Dead Collective at the Shea - photo by Matt Sypher
Dead Collective at the Shea - photo by Matt Sypher

Black Tie Dye Ball featuring Dead Collective The Shea Theater, Turners Falls, MA May 13, 2017 Story by Stephanie Janicedottir

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From the YouTube channel of Laurie Batog:

Juggling all the things involved with adulting, I have a backlog of reviews to write, so here is the first of three that Live Music News and Review is due.

Several weekends ago, my Saturday night plans got cancelled last minute and my friend Krystal came to the rescue and suggested I join her at the Black Tie Dye Ball at The Shea Theater.  The evening was sponsored by the Green River Festival in conjunction with Berkshire Brewing Company, which made the evening event free. And who could pass up a free Grateful Dead show?  

I’ve seen many Grateful Dead tribute bands over the years and many more bands play covers to pay tribute to the Grateful Dead.  This was the first time I’ve seen the Dead Collective, and their lineup is very different from many of the other Dead tribute configurations I’ve seen.

Most tribute bands have a “Donna,” an organist/keyboard player, and a percussionist or some combination thereof.  This was the first tribute band that lacked all three of these elements, but what this band has over all the others were two drummers.  They also had three guitar players on stage this night.  These unique elements brought a more classic sound to the band as they played throughout the evening.

Many of the audience members rose to the challenge of the night’s theme, and there was a sea of tie-dye as well as other fun and festive outfits in contrast to the nonstop torrential rain outside.  

The first set included some classic songs such as “Bertha,” “Viola Lee Blues,” and “Althea.”  This band hit the ground running and was able to get people up on their feet and dancing.  For me, it’s important to be able to have enough room to dance and there were just enough people at the show to create a wonderful crowd vibe without being crowded.

They closed the first set with “Playing in the Band,” one of my favorite tunes.  It was high energy and the stick work of the drummers was fantastic. During the set break, the Green River Festival sponsors gave away passes to their weekend event set to take place at the Greenfield Community College campus July 14-16th. This event has been going strong since 1986 and has grown over the decades, complete with family-friendly events and hot-air balloons.  There were also prize packs from Joe Russo’s Almost Dead, who’s also playing at the Festival.

The second set of the night started with “Touch of Grey,” “Jack Straw,” “Cumberland Blues,” and “Dark Star.”  By this time in the show, I was in absolute heaven.  Their sound was very authentic and again, the two drummers added a different dimension to a classic Grateful Dead song.

It was also clear throughout the evening that this band was having fun onstage.  I find that many bands are always trying to play the perfect set or the perfect show, but anyone who’s ever been to a Grateful Dead show can tell you that there were nights where the harmonies weren’t quite right, the jam fell off the tracks, or when the lyrics weren’t quite right.  I’ve also seen Dead tribute bands who, more often than not, try to ignore the mistakes or look uncomfortable knowing that something in their playing just didn’t gel.  

When the Dead Collective had a few hiccups during the second set, they would catch each other’s eye, have a laugh or a smile, and then move on with the music.  It was delightful to watch.  They wrapped up the set playing “I Know You Rider” and “Going Down the Road Feeling Bad” with an encore of “Brokedown Palace.”

If anyone is looking to see a fun danceable Grateful Dead tribute band that offers a little something extra, with two drummers, then you should go out and see this one.

The Dead Collective is Steve Tremblay on bass, Mark Kurber on guitar and vocals, Thomas Williams on guitar and vocals, Gail Hegeman on drums/percussion, and Doug Hegeman on drums.

To submit a review or story for consideration hit us at [email protected]

Check out the Live Music News and Facebook page for updates and announcements.