When you’re from NJ, getting to Brooklyn is just slightly more problematic than going to Europe. Getting there takes about 2-3 hours longer than getting home since JRAD typically plays until after 1:00 AM. Once you arrive at Brooklyn Bowl, the trip is always well worth it. The vibe is filled with love and all the usual suspects are typically in attendance. For those of us that spent our youth at Wetlands, it’s really like Wetlands grew up, went to school and became the Brooklyn Bowl. Shap and Charley Ryan, who helped run Wetlands, really took so much of what was offered there and expanded on the concept. The combination of Music Venue/Bowling Alley is kinda fucked up. If you think of what a bowling alley sounds like and then think, “We should have concerts here at the same time! Put the stage right next to the lanes!” It might sound like an awful idea. The bigger bands typically don’t have to contend with the sound of pins colliding since the bowling area turns into a VIP Lounge equipped with its own bar stations and screens used to enhance the visual stimulation of the events. The visuals and lighting are outstanding and run by the venue’s Visual Master, Victor Cornette. The venue just got a new D&B sound system a couple of weeks ago and former Brooklyn Bowl Production manager, Pete Costello, who now manages JRAD, had the sound in that place dialed in. The coverage throughout the venue was much fuller than it had been previously and areas by the bowling lanes that used to have some sound deficits were definitely improved. Big thanks to Andrew Blackstein who provided the pictures! I wanted to give a shout out to some folks behind the scenes that don’t typically get acknowledged for their roles in making awesome shit happen! Thanks y’all!
One thing music venues and bowling alleys typically have in common is bad food. That’s not the case at BB. Make sure you come early and hungry because the food rocks too! The fried chicken and ribs are outstanding and the collard greens are some of the best around!
It’s been pretty apparent for a while that there’s a new sheriff rising up in Grateful Dead Land. As our favorite musicians are on an incredible run with Dead & Company and demand for all things Dead is on the rise, Joe Russo is the Deputy that’s coming closer every day to his official promotion to Sheriff. If the sluggish tempos associated with Dead & Company are bothersome to you, Joe Russo’s Almost Dead is definitely the answer to your bothersomeness. I think I just made up a word. JRAD kinda proves that most of us really dig heavy metal. They play Dead music like Aerosmith or Guns N Roses would. With a few years of practice behind them now, JRAD has become capable of producing multiple moments a night when the combination and magnitude of sounds far exceed the number of musicians playing them. They have the ability to drive your mind and your thoughts in one direction while taking you someplace completely different. Total musical Okie doke! They expand the level of uncertainty regarding preconceived expectations and provide a product that goes places that are new and invigorating. They’re taking the music to a place it hasn’t been, in a way that reaches the depths of our musical pasts while providing something completely new at the same time. When I look at the trajectory of bands that are currently making waves within our musical scene, JRAD is a tsunami among a lot of ripples. When it comes to bands playing the Dead’s music, without any of the original members, if you want your music to sound like The Grateful Dead, when the Grateful Dead were playing it, DSO leads the pack. If you want an experience that breaks the mold in a way that drives you into a state of adrenaline induced ecstasy, JRAD has risen to the top of the heap without anyone, that I know of, in close proximity. For those that like to see them in places like The Brooklyn Bowl, I imagine these days are coming to an end before long. JRAD is quickly outgrowing some of the venues that have fostered their progress.
Brooklyn Bowl has served as the uterus for the creation and development of JRAD since their first show there in January of 2013. The seed that was planted that day has received all of the elements that were required for its eventual and currently thriving condition. The band took the stage at about 9:30 and started with a little jam that was like throwing a few logs on a small flame in order to make a bonfire. It quickly turned into “I Need a Miracle” and kicked off another powerful night for the band and us fans. The band is made up of a tremendous cast of characters. This group is sounding so good that Scott Metzger can’t stop smiling! That brother has a Weir like scowl a lot of the time but I imagine it’s getting easier to pay the rent with every day that passes. Shit like that will definitely make ya smile a little more. My grandma used to wear these housecoats every day. She’d reach in the pocket and give ya a butterscotch or some kind of candy that old ladies always carry. I wondered what happened to all her housecoats after she died. Apparently, Tom Hamilton bought em all at a thrift store. Dude rocks my grandma’s housecoats like nobody else could. I’m not sure if he needs a longer nose or shorter songs but that fucker jams so hard he plays the glasses right off of his face. He didn’t let up on the Brown Eyed Women jams due to some sliding glasses! The way he jams, maybe we can get him a prescription diving mask to keep that from happening. There’s plenty of solutions but I think it’s cooler that he’s not interested in seeking any!
