A Couple of Nights With Melvin Seals & JGB

Written by Vernon Webb on April 6th, 2013

IMG_5795The Jerry Garcia Band was founded in 1975 by Jerry Garcia of the Grateful Dead. Over the years the lineup has changed multiple times and next to John Kahn & Jerry Garcia, Melvin Seals (nicknamed “Master of the Universe” by Garcia), has had the longest standing in the band. His career spans 30 plus years as a preforming/recording artist and producer. At the age of 8, Melvin began playing piano and gospel music for a church. Over that period of time he’s played with many great musicians, just to name a few Charlie Daniels, Elvin Bishop, Chuck Berry, Donna Jean Godchaux, Mookie Siegel, Pete Sears, G. E. Smith, Barry Sless, Mark Karan and the list goes on.

Melvin Seals & JGBIn 1980 Melvin Seals joined the Jerry Garcia Band and remained a member until Jerry Garcia’s death in 1995. He and John Kahn thought to continue Jerry Garcia’s legacy only to have John Kahn pass away as well in May of ’96. However, Seals kept the band alive and is still performing to this day.

Melvin Seals was involved in many others projects as well such as The Mix with guitarist John Kadlecik and Steve Kimock’s Crazy Engine and was the first Jerry Garcia Band member to headline an outdoor music festival, the Grateful Garcia Gathering in 2007. Also in 2005 Seals released his first solo CD entitled Melting Pot.

Current members of JGB Band are:

Dave Hebert, guitarist and singer Dave Hebert (AKA A’Bear) from Manitou Springs, Colorado. Dave replaced Stu Allen on June 11, 2011 when he was called away for an emergency C-section for his wife and has continued since. Dave has played with many musicians like Vince Welnick, Steve Kimock, Devon Allman, Tom Constanten, Berry Sless, Papa Mali and David Gans.

Dave on playing with the band, “This is one of the greatest projects I’ve been involved in am really honored to be a part of it.”

JJimmy Tebeau & Dave Hebertimmy Tebeau has been with the band for 3 years, starting in September 4, 2009, playing bass guitar. He studied jazz and music theory in college and earned an Associate in Arts degree in 1994. Owner of Camp Zoe in Salem, MO – a 400 acre festival site/campground. Jimmy has played with many artists such as various members of the String Cheese Incident, Vince Welnick, Chuck Berry, Butch Trucks, Devon Allman, Papa Mali, Future Man to name a few.

I asked Jimmy how he got started with JGB and his response was, “ I was producing large music festivals in Missouri from 1998 through 2010. We would average 5000 people at these events which would take place several times each summer. I was hiring JGB to come in each year and open the show for my band starting in 2003. I noticed each year Melvin would have a different bass player in the band. So by the fifth year I asked the booking agent to book the band without a bass player so I could play in JGB at my own venue at my own festival opening for my own band. This started the “playing together” relationship which ultimately lead to me being hired full time. “

I also asked Jimmy what he thought about playing the Capitol Theatre; “This was my first time playing at the Capitol Theatre. I really enjoyed the experience. I have played many venues all over the country. This is absolutely one of the best places for a musician to play. The production is top notch and the staff is very pro.”

Pete LavezzoliPete Lavezzoli, respected music historian with two books to date, was born in South Florida, taught himself to read and play music from age 10, and became a professional drummer and vocalist in his late teens.  Pete joined JGB in December of 2009 when good friend Stu Allen recommended him as the new drummer. He’s had the pleasure of playing with many other artists such as Vince Welnick, Donna Jean Godchaux, Phil Lesh, Bob Weir, Jeff Chimenti, Jeff Mattson, Peter Rowen, Bobby Lee Rogers, Albert Castiglia and Stu Allen. He is currently in the recording studio making an album with Donna Jean Godchaux & Jeff Mattson.

The way Pete explained JGB was is “I really dig playing with JGB man. It’s roots music, groove, done traditional style. When I play I try to emulate the drummer of the time to get that true authentic sound.”

Shirley Starks & Cheryl RuckerThe two ladies of the band are Shirley Starks & Cheryl Rucker. Cheryl told me, “Shirley and I became members after Jerry’s passing. Gloria one of the original background singers is a very close friend of ours. She would invite us to various shows which is how we met Jerry and Melvin. I have not played with any other bands just sang in school and church choirs ever since I can remember. We also met Melvin through church.”

