Never miss a Sunday show. These words of wisdom are shared amongst jam band fans. Last night, the proverb lived up to its name as Joe Russo’s Almost Dead closed out a three-night run at the Westville Music Bowl in New Haven, CT on Memorial Day Weekend. There was nothing dry or warm about the conditions at this former outdoor tennis stadium, which only added fuel to the fire. The addition of Stuart Bogie on saxophone and flute to the evening’s lineup elevated the band musically in directions it had not gone the prior nights. The music was distinctively jazzier throughout the jams and transitions with Bogie in the roster.
Bogie is a multi-instrumentalist, composer and music producer hailing in Brooklyn, NY. He has worked with a long list of notable artists, including the band Antibalas and producer Dave Sitek. He is also a frequent collaborator with Joe Russo, including Joe Russo’s Hooteroll and Boyfriends.
The first set began as the rain poured down with a soulful “Eyes of the World,” sung by guitarist Tom Hamilton, into “Estimated Prophet.” The band and crowd were feeling it early tonight, and the rain seemed to bring the best out of both. An inspired “Cassidy” was up next, transitioning into “Going Down the Road Feeling Bad” and then “Candyman.” The classic Grateful Dead tune brought the energy down for a few moments, but quickly jettisoned back up during “The Eleven” > “Franklin’s Tower.” The set closed out with the intensity of the rain increasing as much as the band.
Set two began with many fans moving onto the second level of the stadium to take cover from the rain. The band picked up where set one left off with “Scarlet Begonias” > “Fire on the Mountain” > “Beat It on Down the Line.” The latter being a cover by Jesse Fuller. “He’s Gone” and “Playing in the Band,” followed. The rain, which was pouring extremely hard at this point, could not douse the band or the crowd’s flame. The set ended with a jazz fueled “Samson and Delilah.” Those on the field, who were completely soaked at this point, raised their hands with joy as the band sang “If I had my way, I would tear this whole building down.” The band quickly returned to play a fiery encore, closing out this memorably soggy night with “Born to Run” by Bruce Springsteen.
Joe Russo’s Almost Dead ended the exciting three day run with stellar jams and excellent vibes in the great state of Connecticut. The adage is alive and true, despite the lack of music during the recent Covid pandemic: Never miss a Sunday show.
For those who missed this run, the band will return in three weeks for another sold-out run on June 18, 19, and 20th, as well as on July 30-31st and September 4th at this socially distanced outdoor venue. Tickets are still available for the July and September shows at www.joerussosalmostdead.com.
Eyes of the World > Estimated Prophet, Cassidy > Going Down the Road Feeling Bad > Candyman, The Eleven > Franklin’s Tower
Scarlet Begonias > Fire on the Mountain > Beat It on Down the Line, He’s Gone, Playing in the Band, Samson and Delilah
Born to Run