This was my first time seeing Melvin Seals and JGB since they’ve started playing wth Dave Hebert (aka Dave A’Bear). Dave has been playing for a long time with Xtra Ticket out of Arizona, and have heard from many of my AZ friends that he is incredible, both in terms of his Jerry Garcia interpertation and sound, and his exuberance and joyful playing.
Of course the centerpiece and connector in the band is Melvin Seals, and it’s always a great pleasure to hear him play. It seems he is everwhere – I’ve seen him recently with Jay Lane and Band Of Brotherz at Yoshi’s and also last December where he played with his bandmates from The Mix (John Kadlecik, Greg Anton) and the Everyone Orchestra at the Rex Foundation Run For the Roses Benefit.
JGB 2012 has a variation in shade, a different touch of Jerry, than the JGB I saw a year and half ago at Las Tortugas Music Festival. Dave A’Bear was brought in late last year to fill in for lead guitarist Stu Allen.
Stu recently married, and was on paterinty leave. In addiiton to nesting, Stu has been playing increasingly frequent close to home gigs with Ghosts of Electricity (a Dylan tribute group also featuring Ratdog’s Mark Karan), and Mars Hotel his mostly weekly Deadhead dances at Ashkenaz in Berkeley; as well as sitting in everywhere at the never ending string of benefits and special shows in the Bay area (Steve Block Memorial for example). Stu is keeping busy enough… and then, earlier this week, Stu posted to his Facebook page that he was officially making his exit from the JGB Band, after 5 years. It seemed there was no animosity or ill feelings, just time to move along…
Upon hearing Dave A’Bear in person live for the first ime, I agree he knocks out a very clean Jerryish sound that respects the original, without cloning it. And it had a nice feel. Enjoyed the jaming reparte with the mighty Melvin Seals on keyboards and the rhythm section of Pete Lavizzoli on drums and Jimmy Tebeau.
Just like no one can really ever replace Jerry Garcia, the same can be said of Stu Allen. There is nothing to not like with the A’Bear JGB, it was quite good, but it is different… can’t quite put my finger on it – then again, it shouldn’t be the same! I really enjoyed what Dave brought, and he was smiling and beaming, and listening in along with all of us. You can tell he is a fan, not of himself, but of Jerry and the music. And he played his heart out… anyone that sweats like that must be all right…
JGB 2012 delivered the goods, a fun night of Jerryesque grooves, great songs like “Forever Young”, and “BreadBox”, and a great crowd of people into the music . A young fan next to me in the first set kept telling me she was hoping for a “Brother Esau”. It would be very intersting to see them stretch beyond just the JGB catalog, maybe throw in a Weir song or two just to surprise expectation? I know they know more than just the JGB songs.
Then again, perhaps that is the distinciton, only play Jerry Garcia Band tunes, since these musicians all play with one another in other configurations, including doing stints in Jimmy’s Tebeau’s other band, The Schwag. JGB – keepers of the flame.
The second set seemed kind of short, thought that had to do with the venue’s curfew; we were expecting 2 or 3 more songs and an encore. It was still a meaty 2nd set, with a really killer jam on “Let’s Spend The Night Together” that was the peak for me musically. It should also be noted, the band always has pristine and kick ass sound, thanks to their Sound Engineers Bo Putnam and Shaun Wilson.
Catch Melvin Seals and the JGB Band tonight at the Arcata Theatre, and next week they play Grass Valley, Chico and Lake Tahoe. And then back to San Francisco on Feb. 17th. In March they play all over the New York area!
Check out their schedule: JGB Band Tour
Melvin Seals, Scheryl Rucker, Shirley Starks, Jimmy TeBeau, Pete Lavizzoli, Dave Hebert
McNear’s Mystic Theatre
How Sweet It Is
Stop that Train
C’est La Vie
Lay Down Sally
That’s What Love Will make You Do
RIde Mighty High
Second that Emotion
Ain’t No Bread In the Breadbox
Sisters and Brothers >
Let’s Spend The Night Together