This evening the band, which does not typically play venues of this size, played the historic Capitol Theatre in Port Chester, New York. The venue, which has seen the likes of The Grateful Dead, Blues Traveler, Spin Doctors, Pink Floyd, Traffic, The Rolling Stones and so many other awesome bands, was built in 1926 and served as a movie theater, catering hall and concert venue. Recently just re-opened in December 2011 by new owner Peter Shapiro (who was one time owner of Wetlands Preserve and current owner of Brooklyn Bowl) is once again allowing for them “kids to dance and shake their bones.” With over 1000 people in attendance the Melvin Seals and JGB Band did those halls proud.

Melvin seemed to be in high spirits the second night of a two night run and although he typically doesn’t talk much he seemed over joyed to be there as he interacted with the audience and dedicated the show to Jerry. Taking a couple pages from the Jerry Garcia Band song book, as requested by The Capitol Theatre, and did them proud. The 2 shows from played were from the Warfield Theatre in San Francisco June 12th & 13th of 1990. The entire band was in high spirits and the music certain reflected it as they played with a zest that every person in the house felt and through back at the band. Dave’s playing and singing were right on as he moved around the stage and interact with Jimmy on bass whose smiles and resounding bass licks moved the band on to higher and higher heights. Melvin’s on Hammond B-3 Organ took us to church taking the crowd to higher and higher heights.

The Capital Theatre, September 13, 2013

The Capital Theatre, March 09, 2013


1st Set (06/12/90)
How Sweet It Is To Be Loved By You, I’ll Take A Melody, I Shall Be Released, Run For The Roses, Stop That Train, Tough Mama, The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down, Deal
2nd Set
The Way You Do The Things You Do, Mission In The Rain, Dear Prudence, Russian Lullaby, Think, Gomorrah, Midnight Moonlight

1st Set (06/13/90)
Cats Down Under The Stars, They Love Each Other, Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door, That’s What Love Will Make You Do, Like A Road, My Sisters And Brothers, Let’s Spend The Night Together.
2nd Set
I Second That Emotion, And It Stoned Me, Tears Of Rage, Rubin And Cherise, Waiting For A Miracle, MISSED Tore Up Over You, That Lucky Old Sun, Tangled Up In Blue

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Leftover Salmon, 2012-10-05, The Bowery Ballroom, New York, NY

Written by Vernon Webb on October 6th, 2012

Leftover Salmon, a “Polyethnic Cajun Slamgrass” band hailing from Boulder Colorado, made a visit to New York City’s gorgeous Bowery Ballroom throwing down their form of Jam Band music. They, the slamgrass pioneers for 23 years now, were “one of the first bluegrass bands to add drums and tour rock & roll bars, helping them become a pillar of the jam band scene and unwitting architects of the jam grass genre.” The band currently consists of Vince Herman on acoustic guitar and vocals, the multi-talented Drew Emmitt on mandolin, electric guitar, fiddle and vocals, Greg Garrison on bass and vocals, Andy Thorn on banjo and last but not least Jose Martinez killing it on the skins.

Here is a view of what I saw:

Set List:
I: Carnival Time, Midnight Blues, Sing Up to the Moon, Bird Call, Gulf of Mexico, Tu Nas Pas Aller, Whispering Waters*, Sharon*, Walkin’ Shoes*, Tangled Up in Blue*>Singin’ the Blues*>Tangled Up in Blue*, II: Ants in My Pants, Here Comes the Night, Aquatic Hitchhiker, Up on the Hill Line Boogie*, Light Behind the Rain*, Reuben’s Train>Whole Lotta Love>Rockytop>Whole Lotta Love, Jokester, Reach E: Pasta on the Mountain>Hot Corn Cold Corn>Goin’ ‘Round the World>Wake & Bake * w/Ross Martin (guitar)


Relix: Railraod Earth and Amy Helm Band

Written by Vernon Webb on October 4th, 2012

You can see my photos of Railroad Earth and the Amy Helm Band at the State Theatre in New Brunswick, NJ



The Alan Evans Trio, 2012-09-30, Brooklyn Bowl, New York, NY

Written by Vernon Webb on October 3rd, 2012

With Alan Evans of Soulive on drums & vocals, Beau Sasser of Akashic Record on organ & Danny Mayer of the On The Spot Trio on guitar The Alan Evans Trio ends their nationwide tour at the Brooklyn Bowl. The trio’s sound proves hard driving and grooving with dark funky rhythms and blues lick solos. Shmeeans & The Expanded Consciousness & Mr. Breakdown, the opening acts, both proving to be on that stage as much as any other band that has walked through them doors.


