In a surprising yet welcomed twist, Bill Kreutzmann, the legendary drummer of the Grateful Dead and Dead & Company, joined forces with Daniel Donato and his Cosmic Country band for a riveting performance at the Republic NOLA in New Orleans. The gig, which kicked off the 10th annual Nolafunk Series During Jazz Fest, saw Kreutzmann take to the stage with a minimalist drum kit, a stark contrast to his usual stadium gear with Dead & Company. However, the 76-year-old rock icon proved his mettle, showing no trouble in keeping pace with musicians a third his age.
The band, led by Donato, a firebrand guitarist from Nashville, warmed up with a rendition of “Dire Wolf” before diving into a deep jam that eventually culminated in the Dead’s improvisational masterpiece, “Dark Star.” The 45-minute epic journey saw Kreutzmann and Cosmic Country’s drummer, Noah Miller, steer the band’s course through the cosmos, with visuals of deep space adding to the immersive experience.
As a fan, the unexpected fusion of old and new was nothing short of electrifying. Kreutzmann’s inclusion added a rich layer of authenticity and nostalgia to Donato’s fresh, energetic performance. The jam, which spanned over 70 minutes, was a testament to the limitless possibilities of live music, ending with a journey down the mine for “Cumberland Blues.” The show happened a day after Kreutzmann revived Billy & The Kids at New Orleans’ Saenger Theatre, providing an intriguing precursor to the upcoming Dead & Co’s set at the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival.
Thanks to Daniel Donato for the footage!