Nearly six decades after the Grateful Dead formed as the house band for Ken Kesey’s Electric Kool Aid Acid Tests, their influence continues to be handed down to the following generations, almost as a rite of passage. During the Grateful Dead’s 50th anniversary year in 2015, founding member Bill Kreutzmann became interested in where the band’s spiritual offspring had taken the torch, under the tutelage of musicians that remained heavily influenced by the Grateful Dead, but that — decades removed from the band’s final show — were still a product of more modern times.
And so it was that Kreutzmann went on a quest to bond with his musical children — trailblazing artists in their own right, world-class virtuosos and improvisors who might be able discover new sounds and sonic landscapes while exploring the same material that Kreutzmann had initially brought to life with Jerry Garcia and their Grateful Dead bandmates.
In addition to the core lineup, Billy & the Kids have a history of inviting special guests to join them onstage, often for entire sets or shows. Past “Honorary Kids” have included Bob Weir, Carlos Santana, Billy Strings, Warren Haynes, Oteil Burbridge, Robert Randolph, Eric Krasno, John Popper, Col. Bruce Hampton, Molly Tuttle, Sierra Hull, Daniel Donato and Dominic Lalli.
Billy & the Kids have set out to bridge the gap between Grateful Dead history and the future of jam rock.