The John K Band @ The Hamilton, Washington DC 3/28/2014 John K Band - a little higher please...
Review for DHL by Brian Willis
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3-28-2014 John K. Band – The Hamilton – Washington, DC
1: Givin’ Me the Business, TLEO, It’s Allright, Lazy River Rd, Man Smart Woman Smarter, Tin Roof Shack, Riverrun*, Feel Like Dynamite
2: Got To Get Better in a Little While, The Great Vehicle*, Desert Trance, Hey Pocky Way>drums>space+>Rubin & Cherise+>Walking in Your Footsteps>Fast Enough for You>What’s Become of Mary
E: How Sweet It Is
*-new original, first time played
+John Kadlecik solo

Most people know John Kadlecik from his work as co-founder and guitarist/vocalist for Dark Star Orchestra and his current stint as guitarist and vocalist for Furthur. He’s been called everything from “New Jerry” by many Deadheads to “Fake Jerry” by the more purist of Deadheads. But the fact is he’s neither – he’s John – ORIGINAL John. He’s his own man with his own band, simply named The John K Band, which played two spectacular (and quite possibly pivotal) gigs in the DC and Baltimore this past weekend.

Friday night in Washington DC, the band (often referred to simply as JKB) played The Hamilton, hitting the stage with a 9 minute rendition of a JKB staple, “Givin’ Me The Business” to the cheers of the band’s first sold out hometown show. The crowd is moving to the soaring guitar jam of John and Trevor Specht’s accompanying horn work that musically dances together – a dance that is joined by Paul Grepps’ talents at keyboard and continues throughout the evening. Next up is a somewhat sped up version of a Grateful Dead favorite, “They Love Each Other.” Prior to the song, John announced to the audience that vocalist Lizzy Loves was unable to perform due to illness and I believe that TLEO was meant to be sung as a duet with her, but in her absence John, Paul, and Trevor’s musical dance lifted the song to the beat of what is arguably the best rhythm section around – Larry Joseloff on bass and the one two punch of Nathan Graham on drums and John’s wife and percussionist extraordinaire, Katy Gaughan. Not my favorite rendition of TLEO, but a very solid one nonetheless. On to another JKB loyalist fan favorite – “It’s Alright” – with an exceptionally nice extended jam in the middle. Following quickly comes “Lazy River Road”, “Man Smart, Woman Smarter”, and “Tin Roof Shack” – all JKB staples that pump the crowd up. And then comes the first of the new JKB tunes – “River Run”, a song that has a distinct Celtic Irish jig vibe to it and sounds like a familiar old song that you’ve known all your life. “River Run” is a definite keeper of a song with lyrics by Indi Riverflow that I expect to be a regular in the JKB repertoire very quickly. The 1st set ended with the impossibly upbeat and energizing tune “Feels Like Dynamite” – another JKB staple that leaves the audience feeling like… well… dynamite.

After a short break the band was back on the stage opening with a 12 minute energy fueled “Gotta Get Better In A Little While” followed by the night’s second new song, “The Vehicle” – a bouncy number with lyrics again by Indi Riverflow. Less complex than “River Run,” this is still a fun song with its catchy chorus of “We are the bus and the bus is us!” – another keeper for the band that’s sure to be a favorite. “Desert Trance” follows as a journey through the musical jungle with tribal rhythms and some serious experimental jams that have a hint of “Space” but the band launches into an exuberant “Hey Pocky Way” instead. HPW transitions into an epic “Drums” with Katy and Nathan taking over with a concussive tribal drum jam that concludes with a Katy led audience participation finale before finally dissolving into a short but effective “Space” that echoes perfectly throughout the venue. What follows next is a beautiful and haunting version of “Ruben and Cherise” with John playing solo before being rejoined on stage by the band for a slightly less haunting but much eerier cover of The Police’s classic “Walking In Your Footsteps” and a sweet version of “Fast Enough For You” that were worth the ticket price alone. JKB closed the show with the high energy “What’s Become Of Mary” and finished off with an extended version of “How Sweet It Is To Be Loved By You” that left the crowd yelling for more and anxious for the next night’s show in Baltimore.

Here’s the thing about The John K Band – if you are expecting to see a Grateful Dead tribute show, you’re going to be disappointed. But if you are expecting a night of great music delivered by a tight, smoking band that will leave you exhausted and energized all at once, you owe it to yourself to see The John K Band when they come to town.