written by Connor Hayes
photo by JamBase
A Grateful Ball is a special set that only comes around once in a blue moon. Jeff Austin (of Yonder Mountain String Band) and The Travelling McCourrys began the tradition a few years back, which started with a tribute song the Mccourys did for the Grateful Dead’s classic, “Loser”, at the 2015 installment of DelFest. Now, the bluegrass dream team is bringing their signature Dead-a-la-grass experience to Anastasia Music Festival, this Saturday. What might the set look like? Will it be the obvious classics like “Franklin’s Tour”, or “Touch of Gray”? Or deeper cuts like “New Speedway Boogie”? We’d like to offer our predictions.
It’s safe to say the set with start off simple and even tempo, with maybe an “Eyes of the World”, leading into an upright-bass-heavy “Shakedown Street”. Things will start to get a little hotter with a segue into a breakneck speed “Fire on the Mountain” then a couple spoonfuls of mad fiddling driving into “Bertha”. At this point, The Travelling Mccourys will likely play a cover from their own catalog, maybe “Loser”, with accompaniment from Austin, and use this to naturally progress into a slower, more ballad like number, probably a mandolin aided “Wharf Rat”. It would be nice to have an emotional performance of “Dark Star”, but it’s more realistic to expect “He’s Gone” (which has been covered by bluegrass greats the Infamous Stringdusters), with a possible sit in from the McCourrys’ father, Del. A show stopping finale of “Sugar Magnolia”, and getting really hopeful here, but an emotional, steady encore of “Ripple”, with the Del Mccoury Band. All of this is conjecture, and should be taken with a grain of salt, but regardless of what the actual set comprises of, like any Grateful Ball, it’ll be a show for the books.