6:00-7:30 The Medicated Headsman 8:00-10:00 Better Off Dead
Better Off Dead is more than a “tribute band”.
BOD comes at the music created, collected and lovingly realized by The Grateful Dead and The Jerry Garcia Band with the same sense of discovery, care, and exploration as its heroes. The songs BOD plays—all associated with the Dead or Garcia in one form or another—come from a beautiful American lineage: blues, country, jazz, rock, and soul. It is music that belongs to all of us. Better Off Dead aspires to play the music anew, often with fidelity to the past but just as often with the daring to forge its own path.
Vocalist and guitarist Rex Wilkes channels Garcia and curates BOD's setlists with love and a twinkle in his eye. Bassist and singer John Butte is not only a mash-up of Weir and Lesh but also a master musician who leads the band's improvisations. Guitarist Alex DiPietro is a burner and a lyrical master at once, a true virtuoso, and Will Layman's keyboards and vocal work put more Thelonious Monk and Tom Waits into the Dead than you thought possible. Berklee alum Andy Ellinghaus compliments it all by combining Kreutzmann groove with the fire of a Tony Williams or Elvin Jones. Together, they smile through every show.
The Medicated Headsmen - Traffic + Tribute:
The most startling, most unforgettable sounds come from surprise and agreement. What surprise and agreement we have now in The Medicated Headsmen - a constellation of music veterans who have also crisscrossed with each other on the sky of the DC music scene for two decades.
Singer and guitarist Bobby Thompson is a fixture in the area, writing his own soulful material and known as a faithful interpreter of everyone from Earl King to Stevie Ray Vaughan. It's no surprise that he first played with bassist Larry Joseloff and piano/organ man Will Layman at a B.B. King tribute show at the late, lamented Gypsy Sally's. Will and Larry started playing smarty-pants rock with Avant Gaardvark in the '90s and later savaged area venues as key members of the soul/funk ensemble Ten Feet Tall.
Drummer Ben Tufts was a collaborator with all of them, forming bands with Bobby, sitting in with TFT many times, and known as one of DC’s best musicians, period. All four were ripping up bandstands whenever they could - with jam bands and tribute acts, playing jazz or blues or soul, improvising and grooving like their lives depended on it. But in Medicated Headsmen, Bobby, Ben, Larry, and Will are together for the first time - a shock and a comfort, startling and familiar. Just like the bands whose music they are playing here, they are a patchwork of woven lines coming together to make something fresh.
That The Medicated Headsmen can bring to life the music of Traffic, Blind Faith, and all those quivering intersections is no surprise. They have long embodied the same spirit. And now it's coming for you!