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Joe Russo’s Almost Dead

H/T: Ed A.

Anything is complicated if you think about it long enough. Take tribute bands, for instance.

In some cases, it’s easy. But what about a Grateful Dead tribute band? Of course, many bands can do a terrific “Box of Rain” or “Sugar Magnolia.” But, at a deeper level, the Grateful Dead were the prototype jam band. That meant that the music changed from show to show. So the tribute band has to copy what in essence was meant never to be the same from one performance to the next anyway.

Of course, it’s also possible to just shut up and enjoy the music.

These folks are Joe Russo’s Almost Dead. This video is “Scarlet Begonias” and “Fire on the Mountain.” I am no musician, but they seem to be the class of the Dead tribute bands. The sense I get is that they are doing something original with the music, not just trying to sound like Jerry and the boys. They also show a tremendous amount of exuberance, which really is the key ingredient.

In fact, Bob Weir sat in which them, which pretty much seals the deal.


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Here’s What’s Here

The Daily Music Break explores every genre of music, from hip hop to opera. It's simple: Boundaries are dumb. It's all good. Here is more about the site and here is our index:

--A Tribe Called Quest to The Dick Hyman Trio (In other words, A to H)

--Indigo Girls to Queen Ida (I to Q)

--Radiohead to ZZ Top (R to Z)

Reading Music

The stories of the great bands and musicians are fascinating. Musicians as a group are brilliant, but often troubled. The combination of creativity and drama makes for great reading.

Here are some books to check out.

Duke Ellington brought class, sophistication and style to jazz which, until that point, was proudly unpolished and raucous. His story is profound. The author, Terry Teachout, also wrote "Pops," the acclaimed bio of Louis Armstrong. Click here or on the image.


What else is there to say? Here is the story behind every song written by The Beatles. Click here or on the image.


The Grateful Dead don't get enough credit for the profound nature of its lyrics. Many of the band's songs are driven by a deep and literate Americana ("I'm Uncle Sam/That's who I am/Been hidin' out/In a rock and roll band" and "Majordomo Billy Bojangles/Sit down and have a drink with me/What's this about Alabama/Keeps comin' back to me?").

David Dodd's exhaustive study tells the story, song by song. Click here or on the image.