The Beatles’ “Hey Jude” that followed. Next, guitarist Tom Hamilton had his first turn in the spotlight for “Cassidy” before sharing vocals with Strings on “Jack Straw.” Then, James Casey fronted the group on the Jerry Garcia Band repertoire staple “My Sisters & Brothers.”
Next, Hamilton greeted the audience and welcomed Paul Hoffman to the stage. “He’s got this upstart band and we think they’re gonna go somewhere. This is his big break,” Tommy joked. Hoffman added mandolin to Strings-sung takes on “Me & My Uncle,” “Mama Tried” and “Dire Wolf.” Billy & The Kids, Billy Strings and James Casey then went it alone to end the set with a blazing, 13-minute “Shakedown Street” featuring Hamilton on lead vocals.
The ensemble covered The Who’s “Join Together” to kick off the final set of the run. Strings sang the cover which bled into a “Franklin’s Tower” led by Hamilton. Billy Strings was then back in the forefront on an acoustic “To Lay Me Down,” another emotional high point of “Dead On The Rocks.” The ensemble went on to extend “That’s What Love Will Make You Do” and played the “Help On The Way”/”Slipknot!” pairing hinted at by the earlier “Franklin’s.” Members of the band worked many teases into the mix including a bit of Phish’s “First Tube.” Next, bassist Reed Mathis and keyboardist Aron Magner shared lead vocals on a rousing “The Music Never Stopped” before Strings strapped on an acoustic for “Peggy-O.”
Last night’s second set ended with Casey handling lead vocals on The Beatles’ “Dear Prudence” and Billy Strings singing his heart out on “Brokedown Palace.” Jeff Franca emerged with Bill Kreutzmann to begin the encore with a “Drums” segment. Then, the rest of the band returned for the beloved “Terrapin Station.” The evening ended with “I Know You Rider” featuring a taste of “Thunder.” Kreutzmann and his crew opened the first night of the run with “China Cat Sunflower” making “I Know You Rider” the perfect bookend to a memorable two nights at Red Rocks.
Watch pro-shot video featuring the beginning of each set via FANS:
Stream an audience recording of last night’s show tapped by Bennett Schwartz:
Setlist (via Setlist.FM)
Set One: Dear Mr. Fantasy > Hey Jude (Coda), Cassidy > Jack Straw, My Sisters & Brothers, Me & My Uncle (w/ Paul Hoffman), Mama Tried (w/ Paul Hoffman), Dire Wolf (w/ Paul Hoffman), Shakedown Street
Set Two: Join Together > Franklin’s Tower, To Lay Me Down, That’s What Love Will Make You Do, Help On The Way > Slipknot! > The Music Never Stopped > Peggy-O > Dear Prudence, Brokedown Palace
Encore (w/ Jeff Franca): Drums, Terrapin Station > I Know You Rider