Dave combines some great bass playing with some of the most uncoordinated dancing you can imagine. It’s incredible how he can play in perfect rhythm but moves like he has no rhythm at all. I’ve become accustomed to Oteil the last couple of years but I realize everyone can’t be like Jam Band Beyonce Burbridge. Dave has a good gig with Ween that seems to take precedence. I guess they all have other gigs but I think JRAD is growing much faster than any of their other gigs. This side gig may become the main gig pretty soon. On keys, you need a guy like Marco because at least one person in a rock band should have long hair. That brother is as talented as he is fun. He plays musical jokes throughout the show and if you listen closely you can hear licks from all over your past in his playing. Then you have Joe Russo. That brother has figured out a way to have a band with a drummer right up front instead of on a big ass shelf behind all the action. I guarantee ya he never goes to bed thinking about any notes that he might have left out. I wonder how long you can play that hard. He’s busier than Casino Carpets. If you like a lot of notes, you definitely love Joe. Listening to him makes me wonder what it might sound like if Tony Royster Jr. or Dave Weckl played Dead Music.
I may be joking around a little but the music these guys are making is no joke! This isn’t music that’s too easy to experience for people with bad hips and knees. Unless you’re in decent shape, you’re gonna need a few breathers during the course of a night. If Joe wore a Fitbit, I imagine he would play about 75 miles of music in a night. This band is definitely the future leaders of Grateful Dead Musical Culture and for many, they’re the present as well. The transitions between songs like Playin-> Eyes-> Dancin-> Brown Eyed Women-> Eyes-> Brown Eyed Women were so packed with excitement and originality that enthusiasm and smiles spread through Brooklyn Bowl quicker than mysterious skin rashes in cheap hotel jacuzzis. The fanbase is crazy about the music and the energy in BB was stellar. There seems to be no such thing as an off night for JRAD. They’re playing with incredible consistency every time they take the stage. I’ve seen countless bands over the years that create unique setlists from Grateful Dead songs but JRAD is in another dimension with their approach to the material.
The second set started at exactly 11:36. As a parent with young kids, I was already shot for tomorrow which is currently today. Uncle John’s started things off but was pretty easily forgotten when compared to the rest of the set. The jams that followed included a version of the Other One that if labeled properly would look like Other One-> Money(Pink Floyd)-> Swingtown(Steve Miller)-> Other One-> Carmen Miranda’s complete Brazilian samba repetoir-> Other One-> Cryptical! Mama mia what a series of jams! The Terrapin Suite that followed visited completely new territory while regularly maintaining contact with the familiar sounds that have always been found there. I would encourage you to check it out if you haven’t already. Then in a display of pure fitness, they encored with Samson and Delilah. While it seemed a little abbreviated compared to the rest of the songs in the second set, it maintained the power and textured excellence of the rest of the night.
I have to get going but I’ll say in closing, you definitely want to experience JRAD if you haven’t already. It won’t take long for you to believe the hype. This is a group of outstanding musicians and really fun human beings. They’re obviously having a blast bringing totally new life to the greatest old songs in history. They are quickly moving up the ladder of mass appeal and it won’t be long before thousands of people will be complaining about their ticket prices and availability. They sold out these 6 nights at the BB in a matter of seconds and it didn’t take too much longer to sell out 3 nights at The Cap in January. The potential for greatness that this band possessed was evident early on. After almost 5 years now, that potential is being fully realized and it’s pretty exciting to witness the rise of something like JRAD. If you ask me, five years from now we might be seeing JRAD on New Year’s Eve at the Barclays Center. We’ll be the older farts in the crowd saying we remember seeing them at Brooklyn Bowl! Love You Long Time! I gotta split!
Dead To The Core,
Dean Sottile (pronounced So Tilly)
@gd50th on Twitter
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