by Russell S. Glowatz
There are countless Grateful Dead cover bands across these great United States taking their own spin on the GD canon, yet when it comes to David Bryan & Friends, the phrase “cover band” is a dirty term. Surely, they play Grateful Dead songs, but replication is nary the objective. They are a Re-creation Band, taking these timeless tunes, and transforming them into their otherworldly own.
What JRAD is to a face melting, brain busting, interpretation of the Grateful Dead canon, David Bryan & Friends is the soothing soulful mellow opposing side of that same coin. Not to say you won’t get your groove on at a David Bryan show, for you no doubt will (bring your dancing shoes!). But painstaking attention to arrangement, and vocal virtuosity sets them widely apart from your dime a dozen GD tribute act.
Specifically, shining centerstage is the angelic voice of the troupe’s namesake. David’s vocals are soul shattering and will tug at your heartstrings as you join the band on their melodious migration through the Grateful Dead songbook. He is joined by a hand selected ensemble of impeccable vocalists (male & female) and distinguished musicians that are tried and true in their own right.
One particular player of note is Kenny Brooks, longtime saxophonist of Bob Weir’s Ratdog. Another is the badass bassist Chris Crosby (Danke Baby), and as brother of The Terrapin Family Band keyman, Jason Crosby, all things Grateful Dead runs through this guy’s veins. It’s truly a GD family affair in this ensemble. Long Island’s own guitar virtuoso, Steve Urban (Fields Of Dreams), is also in company, adding his own special style to the mix. And as a super special fill-in, Bill Bonacci (Stella Blue’s Band) will be shredding the strings on lead guitar. Dave was not fooling around when putting together this crew, and attendance at his upcoming American Beauty NYC shindig is essentially mandatory for any self-respecting Deadhead, or true-blue music lover.
In only a few short days, you too can experience the musical mysticism of a live David Bryan & Friends show. They will lay it all out on the stage at American Beauty on this Thursday, September 7th (Doors @ 8pm). If you find yourself within a 50-mile radius of the New York Metropolitan Area, you’d frankly be a fool not to check these masters of melody out. I can guarantee with wholehearted confidence that this will merely be your first foray into David’s world, as his alluring illuminations of Grateful Dead song will leave your soul screaming for more.
You will find the venue itself to be enticing in its own right, beguiling to jam band minded folks with its acoustics and aesthetics. A plethora of craft beer is on tap to boot, appealing to every personal penchant under the sun. Yet if insanity is abounding, and the music nor brews are doing it for you, all the free pizza your tummy could desire is on hand too. Thursday night’s scene provides something for everyone, and at the reasonable fifteen-dollar price of entry (comparable to a pack of smokes in Manhattan), you’re “bound to cover just a little more ground,” and get your monies worth and then some.
This band is a jewel in the rough, a diamond yet to be mined. For the few in the know, they keep coming back for more, yet now it’s your time to get in on this right stuff. Head to American Beauty on Thursday, and share in the groove with David Bryan & Friends. As I personally vouch for the versatile virtue of this crew of exemplary players, feel free to track me down and rough me up if I’ve mislead you in anyway.
PS- Please listen to one or all of these videos below (lineups vary), and you will see what I’m talking about…when you’re done, click on the Facebook event link below, RSVP, and find all the pertinent details…