There is nothing like the magic of the Capitol Theatre to bring out the best in anything related to the Grateful Dead. This was certainly the case for drummer Bill Kreutzmann with Billy & the Kids on October 20, 2023, which was night one of his two-night “Daze of the Dead, Part 1: Trick" stand. The Kids included numerous jam rock veterans like guitarist Tom Hamilton (JRAD, Ghost Light), keyboardist Aron Magner (Disco Biscuits, Spaga), bassist Reed Mathis (Tea Leaf Green, Jacob Fred Jazz Odyssey), guitarist Brad Barr (The Slip, Barr Brothers), and drummer Andrew Barr (The Slip, Barr Brothers). The show included a special set break dedication to Capitol Theatre head usher Brian Lynch, who celebrated 1000 shows working at the famed venue.
The first set kicked off with The Who's "The Kids Are Alright," and the Kids were indeed quite alright playing with the legendary Billy K on this beautiful evening. An electrifying "St. Stephen" followed, which descended into a mellow, bluesy jam before amping up at end. A drum-fueled, fourteen-minute "Eyes of the World" followed, with vocals by Hamilton. Magner layered in the keys perfectly. The driving drumbeats lead this upbeat, smiley tune back into "Eyes of the World," as the crowd collectively feeling alright.
The melodic Bob Dylan cover "She Belongs to Me," proceeded, and gave the band a breather after the prior intensity. The classic bluesy rock tune "Beat It on Down the Line," by Jesse Fuller, brought life back into the Cap. Another Dead staple, "Mama Tried," by Merle Haggard continued this heat, as the crowd was dancing up a storm, Hamilton started to kick into face-melting mode.
Another iconic Dead tune, "Jack Straw" proceeded, though started out at a slower cadence. Magner's solo kicked the song into high gear and really elevated the music as this group started to gel. The set was not quite over, as the penultimate "Row Jimmy" turned into a gigantic sing-along for the crowd. The intensity fired up once more for this stacked first set with the first time played "Let's Spend the Night Together" by the Rolling Stones.
The band took a short break, and as they stepped away, the staff of the Cap brought out balloons that spelled 1000. Images of usher Brian Lynch were projected on the wall. After a few minutes, owner Peter Shapiro appeared on stage with Lynch and another Cap staff member carrying a cake. He proceeded to announce that this was the 1000th show for the head usher who has been at the venue since reopening in 2012. He then brought Billy K out on stage, and presented a special trophy to him, acknowledging that he created many of the beats that we know and love today. This was truly a special moment for the Cap, fans, and of course, Billy K and his band. Huge props to Shapiro for representing the fans with perfection.
The music began again with a tasty drum solo, the care of Billy K and Andrew Barr. This transitioned into a spirited "Scarlet Begonias," with Hamilton handling the vocals for this beloved Grateful Dead tune. The jam developed some legs before mellowing out, and slowly meandering into "Friend of the Devil." The sing-a-long rolled on with "Ramble on Rose."
Another first time played tune, "A Hard Rain's A-Gonna Fall" by Bob Dylan, jumped into the set. Mathis contributed vocals, along with stellar bass during the bluesy jam that followed. The percussion was particularly well played. The set closed out with a psychedelic "Fire on the Mountain."
This band was not done quite yet, and returned to the stage with the crowd yelling for more. They obliged with Eric Clapton's "Lay Down Sally," another first-time played cover. The show wrapped up with the reflective "Ripple."
Billy K and his talented band Billy and the Kids are back in action on October 31, 2023, at the Mountain Winery in Saratoga, CA. Tickets are sold out but can be procured via Cash or Trade. Hop on over to his page for more details.
Set One: The Kids Are Alright1, St. Stephen1, Eyes of the World, She Belongs to Me1, Beat It on Down the Line, Mama Tried, Jack Straw, Row Jimmy1, Let's Spend the Night Together1
Set Two: Drums > Scarlet Begonias, Friend of the Devil, Ramble On Rose, A Hard Rain's A-Gonna Fall1, Fire on the Mountain
Encore: Lay Down Sally1, Ripple
Notes: 1 - First time played by this group