Or at least that is what I am hoping and praying for as videos from The 2024 Dead Ahead Festival are emerging.
The festival was just held in Riviera Cancun, Mexico, where Deadheads overran the Moon Palace Resort, enjoying four nights of music. While we are infatuated with the country music appearances from Sierra Hull, Margo Price, and special guest Sturgill Simpson, the festival highlights the jam band sounds of Grateful Dead’s Bobby Weir and Mickey Hart, along with Dead & Company/ Bob Weir & Wolf Bros members Jeff Chimenti, Oteil Burbridge, Don Was and Jay Lane.
The festival was set up for jam-tastic goodness across all performances. Footage from the headlining sets the last two nights supports these claims, making for one of the best musical performances of the year so far. And even those who couldn’t make the trek to Cancun knew that Sturgill on the bill was going to be something special.
While Simpson shredded on some Grateful Dead tracks with Bob Weir, they took also some time to tip their hats to his country music roots. From their killer seven-minute jam of Johnny Cash’s “Big River”to giving a nod to Merle Haggard, the country music greats were honored on the Mexico stage.
Hands down, one of my favorite videos that surfaced was during the last night of the festival when Simpson, Weir, and Margo Price led the pack for a stellar cover of “Mama Tried.” The energy exuded from the stage into the crowd, and everyone looked to be having a knockout time.
But the best part about this performance was Sturgill’s vocals. They sound spot on. His silky, smooth, deep voice highlights the twangs of Haggard’s original cut of the song as he sings, and the addition of Margo Price’s harmonies makes this a chef’s kiss from me.
“And I turned twenty-one in prison doin’ life without parole No one could steer me right but Mama tried; Mama tried Mama tried to raise me better, but her pleading, I denied That leaves only me to blame ’cause Mama tried…”
The crowd all has their hands in the air, singing along to the words of the classic tune. These Deadheads know how to get down to some classic country.