Dead Set employs an “Everyone Orchestra” approach to creating a one-of-a-kind Grateful Dead tribute that features local luminaries and other artists who may be on a shared festival bill. Dead Set doesn’t seek to re-create the Dead’s shows to a “T”: it is more of a celebration of the extensive repertoire of The Grateful Dead, performed in their own unique fashion but with unerring respect for that unmistakable Grateful Dead sound. Much of this has to do with guitarist and vocalist Zach Nugent’s uncanny ability to not only channel the phrasing and feel of legendary guitarist Jerry Garcia, but to perfectly duplicate that timeless tone through his extensive vintage gear, which is an exact copy of what Garcia played in the 1980’s.
Dead Set was born from the weekly Tuesday night Grateful Dead jam session at Club Metronome above the legendary Nectar’s in Burlington Vermont. With a rotating cast of musicians based on availability and even theme and built around Nugent. Each performance is carefully crafted, but embraces change and the possibilities created through collaboration with other artists who may be in town, allowing for those for those “right place / right time” instances of sheer magic.
Dead Set’s rotating lineup includes members of Zach Nugent’s Cats Under The Stars (a tribute to Jerry Garcia Band) and a broad array of guests performers—from the usual suspects to folks one wouldn’t expect to find playing the music of the Dead— including Jon Fishman (Phish), Don Harris (Chic, Tower of Power), Russ Lawton and Dave Grippo of Trey Anastasio Band, Brockett Parsons (Lady Gaga), Kenny Brooks (Ratdog), Rob Eaton, Rob Barraco and Skip Vangelas of Dark Star Orchestra, Alan Evans (Soulive), Tim Palmieri (Kung Fu), Mihali Savoulidis, Zdenek Gubb, Brook Jordan and Ryan Dempsey of Twiddle, Bill Carbone (Max Creek), Corey Wilhelm (Bombino), Beau Sasser and Danny Mayer of the Alan Evans Trio, Chris Plante (The Brew), The Hornitz, Keith Allen and Kenn Mogel of The Mantras, Colby Dix (Touchpants), Wiley Griffin (MUN), Chris English and Lowell Wurster of Lucid, Nectar’s own Alex Budney and Ryan Clausen and even Hoplite’s CEO, Tom Baggott.
As Dead Set’s core cast of players begins to make its way throughout the Northeast with club shows, festivals—beginning with 2014’s Catskill Chill Music Festival—have taken notice and begun to include this one-of-a-kind tribute to the progenitors of the broadly defined “jam band” scene, both as a means of paying homage to the roots of much of the music heard at grass roots camping festivals and as a means of providing an opportunity for so many artists to come together on common musical ground.