Billy & The Kids featuring Grateful Dead drummer Bill Kreutzmann, bassist Reed Mathis, The Disco Biscuits keyboardist Aron Magner and Joe Russo’s Almost Dead/Ghost Light guitarist Tom Hamilton as well as special guests guitarist Billy Strings and saxophonist James Casey of the Trey Anastasio Band played their first of two sold-out “Dead On The Rocks” concerts at Red Rocks Amphitheatre on Monday night. The evening at the iconic Morrison, Colorado venue also included cameos from Jeff Franca and The String Cheese Incident‘s Jason Hann.
Last night marked the first public Billy & The Kids’ performance since the 2016 Wanee Festival. However, Strings and Casey did team with the quartet in May for the “Grateful Mahalo: Billy Kreutzmann’s 75th Birthday Pa’ina” livestream concert specials filmed in Kauai, Hawaii.
Hamilton led the group through “China Cat Sunflower” to begin Monday’s first of two sets. The sextet jammed “China Cat” into “Thunder,” a song featuring music penned by Billy Strings and lyrics by the late Robert Hunter. At various points, Strings utilized a guitar from the early-1960s that his grandfather made in prison. Next, Mathis handled lead vocals on “Brown Eyed Women” and James Casey showed off his pipes on “Ain’t No Bread In The Breadbox.” The latter gave way to a cover of Phish’s “Back On The Train” sung by Strings before the ensemble closed the frame with a run of “Deal,” “Positively 4th Street” and “Feel Like A Stranger.” Members of the band continued to swap vocal duties as Hamilton sang “Deal,” Strings fronted “Positively 4th Street” and Magner channeled Bob Weir on “Feel Like A Stranger.”
Monday’s second set opened with a lengthy “Scarlet Begonias” featuring Tom Hamilton on lead vocals. The band jammed “Scarlet” into Jimmy Cliff’s “Sitting In Limbo.” Billy Strings sang the latter before Hamilton returned to the spotlight for “Eyes Of The World.” From there, Billy & The Kids and friends worked “The Other One” within “Bird Song.” An emotional high point came next as Strings belted out “So Many Roads” ahead of a rousing “Wake Up Little Suzie” to end the set.
Jason Hann and Jeff Franca emerged for the evening’s encore. Kreutzmann, Hann and Franca kicked off the encore with a “Drums” segment that bled into “Fire On The Mountain.” Strings then fronted the group on the “U.S. Blues” finale. Billy & The Kids, Billy Strings and James Casey return to Red Rocks tonight to cap the “Dead On The Rocks” run. A livestream is available via FANS.
Watch pro-shot video featuring the start of each set thanks to FANS:
Here’s a series of fan-shot videos captured by Music City Maven:
Setlist (via Setlist.FM)
Set One: China Cat Sunflower > Thunder, Brown Eyed Women, Ain’t No Bread In The Breadbox > Back On The Train, Deal, Positively 4th Street, Feel Like A Stranger
Set Two: Scarlet Begonias > Sitting In Limbo, Eyes Of The World > Bird Song > The Other One > Bird Song, So Many Roads, Wake Up Little Suzie
Encore (w/ Jeff Franca & Jason Hann): Drums > Fire On The Mountain, U.S. Blues