Our Band

Better Off Dead is more
than a “tribute band.”

For over 10 years, we have celebrated the music of The Grateful Dead with the same passion, energy, and exploration as our heroes. We play nearly every song in the Dead catalog, so each show is a unique concert experience for our devoted fans. And just like Jerry Garcia said, we “choose fun in this lifetime” so our concerts are filled with lots of dancing, love, smiles, and hugs.

We aspire to play the music anew, often with fidelity to the past but just as often with the daring to forge our own path. We feel privileged to connect to the wonderful community of fans who love the Dead, and this grand and enduring tradition, as much as we do. We play regionally in the Mid-Atlantic area, so come join the party!


Rex Wilkes

Vocals & Guitar

I discovered the magic of the Grateful Dead and Jerry Garcia Band early in High School. I was so blown away by the music and vibe that I had to learn more. So in ’87, I hopped in a van with a bunch of friends and headed to JFK. After the first few notes, I was beyond hooked! There was something about those songs, those JAMS, that energy that was changed my life! So I kept going to countless shows and spent hours playing, singing and studying this amazing music. This music fills me so deeply with happiness that all I want to do is share it with people. At that is why Better Off Dead exists.  To carry that torch the best we can! Hope to see you at a show! Now off to listen to some more Dead and JGB!


Alex DiPietro

Lead Guitar

I interpret the Dead and Jerry Garcia with reverence to their musical approach and the spirit of their music while maintaining my own voice. I come from a varied musical background that include performances which range from classical to blues. I strive to bring the audience to the same lofty place the Dead were able to achieve in their improvisations.


John Butte

Bass & Vocals

My childhood was spent in pursuit of classical music on the violin and trumpet, as with Phil himself!!  In adulthood, I found the guitar, bass and honed my voice through various bands, choirs, and my music teaching career.  My role in Better Off Dead has made use of all these skills… I am right at home singing Bobby vocals and harmonies, John Kahn is my spiritual bass guide, Phil’s tone lights my way, and the art of jamming is my true passion.  I discovered Jerry and the Dead while studying music at Northwestern University in Chicago, and have dedicated my life to jamming ever since.  Playing this music is a dream come true!!


Andrew Ellinghaus


I was raised in a big musical family and my dad gave me my first drumset when I was four years old. Growing up, I got my energy out on the set and eventually picked up percussion along the way, too.   I attended Berklee College of Music in Boston where I trained and played with the best and most exciting musical minds in the world.  My background is eclectic—hard rock, jam band, jazz, funk, disco, Latin, Afro Cuban, and I bring it all to Better Off Dead. I love playing the rhythm and multi-style drumming of the Dead’s dynamic duo, Bill Kreutzman and Micky Hart, and like them, feel right at home improvising a 14 minute jam.

Will Layman


My roots in music started with a love affair with Miles Davis and John Coltrane when I was 12, followed by passionate attempts to learn the art of jazz improvisation – ongoing to this day. I am equally passionate about the great American song traditions: from the blues to Rodgers and Hart, from Woody Guthrie and Hank Williams to Bob Dylan and Joni Mitchell. The Dead put it all together! So, whether I’m playing piano, Rhodes, or Hammond B3, I feel at home in the improvisational lineage that includes Pigpen, Keith, Brent, Melvin Seals, and Bruce Hornsby. Thanks for coming out to see to our band and, if the venue is large enough, listen to “Honey,” the Leslie 145 speaker cabinet I rehabbed with my very own soldering iron and sweat, all the better to wail through.

Featured Music

Listen to us live at The 8×10 in Baltimore and be sure to check out the Tour Dates to see when we’ll be playing next!

If you’re interested in booking us, shoot us an email.


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