By Bill Zaferos   Published Oct 26, 2006 at 8:12 AM
The Grateful Dead have been gone for years, but their spirit lives on in the Rhythm Devils.

Wednesday night at the Riverside Theater, a crowd of Dead Heads, 20-somethings, Deadhead poseurs and Grateful Dead concert veterans showed up for the party that was the Rhythm Devils show, a show that held a little something for everyone. And the Dead’s spirit lived on.

The Rhythm Devils are a new band, just a few weeks and a few rehearsals old. But when the Devils -- a two-drum attack created by Dead drummers Mickey Hart and Bill Kruetzmann -- stepped on stage and the opening chords to the Dead’s “U.S. Blues” began, there was no doubt as to where this band’s roots and the crowd’s loyalties lay. It became sort of a Grateful Dead class reunion, except the kids were invited as well.

They got the groove on early, and the crowd created an assemblage at the stage that wasn’t so much a mosh pit as it was a slosh pit; most everyone was feeling good, feeling groovy, feeling a little drunk or a little high. But mostly, they were ready to party and the Rhythm Devils were ready to comply.

They swayed and swooped through mellow grooves that included guitar work by Steve Kimock. With Kimock playing lead, if you closed your eyes and put yourself back about 20 years, you’d have thought an incarnation of Jerry Garcia himself had shown up for the performance.

During the second set, when the Devils opened with “Sugaree” and later included  “Cumberland Blues,” it didn’t matter what new or old material the band played in between or after. The fact was it was the next best thing to a real live Dead concert you can get these days, and as far as anyone was concerned, they were in the company of groove greatness as the Devils jammed through the night.