Big Hassle Media
Billy & the Kids
Bill Kreutzmann (Grateful Dead)
Aron Magner (Disco Biscuits)
Tom Hamilton (American Babies)
Reed Mathis (Tea Leaf Green)
Fifty years after the Grateful Dead formed as the house band for Ken Kesey’s Electric Kool Aid Acid Tests — and twenty years since they played their final notes with Jerry Garcia — their influence continues to be handed down to the next generation after generation. During the Grateful Dead’s 50th anniversary year, founding member Bill Kreutzmann became interested in where the band’s offspring has taken the torch, under the influence of the Grateful Dead but decades removed. And so it was that “Billy the Kid” went on a quest to bond with his musical children — accomplished artists in their own right, and all already in their 30s.
Kreutzmann witnessed keyboardist Aron Magner trance-fusing a Grateful Dead upbringing with the rave culture he was surrounded with in college, through his own influential band, the Disco Biscuits. He found bassist Reed Mathis plucking the Dead’s dedication to whole-band improvisation and inserting it into his own rock-fusion odysseys with Tea Leaf Green. And he discovered guitarist Tom Hamilton tapping into the Dead’s early-‘70s Americana with his band American Babies… a comparison that was further illustrated through Hamilton’s membership in Joe Russo’s Almost Dead.
Collaborating with cross-generational, cross-genre, featured guests along the way (including Bob Weir, Warren Haynes, Oteil Burbridge, Robert Randolph and Dominic Lalli), Billy & the Kids have set out to bridge the gap between Grateful Dead history and the future of jam rock.
Later this year, Kreutzmann plans to take the songbook from the Grateful Dead’s storied Europe ’72 tour back to Europe, with special Billy & the Kids “Europe Seventy 2.0” shows in the city where it all began — London.
In the meantime, Billy & the Kids will perform just a handful of theater dates in the U.S. — with very select appearances at a couple major festivals — while Kreutzmann also prepares to reunite with the Grateful Dead for their final bow at Soldier Field in Chicago over July 4th weekend.
Kreutzmann’s memoirs, Deal – My Three Decades of Drumming, Dreams and Drugs with the Grateful Dead — hits bookstores on May 5th.