Shmeeans & The Expanded Consciousness, 2012-09-30, Brooklyn Bowl

Written by Vernon Webb on October 2nd, 2012


Mr. Breakdown, 2012-09-30, Brooklyn Bowl, New York, NY

Written by Vernon Webb on October 2nd, 2012


Review: The Johnny Markowski Band, B.B. King, New York, NY, 2011-04-28

Written by Vernon Webb on April 29th, 2011

What is better than spending some time walking around New York City on a beautiful spring day? Seeing The Johnny Makowski Band at B.B. King Blues Club that very same evening! The band consists of Johnny Markowski (Stir Fried and the New Riders of the Purple Sage), son of the legendary producer and songwriter, Thomas Jefferson Kaye, on guitar and vocals, Ken Harten on keyboards, Dave Yanuzzi (first person to graduate Berkley on pedal steel) on pedal steel guitar, Clay Cassell (Wigjam) on drums, Perry Paletta (McMule) on mandolin, Vin Warner on the upright bass, Lizzy Friel (Reflections) on violin & vocals and Joanne Lediger (Stir Fried & McMule) on vocals.

The mood was light as Johnny hit the stage, sat down on a chair with his acoustic guitar and conversed with audience for a bit. This being the band’s third show, one would find it hard pressed to believe after hearing this tight knit group. The music was very reminiscent of Neil Young with a country twist, covering tunes from rock, blues, bluegrass and folk. Add Johnny’s bluesy voice and acoustic guitar work, the golden voices of Joanne and Lizzy, to that of Perry’s awesome mandolin playing and Lizzy’s rocking violin, the driving beat of both Vin and Clay in the rhythm section with Ken’s piano work adding to the feel and passion of each piece and top it off with some serious moments of intense jamming and you have a unique sound that sat very well with the audience and a force to be reckoned with.

Moments of note for this listener were “Shades of Blue,” “Bouncin’ Off The Walls” a sweet duet between Joanne and Johnny, “I Know There’s Someone Else” with New Riders band mate Michael Falzarano and “Higher” also with Michael and Bobby DiBlasio. By the time the encores were played the audience was on their feet dancing, singing and begging for more. I for one am glad this band has come together, even if by happenstance, and hope to see it continue on to higher and higher heights.

Set list:
Shades of Blue, Rite Time, Everything Under The Sun, Cross That Bridge, Walk Tall, Shine A Light, Bouncin’ Off The Walls (Joann & Johnny Duet), Nyack, Messed Up Big Time, Chocolate California, Down For The Ride, 13 Steps, Ever Lovin’, Nothin’ To Do, * I Know There’s Someone Else, *+ Higher, Encores: All Cried Out, West of the Mississippi * with Michael Falzarano, + with Bobby DiBlasio


Review: Jam Stampede w/Kenny Brooks and Mark Karan, Brooklyn Bowl, Brooklyn, NY, 2011-04-19

Written by Vernon Webb on April 19th, 2011

Once again these guys grace us with their presence as they treat us with their own brand of Grateful Dead music, this time brining along a couple of friends from the Grateful Dead family to spice things up a bit. The band, consisiting of Tom Circosta on guitar and vocals, Klyph Black on bass and vocals, Freeman White on keys, Dave Diamond on drums and Mike Mizwinski (Miz) on some outstanding lead guitar and vocals. As a band, Jam Stampede can hold their own on on any given night but tonight’s special guest, both members of the extended Grateful Dead family, seriously helped to bring it home.

First, Mark Karan, who has played with a number of different artists throughout his career, Dave Mason, Huey Lewis, Paul Carrack, Delaney Bramlett, Sophie B. Hawkins, The Rembrandts, The Other Ones, Mickey Hart’s Planet Drum, Phil Lesh & Friends and is still playing with RatDog. Also on saxophone was Kenny Brooks, an outstanding player with an impressive resume. He has played with the Peck Allmond Group, Kotoja, Joe Henderson, Charlie Hunter, Mike Clark, Ohio Players, Steve Smith, Les Claypool, MMW, String Cheese Incident, Josh Roseman, Chuck MacKinnon, 41Funk Jam Band, RatDog and is co-founder of the hip/hop-jazz band called Alphabet Soup.

The Brooklyn Bowl, known for it’s Blue Ribbon food (the fried chicken is to die for) is a unique combination bar & grill, bowling alley and concert venue that creates an atmosphere that is just right for partying and getting down to live music. Oftentimes you can hear bowling balls barreling down lanes and knocking down pins in between songs as the bands play. This evening it was apparent that Dead-heads were in force as they came from near and far to hear what these boys were putting down and from the start it was apparent that they were ready to do just that.

