In Focus: A Summer of JRAD at Westville Music Bowl

This summer, Joe Russo’s Almost Dead (JRAD) performs monthly at Westville Music Bowl in New Haven, CT. With shows from Memorial Day weekend through September 4, there are ample opportunities to see the fantastic reimaging of the extended Grateful Dead catalog, along with a heavy dose of improvisation.

Revisit the shows below with photos by Vince Brazen, video from the band, and the detailed setlists for each night.

JRAD at Westville Music Bowl – September 4, 2021 Setlist

Set 1: Don’t Ease Me In*> Cats Down Under the Stars w/ Norwegian Wood and Throwing Stones teases> Tell Me, Momma w/ Jessica tease> Mama Tried, Candyman, Jam w/ The Other One tease> Truckin’ w/ The Other One teases and New Speedway teases

Set 2: Feel Like A Stranger> Help on the Way> Throwing Stones w/ Shakedown teases> Shakedown Street W/ throwing Stones teases> Throwing Stones reprise w/ Land Down Under and Shakedown teases, Comfortably Numb> Morning Dew**

Joe thanks the crowd, tells them we all need live music! Dave Niedbalski from Westville Music Bowl/Lovely Day Presents thanks everyone, said it was the best 9 nights of the summer! Then they unveiled a banner from the upper deck commemorating the 9 show residency.

Encore: One More Saturday Night***>Sugar Magnolia

*First since 3/3/19, 5th time played by JRAD
**First time played since 9/13/19
***First time played since 9/14/19

JRAD continued their no repeat streak in their Westville Bowl residency from July 30-August 1. Amid perfect weather all weekend, a nice change of pace from their two previous runs this summer. The partial capacity crowd (~3,000) at Westville had more seating on the floor this weekend, making it feel a little more crowded, but still short of 50% capacity at the tennis stadium.

Saturday’s show had a jam of Pink Floyd’s “Pigs” during “Birdsong,” bassist Dave Dreiwitz singing “Broken Arrow”, and a monster “Terrapin Station” suite to end the second set. The venue erupted during “Sugar Magnolia,” marking 16 sets of no repeat Grateful Dead covers.

JRAD at Westville Music Bowl – July 31, 2021 Setlist

Set 1: Stagger Lee > Stuck Inside of Mobile with the Memphis Blues Again* > West L.A. Fadeaway^ > Unbroken Chain jam > West L.A. Fadeaway > I Need A Miracle@ > Birdsong > Pink Floyd Pigs (Three Different Ones) jam > Birdsong
Set 2: Broken Arrow > Throwing Stones$ > Ship of Fools > Dark Star > Terrapin Station (full suite)
Encore: Sugar Magnolia

*w/ Big Boss Man and Eleanor Rigby teases
^ w/ Uncle John’s Band, Let It Grow and “Your Party” (Ween) teases
@ w/ vocal jam and Dark Star teases
$ w/ 2001 teases and Phishy Duo jam

On Friday, “Jack Straw” > “Wharf Rat” > “King Solomon’s Marbles” closed a strong first set, and they returned with no let up for set two, with a stellar stretch of “Althea” > “Lost Sailor” > “Saint of Circumstance,” and an acoustic “China Doll” as well, featuring Eric Johnson of Fruit Bats taking lead.   

JRAD at Westville Music Bowl – July 30, 2021 Setlist

Set One: Jam -> Friend Of The Devil -> Jack A Roe, Jam -> Black Throated Wind @ -> Jack Straw > Wharf Rat # -> King Solomon’s Marbles
Set Two: MB Solo -> Yazoo St Scandal $ -> Jam % -> Golden Road To Unlimited Devotion, Althea > Lost Sailor ^ > Saint Of Circumstance &, China Doll *+, Box Of Rain *
Encore: Never Been To Spain *, When You Love Somebody * @@

@ – With a Jack Straw Jam
– With Dark Star Teases (TH)
$ – With Tennessee Jed Teases (Band)
% – With “Maze” (Phish) Teases (Band)
^ – With Let It Grow & Playing In the Band Teases (JR)
& – With Terrapin Station Teases (MB & TH) and a “I Can’t Help Myself (Sugar Pie Honey Bunch)” (Four Tops/Holland-Dozier-Holland) Tease (DD)
With Eric D. Johnson (Fruit Bats) on Acoustic Guitar and Vocals
Not Played by Almost Dead since 2017-10-13, Brooklyn Bowl Brooklyn, NY, a gap of 101 shows
@@ – Fruit Bats Cover, Not Played by Almost Dead since 2019-08-16, Greek Theatre, Los Angeles, CA, a gap of 25 shows

Six shows into their run at Westville Music Bowl and JRAD has still not repeated a song. More than 70 songs have been performed since their Memorial Day weekend run, meaning that perhaps, when JRAD returns to Westville July 30-31, they may still continue this streak. To start the night, a 5-piece brass band walked through the crowd towards the stage. Many of them sat in throughout the course of the show, which had four The Band covers, with violinist Katie Jacoby sat in on “Rag Mama Rag.”

JRAD at Westville Music Bowl – June 20, 2021 Setlist

Set 1: Iko Iko, China Cat Sunflower, Ophelia, Operator, Why Don’t We Do It in the Road?, Hard to Handle, Casey Jones

Set 2: Alabama Getaway, Feel Like a Stranger, Mississippi Half-Step Uptown Toodeloo, Good Lovin’, Let it Rock, Road Runner, Rag Mama Rag, Cats Under the Stars, C.C. Rider

Encore: The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down

Highlights from June 19 include JRAD playing the Bob Weir solo tune “Gonesville” as well as working in a few Allman Brothers tunes. “Whipping Post” was teased during “Cumberland Blues” and in Set 2, “In Memory of Elizabeth Reed” got the full band treatment.

