Photo Credit: Hana Gustafson

Over the holiday weekend, moe. returned to the stage for its long-awaited Independence Day series, setting off the band’s Best.Summer.Ever. tour alongside Daniel Donato’s Cosmic Country. With shows in Asbury Park, N.J., Westport, Conn. and Jay, Vt., the band made its first appearances after family tragedy derailed its summer touring plans, forcing cancellation for slated headline performances at Northlands Music Festival and Solshine: A Music & Arts Reverie. To mark its moving and heroic return to the public eye, the band presented three very special shows, lined with high-profile collaborations and moving moments.

On July 4, moe. touched down at Asbury Park, N.J.’s Stone Pony for the first show of its summer series, bringing Daniel Donato’s Cosmic Country and Neighbor along for its first three dates. To properly honor the holiday, the foundational jam band opened its set with the cherished original “Captain America” and closed with a debut cover of the Grateful Dead’s “U.S. Blues,” amounting to a wry salute to the nation on the anniversary of the day it declared independence.

Things heated up on July 5, when the band brought its stacked bill to Westport, Conn.’s Levitt Pavilion for the Performing Arts. No highlight from the band’s return to the road surpassed the emotional force of the first sit-in on Friday, when bassist Rob Derhak’s daughter Emma joined the band for a bust-out of Traffic’s “Dear Mr. Fantasy,” conjuring the power of the family’s healing process into a soul-stirring performance. Through years of joining in the chorus, Emma has become a known entity at moe. shows, but this appearance stands against the fold for the love it showed to the memory of Eddie Derhak, beloved brother and son. This marked the second time the band had ever performed the cover, following a debut in October 2005.

Later in moe.’s set, Neighbor’s Richard James supported an encore cover of the Dead’s “West L.A. Fadeaway,” and Donato joined the band for the classic “Moth,” which figured into a sprawling medley with “The Pit” and “Meat.” Donato teamed up with moe. again on Friday for the final show in its holiday trio, adding his virtuosic guitar and backing vocals to “32 Things.”

moe. will return to the stage on Wednesday, July 10 for a performance at Bethlehem, Pa.’s Levitt Pavilion SteelStacks; the band’s Best.Summer.Ever tour with Daniel Donato’s Cosmic Country runs through July 21, followed by a run of solo headline shows through Aug. 3. For tickets and more information, visit

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