It was a family affair at the Westville Music Bowl in New Haven, CT for Joe Russo's Almost Dead on May 13, 2023, as the daughters of both Joe Russo and Marco Benevento joined the band on stage during this late spring, pre-Mother's Day event. This show marked the first show on the Westville's calendar for 2023, and had over 4600 fans in attendance for this most righteous Dead cover band.
The evening's festivities began on a lovely New England afternoon. The band took the stage around 6:15pm, and wasted no time by diving into an exploratory build up prior to "Eyes of the World." Drummer Joe Russo dug into deep percussion early, and keyboardist Marco Benevento unfurled a beautiful sequence on the piano. A bluesy jam ensued, followed by a funky transition into "The Music Never Stopped." The vibe became mellow as the music flowed into a "Black Peter" tease, but quickly picked up, with a raging guitar jam via guitarists Tom Hamilton and Scott Metzger back into "The Music Never Stopped."
Joe Russo welcomed his two young daughters with pint-sized guitars on stage before the band performed "Here Comes The Sun" for the first time. Both Russo and Hamilton contributed vocals to this classic Beatles' tune. The girls remained for the rest of the set, and unleashed a few rock star moves of their own.
A very spacey jam lead into "Estimated Prophet," proceeded by a layered jam, with notable contributions by Metzger. A slower, more melodic improvisational section gave way for an edgy jam into "The Wheel," with an emphasis by bassist Dave Dreiwitz. Both Dreiwitz and Hamilton raced through an incredible build up that transformed into a perfectly placed "Real Morning Party" tease, which is a song by Benevento. The music rolled into a deliciously psychedelic "Uncle John's Band," before these fine musicians stopped for a breath of air. With Russo like a freight train on the drums, "Bertha," was up next, and concluded this stellar set.
The band returned for round two, and picked up where they left off with "St. Stephen." This raging opener lead into more improvisational pleasantries on the piano by Benevento. The guitars elevated this jam, ushering the music back into "St. Stephen," before a face melting segue into "I Need a Miracle." I need a miracle everyday, indeed. The crowd assisted Metzger with these famous lyrics, followed by a boot scooting, bluesy breakdown. The music rolled into a euphonious "Ramble On Rose," with a breezy jam by Hamilton.
More psychedelic goodness emerged with "Scarlet Begonias," which flowed into a reggae inspired improvisation that was almost spooky at times. Benevento's daughters Illa and Ruby joined their father on the keys as the band moved into a heated "Fire on the Mountain." The layers of piano brought a huge smile to proud papa Benevento. This tune was all Hamilton, from the soulful vocals to the galvanized jam. After returning to "Scarlet Begonias," Russo announced, "It's daughter night here at JRAD. Big hand for Illa and Ruby Benevento. It's feeling like Father's Day on Mother's Day. We're just lucky to be here. Happy Mother's Day."
The music was not over quite yet, as this talented bunch served up a monster, sixteen minute "Throwing Stones" that went into type two territory. A melodious jam skillfully jettisoned back into "Throwing Stones." The set ended on the heart felt "So Many Roads." The band returned to play a high energy "Good Lovin," which returned to "The Wheel," before ending the show with an affirmative bang.
Joe Russo's Almost Dead always brings fresh jams and vibrant tunes. We as fans are extremely lucky to experience music from them with their children, on top of that. They are back in action on June 3 - 4 at Red Rocks Amphitheater in Morrison, Co. Head on over to their tour page for more details on their summer tour.
Check out more photos from the show!
Set One: Eyes of the World -> The Music Never Stopped1, Here Comes the Sun23, Estimated Prophet -> The Wheel45 > Uncle John's Band, Bertha
Set Two: St. Stephen > I Need A Miracle > Ramble On Rose, Scarlet Begonias -> Fire on the Mountain6, Throwing Stones > So Many Roads
Encore: Good Lovin7
1. Black Peter tease
2. First time played
3. With Joe Russo's daughters
4. The Real Morning Party tease
5. Here Comes the Sun tease
6. With Illa and Ruby Benevento
7. The Wheel tease