Nearly six years ago, when Wynonna Judd announced her new recording project and formed the band called Wynonna & the Big Noise, her move to a more Americana-leaning musical direction, encompassing country, rock, soul, blues, and more, was, in the singer’s own words, “life-changing.” Since the 2016 release of the band’s self-titled debut, which features her husband Cactus Moser on drums, the Kentucky-born powerhouse has continued to defy expectations — a practice that continued with the group’s Thursday night tour stop in San Francisco.
Taking the stage of the historic Fillmore with Grateful Dead founding member Bob Weir backing her on guitar for several tunes, Wynonna and company ran through a trio of trademark Dead covers: “Ramble on Rose,” “Truckin,’” and “Althea.” Weir also sat in for the band’s performance of his (and late lyricist Robert Hunter’s) “Jack Straw,” which the Dead began performing in 1971.
After the three Grateful Dead tunes, Weir stayed put for the remainder of the set, joining the Big Noise on the Judds’ 1987 hit “I Know Where I’m Going,” their breakthrough single, “Why Not Me,” and two of Wynonna’s solo hits, “Rock Bottom” and “No One Else on Earth.”
The show’s encore also featured Cass McCombs, who had taken the spotlight earlier on to perform three of his own songs, with Weir then playing and singing on a fiery cover of Dwight Yoakam’s “Fast as You,” and backing a bluesy version of the Judds’ “Love Can Build a Bridge.”
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Wynonna & the Big Noise will hit San Juan Capistrano on Friday, El Cajon, California, on Saturday, and Tucson, Arizona on Sunday, before dates in the Midwest later this month.