On Saturday night Grateful Shred, an Americana Grateful Dead tribute act from Los Angeles, came to Pappy & Harriet’s in Pioneertown, CA to Steal the Face off of the High Desert. Pappy & Harriet’s is a gem of Southern California, holding a whopping 300 people on the indoor stage and having hosted rock-and-roll legends Robert Plant, Eric Burdon, Leon Russell, and most recently Sir Paul McCartney who played an impromptu intimate show in between his legendary performances at Desert Trip 50 miles down the road. The venue is situated at the end of Pioneertown’s Mane St., a tiny live-in old-west motion-picture set built in 1940’s by Roy Rodgers, Gene Autry, and other Hollywood developers and investors and is still inhabited today just as it was then. Grateful Shred consisted on this night of Sam Balsucci (Guitar/Vox), Austin McCutchen (Guitar/Vox), Clay Finch (Guitar/Bass/Vox), Dan Horne, also known for his work with Circles Around the Sun and Jonathan Wilson, (Bass/Pedal Steel/Vox), Jerry Borge (Keys), Dusty Ineman (Percussion), and Austin Beade (Drums).
The place filled in as show time neared and as patrons lucky enough to arrive early finished off their chili, BBQ, or TexMex, all of which Pappy & Harriet’s is famous for. Mapache started the evening with an acoustic duo set by Blasucci and Finch. Finch and Blasucci would return to the stage with the rest of Grateful Shred for the two-set performance. Accessing a full repertoire of songs from the Dead’s 60’s and 70’s catalogue, Grateful Shred’s sound is Workingman’s Dead incarnate, focusing more on the Folk and Americana elements on the Dead and less on the electrified Psychedelic, Progressive, Jazz, or Funk/Disco influences. Grateful Shred jumped right into the action with “Jack Straw”, giving each of the musicians on stage a chance to shine right off the bat. Many surprised smiles circulated throughout the crowd with the Johnny Cash original “Big River”, a fitting tune for the Whiskey-Rock-and-Roll crowd of Pappy and Harriet’s. “Friend of the Devil” and “Dire Wolf” gave the band a chance to stretch their vocal harmonies and set the stage for the set closing rockers “Don’t Ease Me In” and “Cumberland Blues”.
The second set opened with a pristine take on the Blues for Allah opening “Help on the Way” > “Slipknot!” > “Franklin’s Tower”. As the crowd finished singing along to the chorus “…roll away…the dew”, Grateful Shred offered the second pleasant surprise of the evening with a rollicking version on the Pigpen original “Operator”. True to Grateful Dead form, Grateful Shred used the second set for a bit more exploration and experimentation, and there are perhaps no better vehicles for improvisation than the next song “Help on the Way”. With a silky keys solo by Borge a some jazzy improvisation, Help then ushered in “Drums” by Ineman and Beade. The percussive interlude led the group right into a spirited rendering of the The Crickets original “Not Fade Away”. In quintessential Deadhead fashion, the crowd “helped” keep time with the traditional rhythmic clapping to close out the song and leave room for the band to start the second definitive segue of the set, “China Cat Sunflower” > “I Know you Rider”. “Shakedown Street” as always was a welcome number where the disco hustle was broken up by a spacey jam interlude, and preceded the set closing Weir classic “One More Saturday Night”. Grateful Shred returned to the stage to a chorus of cheers after a brief respite, and delivered a high energy “Scarlet Begonias” > “Fire on the Mountain” sing-along encore. The band bid the crowd a good night and the concertgoers scattered off into the desert night.
Be sure to catch Grateful Shred this summer/fall in the Southwest, including hosting the LA Celebration for Jerry Garcia’s 75th Birthday at the Teragram Ballroom on August 1.
August 1 | Teragram Ballroom | Los Angeles, CA |
August 6 | The Chapel | San Francisco, CA |
August 9 | Brooklyn Bowl | Las Vegas, NV|
September 2 | Casbah | San Diego, CA |
September 15 | The Van Buren | Phoenix, AZ |
September 16 | The Flycatcher| Tucson, AZ |