Lions On The Moon, Billy & The Kids ‘The Kids Are Alright’ at the Capitol Theatre

As the doors opened to the historic Capitol Theatre in Portchester, NY your expected throng of dead heads waiting outside to get a spot on rail rushed inside the venue. Little did they know they were going to be treated to a full-blown rock show by openers Lions On The Moon. When you read about a band comprised of four young men ranging in ages 12 to 16 you may think it is a gimmick, but these four are far from that. Formed in spring of 2014, the band –  Brandon “Taz” Neiderauer (lead guitar, vocals), Nicky Dylan Winegardner (lead vocals, guitar), Dylan Niederauer (bass), Henry Thomas (drums) these four play with the precision and chops that you would expect from a veteran headlining band.

Winegardner led the group on electric guitar through “Where Did We Go Right” and “Only Fun,” two original tunes before switching over to his acoustic guitar for “On Your Feet.” From there 12-year-old guitar prodigy generally referred to by his nickname “Taz” took over on vocals for his original penned tuned, the self titled “Lions On The Moon” inspired by The Nth Power’s “Walk on Water.” Winegardner went back to his electric guitar for “Party Mardi Gras” which featured bassist Dylan Neiderauer laying down some smooth, deep, melodic bass lines. Lions followed up with a soulful cover of Stevie Wonder’s “Higher Ground” propelled by Thomas’ fast rhythmic drumming. What came next seemed to be a treat equally appreciated by the audience and the young band as they were joined on stage by pedal steel aficionado Robert Randolph for The Allman Brothers’ “Whipping Post,” which featured a shredding guitar solo by “Taz” as he walked across the stage and played face to face with the veteran Randolph. Lions capped off their set with the original tune “Guitarmageddon” which sounded like it was penned by a group of young adults who still know how to have fun, not only on stage but in their song writing as well.

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The headliner, Billy & The Kids, with only their third live performance as a supergroup, was put together by Grateful Dead drummer Bill Kreutzmann. Kreutzmann called on Tom Hamilton (guitar, Brothers Past/JRAD), Reed Mathis (bass, Tea Leaf Green), and Aron Magner (keyboard, The Disco Biscuits) to put a new spin on classic dead songs, and more specifically on this night songs from the classic Europe ’72 tour. The constant theme for the night was apparent right from the set opening “Cumberland Blues” each artist would add a little bit of their own style while keeping true to the original tune. Mathis took the lead right out the gate and seemed to be the stand out of the first set taking the lead on vocals for many of the tracks. Kreutzmann led his band through classic tunes  “Tennessee Jed” and “Brown Eyed Woman” with Mathis taking the lead on vocals for both. “China Cat Sunflower” came next and led us through our first fully improvised jam of the night with Magner and Hamilton taking this one out for a long walk and bringing it back only to seamlessly segue into “Cassidy” followed by “I Know You Rider.” The group was finally joined on stage by announced guest for the night Robert Randolph who jumped right on his Pedal Steel and worked an instrumental version of “Not Fade Away.” Randolph then took the lead on the first set closer, and rarely covered Huey Smith’s “Rockin’ Pneumonia And The Boogie Woogie Flu.” This track was only covered by the Grateful Dead five times, all on their Europe ’72 tour.
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The second set opened with just the core members of Billy & The Kids on stage with “Cold Rain and Snow” which had the crowd instantly back in the groove and singing along right out of the gate. It didn’t take long for Robert Randolph to join back on stage for “Dire Wolf” and “Sitting on Top of the World” which again featured Mathis working the vocals and his bass  to steal the attention away from the rest of the band, they then segued into “Big River.” Randolph once again took the lead on “Hey Bo Diddley “> “Who Do You Love,” providing high kick dance moves and alternate lyrics “Just playing here with Billy & The Kids” shining a light on Kreutzmann who showed he hasn’t lost a step with a roaring drum solo and a smile ear to ear.

Mathis once again took the lead for “Ramble on Rose” before turning over the reigns to Hamilton on “Bertha” which featured the first stand-out keyboard solo of the night by Magner, showing everyone what he is truly capable of. Hamilton led the way through the remainder of the second set with  “Loser” >” Deal” > “Loser” and “Casey Jones.” All five came back on stage for an encore performance of “Brokedown Palace” each member of the band took a turn with a verse before the drove it home with the full ensemble closing out the night. Fare Thee Well, Billy & The Kids will next be playing “Spring 1990” at Red Rocks amphitheater in Morrison, CO on April 20 and will return to the east coast for Peach Fest where they will be joined by Grateful Dead guitarist Bob Weir.

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