JRAD at Westville Music Bowl – June 19, 2021 Setlist

Set 1: Jam ->They Love Each Other ->Gonesville ->Cumberland Blues @, Row Jimmy, Mr. Charlie # ->Viola Lee Blues ->Brown-Eyed Women
Set 2: Jam ->Here Comes Sunshine >Uncle Johns Band, Alligator >Man Smart, Woman Smarter $, In Memory of Elizabeth Reed %, Peggy-O
Encore: Brother Esau
@ – With “Whipping Post” (The Allman Brothers Band) Teases (Band)
# – Unfinished
$ – With a “Reveille” (Traditional) Tease (SM)
% – With Dark Star Teases (TH) & a JR Solo

On June 18, JRAD returned to Westville Music Bowl for their second run of the summer. With five bustouts and covers including “All Along The Watchtower” and “Atlantic City,” a sold out crowd was treated to a rare cover of Warren Zevon’s “Werewolves of London” to close the night.

JRAD at Westville Music Bowl – June 18, 2021 Setlist

Set 1: Jam @ ->New Speedway Boogie # ->Let It Grow, Black Muddy River >All Along The Watchtower$ > Greatest Story Ever Told % -> Dear Prudence Jam -> Greatest Story Ever Told Reprise ^
Set 2: Atlantic City & ->Tell Me Mama * ->Big River, Tennessee Jed +, Cryptical Envelopment @@ ->Crazy Fingers -> The Other One > Stella Blue
Encore: Werewolves Of London ##

@ – With “Spoonful” (Willie Dixon ) Teases & Truckin’ Teases (TH)
# – With a Playing In The Band Jam & Let It Grow Teases (Band)
$ – Scott Vox, Not Played by Almost Dead since 2014-12-29, Capitol Theatre, Port Chester, NY, a gap of 212 shows
% – With a “Dracula” (MMW) Tease (MB)
^ – Not Played by Almost Dead since 2018-03-17 State Theatre, Portland, ME, a gap of 74 shows
& – With “China>Rider Transition” Teases (Band)
* – With a “Chuckles” (Wolf) Tease (SM)
+ – With a Hell In A Bucket Tease (Band) and a bit of a “Becky” (Benevento Russo Duo) reference (MB & JR)
@@ – Part One, With a Dark Star Jam, Not Played by Almost Dead since 2019-03-16 Masonic Auditorium, Cleveland, OH, a gap of 34 shows
## – Not Played by Almost Dead since 2019-03-01 Palace Theater, Albany, NY, a gap of 40 shows

Over three rainy nights at Westville Music Bowl in New Haven, CT, Joe Russo’s Almost Dead (JRAD) brought music back to life and satiated sold-out crowds with their improvisational takes on the music of the Grateful Dead.

JRAD at Westville Music Bowl – May 28, 2021 Setlist

Set 1: Not Fade Away@ -> Ruben & Cherise -> New Minglewood Blues, Sugaree#, The Wheel$ ->Touch Of Grey%
Set 2: When I Paint My Masterpiece^, Foolish Heart& -> Help On The Way -> Slipknot!* -> Hey Bulldog Jam+ -> Slipknot! Reprise, Hell In A Bucket, Dancing in the Street@@, Ripple##
Encore: Fuckin’ Up $$
@ – With a “Serpentine Fire” (Earth Wind & Fire) tease (SM)
# – Not played by Almost Dead since 2018-01-13
$ – With a “Cold Rain & Snow” Jam (Band)
% – With “Ruben & Cherise” Teases in the intro (TH)
^ – Bob Dylan Cover, second time played. Not played by Almost Dead since 2016-11-12
& – With Slipknot! Teases (TH)
* – With a “Tom’s Diner” (Suzanne Vega) Tease (SM & JR)
+ – With some lyrics. Not played by Almost Dead since 2016-11-12
@@ – Proceeded by a Dark Star Tease, with a Loose Lucy Tease (SM), a DD Solo, an MB Solo, hints of “The Wizard” (Black Sabbath), and a JR Solo
## – Not played by Almost Dead since 2019-01-18
$$ – Neil Young Cover, with Chris Harford on Vocals and Guitar

JRAD at Westville Music Bowl – May 29, 2021 Setlist

Set 1: Silvio ->Bertha, Me & My Uncle ->Shakedown Street@, Black Peter# >Music Never Stopped
Set 2: Such A Night, Cream Puff War >Truckin$ -> New Speedway Jam% -> Truckin Reprise^ ->St. Stephen& >Tough Mama > I Know You Rider
Encore: On The Road Again *
@ – With Let It Grow Teases (Band)
# – Not played by Almost Dead since 2018-07-19
$ – With a Cryptical Tease (TH)
% – Not played by Almost Dead since 2017-08-31
^ – Not played by Almost Dead since 2018-07-19
& – With Not Fade Away and Good Times Bad Times Teases (JR) and a Caution-esque Jam
* – Not played by Almost Dead since 2016-12-29

JRAD at Westville Music Bowl – May 30, 2021 Setist

Set 1: Eyes of the World> Estimated Prophet, Cassidy > Going Down the Road Feelin’ Bad > Candyman, The Eleven, Franklin’s Tower
Set 2: Scarlet Begonias > Fire on the Mountain, Beat It on Down the Line, He’s Gone >Playing in the Band, Samson and Delilah
Encore: Born to Run

Stuart Bogie sat in on saxophone and flute throughout the night

Joe Russo's Almost DeadJRADwestville music bowl