Courtesy of The Airplane FamilyThe new tribute bands The Airplane Family and Live Dead 69, which celebrate the music of The Jefferson Airplane, Jefferson Starship and Grateful Dead, kick off their first-ever tour tonight in Annapolis, Maryland. The groups were put together by longtime Jefferson Starship guitarist Mark “Slick” Aguilar, and feature a variety of musicians with connections to the Airplane, the Starship and the Dead.

Aguilar tells ABC Radio that the new projects feature “a bunch of great players [and] good people,” and that he expects the trek to be “a lot of fun.” He says the idea for The Airplane Family came about after his friend, Jefferson Starship leader Paul Kantner, died in January.

Besides Aguilar, The Airplane Family includes bassist Peter Kaukonen, Jefferson Airplane guitarist Jorma Kaukonen‘s brother; guitarist Darby Slick, Grace Slick‘s ex-brother-in-law and Great Society band mate, who wrote the Airplane classic “Somebody to Love”; and one-time Jefferson Starship drummer Prairie Prince, who also plays with The Tubes and Todd Rundgren. Handling lead vocals for the band are Joli Valenti, son of late Quicksilver Messenger Service singer Dino Valenti, and 2006 Canadian Idol winner Eva Avila.

Live Dead 69, meanwhile, shares some Airplane Family members and also features early Grateful Dead keyboardist Tom Constanten; ex-RatDog guitarist Mark Karan; and Michael Falzarano, who’s played guitar with the respective Airplane and Dead spinoff groups Hot Tuna and New Riders of the Purple Sage.

Aguilar, whose health issues forced him to leave the Jefferson Starship in 2012, tells ABC Radio that he feels great after undergoing a liver transplant in 2013.

“I can’t wait to go back out and do this, and go play for the people,” he says.

The 2016 Airplane Family/Live Dead 69 tour runs through a December 18 concert in St. Charles, Illinois. Here are all of the dates:

12/7 — Annapolis, MD, Rams Head On Stage
12/9 — Asbury Park, NJ, The Stone Pony
12/10 — Pawling, NY, Daryl’s House Club
12/11 — New York, NY, B.B. King Blues Club & Grill
12/13– Sellersville, PA, Sellersville Theater & Washington House Hotel & Restaurant
12/14 — Huntington, NY, The Paramount
12/16 — Pittsburgh, PA, The Rex Theater
12/17 — North Tonawanda, NY, The Riviera Theatre
12/18 — Saint Charles, IL, Arcada Theatre

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