Skull & Roses Festival 2022 | Day 4

Article Contributed by L. Paul Mann | Published on Thursday, April 21, 2022

The final day of Skull and Roses 2022 dawned, revealing an overcast windless sky, which was a welcome respite from the hot, windy conditions from the days before. When Keller Williams and Grateful Grass took the stage in the early afternoon, the sun began to peek through the clouds revealing a vast crowd assembled for the festival finale. Williams, a well-known singer, songwriter, and musician who combines elements of bluegrass, folk, alternative rock, EDM, jazz, funk, and other musical genres, could put together a captivating performance on his own. The talented singer plays guitar, bass guitar, percussion, theremin, synthesizer, piano, and other instruments. Williams played as a member of the Rhythm Devils with Grateful Dead drummers Bill Kreutzmann and Mickey Hart, glorifying him in the Dead world as a bonafide member of the extended family.

Keller Williams' Grateful Grass | Ventura, CA

The talented musician formed Grateful Grass to play new interpretations of Grateful Dead songs done in a bluegrass style. The result was a psychedelic improvisational bluegrass music group. The band played a 90-minute dance-inducing set of foot-stomping Grateful Dead covers. The crowd responded with a mass dance along to the well-known tunes in the 11-song setlist. The set included a cover of the Jerry Garcia classic “Sugaree” and ended with a blazing version of the Dead classic “Shakedown Street,” which sent the crowd into a further frenzied dance trance.

The Soul Rebels | Ventura, CA

Having solved the technical problems from the night before, the revolving stage was back on track, revealing seamless music from Grateful Grass to the Soul Rebels. Another fixture at the Skull and Roses Festival, The New Orleans-based Soul Rebels, is an eight-piece brass band that fuses soul, jazz, funk, hip-hop, rock, and pop music. The day's theme was Mardi Gras, with many festival-goers dressing in appropriate Bourbon Street attire. The band offered up a perfect backdrop offering a ninety-minute set of dance-inducing funky jazz rhythms. The group even played a fantastic reimagined version of the Eurythmics classic “Sweet Dreams.”

Phil Lesh | Ventura, CA

Finally, the band most everyone in the crowd had been anxiously anticipating since the start of the festival arrived on stage just after 5.30. A beaming Phil Lesh sauntered onstage and donned his bass, which caused the tightly packed crowd to erupt in a huge cheer. The rest of the band joined him, including Stu Allen, Grahame Lesh, Jason Crosby & John Molo. The band performed a nine-song main set of primarily Grateful Dead classics, mixed with a few related covers. As the first few notes of every new song drifted across the fairgrounds, the crowd would erupt in a euphoric cheer. Songs like 'Mississippi Half-Step Uptown Toodeloo" and “Franklin’s Tower” had many singing along to every word in the crowd. The band ended their main set and briefly left the stage.

Skull & Roses Festival - Ventura, CA

After an enormous cheer from the crowd, the band returned and rewarded them with a four-song mini-set encore. By the end of the set, generations of Deadheads were beaming big smiles in the crowd. Many of them were near tears as the reality of spending the afternoon with living legend Phil Lesh, and his band of veteran musicians began to sink in. Skull and Roses will have quite a challenge to top this year's festival. But they have risen to the challenge before, so who knows what 2023 will bring to the prestigious festival.

Phil Lesh & Friends | Skull & Roses Festival

Thank you, Dennis McNally for putting together such a great Dead friendly fest

Phil Lesh & Friends about to take the stage

Skull & Roses Festival - photos by L. Paul Mann

Keller Williams' Grateful Grass | Ventura, CA

Phil's Setlist:

Mississippi Half-Step Uptown Toodeloo

Franklin's Tower

Iko Iko

St. Stephen

King Solomon's Marbles

West L.A. Fadeaway

Crazy Fingers

Viola Lee Blues

Not Fade Away


Help on the Way


Standing on the Moon

Uncle John's Band