With no shortage of bands playing homage to the Grateful Dead catalog, Los Angeles based Grateful Shred is quickly distinguishing themselves in this crowded space. The band welcomed Adam MacDougall, formerly of the Chris Robinson Brotherhood and bandmate of bassist Dan Horne with Circles Around the Sun, on B3 and keyboards to kick off their East West tour last night at the Brooklyn Bowl. This was the first of three consecutive shows at the Bowl and second such run this calendar year after an earlier run this past March. Joining MacDougall were founding members Horne and guitar trio Austin McCutchen, Sam Blasucci, and Clay Finch, along with a pair of drummers.
The three guitar format is largely responsible for what gives Grateful Shred their signature sound, and likely their name as well, though Horne’s bass is also a driving force. MacDougall made his presence known early and often, treating the crowd to some masterful work on the Hammond and Moog. “Let’s Spend the Night Together,” a Rolling Stones tune from the JGB catalog, got the crowd into an early groove, Sam Blasucci on lead vocals. Like one of those old what’s wrong with this picture cartoons, it might take the casual observer a minute to notice that southpaw Blasucci is shredding his lefty solos on a righty guitar played upside down, a la Jimi Hendrix. “New Minglewood Blues” was next with a fierce solo from MacDougall before a return to the JGB catalog with Jimmy Cliff’s “Harder They Come.” “Scarlet Begonias” > “Fire on the Mountain” preceded the set, closing with “Deal.”
The second set got underway with a frenzied “Cumberland Blues” featuring gorgeous harmonies from the three guitarists on top of a sweltering bass line from Horne. “Mexicali Blues” was next, the third song of the night with blues in the title. “Reuben and Cerise” was the first JGB cover actually written by Garcia with lyrics by Robert Hunter, though the Grateful Dead did play it four times, as well. A lovely “Mississippi Half-Step” sung by Clay with piercing solos to match was up next before a “Playing in the Band” > “Mountains of the Moon” > “Playing in the Band” combination that went deep and got a little spacey, sans drum solo.
The set closed with a final offering from the JGB catalog, Allen Toussaint’s “Get Out of My Life Woman” before a fiery “Jack Straw” closed. After a brief respite, “US Blues” took the encore slot and wrapped up the 90-minute set.
Grateful Shred returns to Brooklyn Bowl to finish their run Friday and Saturday before heading back to California to finish the East West tour. All three Brooklyn Bowl shows have free webcasts on the Relix channel. Check out last night’s stream below.
Set One: Let’s Spend the Night Together, New Minglewood Blues, Harder They Come, Scarlet Begonias > Fire on the Mountain, Deal.
Set Two: Cumberland Blues, Mexicali Blues, Reuben and Cerise, Mississippi Half-Step, Playin’ in the Band > Mountains of the Moon > Playing in the Band, Get Out of My Life Woman, Jack Straw.
Encore: U.S. Blues.