Kenny Brooks came on stage first and played throughout the entire show with the members of Jam Stampede in tow. And the show was off with a rocking Jam > Mississippi Half Step > Big River > West LA Fadeaway segue that had the crowd dancing and moving as they got into the grove of things. Not much longer into the set Mark Karan and Jason Crosby on keys (a multi-talented New York area musician who sat in with so many bands too numerous to count, i.e. God Street Wine and Academy of Dust to name just a couple) came out on rocking version of Tennessee Jed and that is when things really started to get hot. Songs of note during the second set were Ballad of a Thin Man and a bluesy version of Death Don’t Have No Mercy as Mark Karan tore into the lyrics and laid down some serious riffs and still a funky version of Turn On Your Lovelight with Kenny Brooks adding flavor to this classic Grateful Dead favorite. The icing on the cake was the encore, a sweet version of Sugaree with Mark Karan on vocals. Throughout the night there were some seriously magical moments and some highs that everyone in attendance knew they were experiencing. This is not this reviewers first time seeing this band and if I have my way it will not be my last.

Set List:
SET 1 Jam> Mississippi Half Step> Big River>West LA Fadeaway, Hard To Handle, *+ Tennessee Jed, *+ Cassidy, *+ The Wheel> *+ Brown Eyed Woman, *+ Goin Down The Road Feelin Bad

SET 2 * Shakedown Street> * It Takes A Lot To Laugh, It Takes A Train to Cry, * Other One> * Death Don’t Have No Mercy, * Ballad Of A Thin Man> * Don’t Let Go> * Wharf Rat> * Morning Dew> * Turn On Your Lovelight E: * Sugaree
* with Mark Karan, + with Jason Crosby, Kenny Brooks all songs

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Lo Faber and Aaron Maxwell play with Reflections @ Mexicali Live, Teaneck, NJ, 2011-04-09

Written by Vernon Webb on April 11th, 2011

As spring continues it’s trek through the Tri-State Area, so too do the duo of Lo Faber and Aaron Maxwell of God Street Wine. Much to the surprise of the crowd and to Reflections, a popular local area band, Lo and Aaron grace the stage first as they open for them. Aside from this diversion from the norm, as is typical with this lineup of the God Street Wine offspring, the setting was intimate as both Lo and Aaron were seated on stools with a couple of acoustic guitars. The mood in the air was very light and the playing simply magical. They played many crowd favorites and a few rarities like Merle Haggard’s “Pancho and Lefty” as well as their own “Molly,” “Edgar,” “Nightingale,” “Waiting For The Tide,” “Thirsty,” “Electrocute” and “Run To You.” Near the end of their set they invited the birthday girl, Lizzy Friel, on stage for three tunes, “Dead Flowers,” “Dark Hollow” and “Swing Low Sweet Chariot.”

After a brief intermission Reflections hit the stage changing the mood and bringing the crowd to their feet with their own style of Grateful Dead music as those kids they danced and shook their bones. Three songs into their first set Aaron Maxwell joined them on stage with an electric guitar and ripped into “Waiting for a Miracle,” & “Get Out of My Life” also lending his vocals to the mix. A song after he left the stage Lo joined the band, also lending his guitar licks and vocals, as he rocked out on “Midnight Moonlight,” “Sugaree” and then joined in on the singing and wishing Lizzy a Happy Birthday as they surprised her with a birthday cake decorated with a Steal Your Face Skull. A good time was had by one and all and a time soon not forgotten by anyone in attendance.

Lo Faber and Aaron Maxwell
Poor Boy, Weird Dream, Goodnight Gretchen, Electrocute, Ballroom, Northern Sky, Run to You, Edgar, Strange as it Seems, New Eyes, Waiting for the Tide, Nightingale, Poncho and Lefty, My Babe, Wendy, Molly, Thirsty, Dead Flowers *, Dark Hollow *, Swing Low Sweet Chariot *
* with Lizzy Friel

Set I: Miss half step, Wild Horses, Waiting for a Miracle *, Get Out of My Life *, Twilight, Midnight Moonlight **, Sugaree**, Happy Birthday **, Brown Eyed Women, Let it Grow, Cats Under the Stars, Set II: Expressway, Mission in the Rain, Foolish Heart, After Midnight-> Eleanor Rigby-> After Midnight **, Estimated Prophet-> China Doll-> Feel Like a Stranger E: Box of Rain
* with Aaron Maxwell, ** with Lo Faber

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Steve Kimock Final Night of Residency at Sullivan Hall, NYC, 4-6-2011

Written by Vernon Webb on April 7th, 2011

On this, the final night of Steve Kimocks NYC 2011 Residency, it was obvious from the start that it was going to be a night full of some serious jammy music as Moonalice took the stage to a sold out audience at Sullivan Hall for an hour of some throw-down, foot-stopping music. Sharing the stage this evening and playing to the wee hours of the morning with Steve Kimock, were two powerhouse members of Moonalice, Pete Sears and John Molo along with Andy Hess, former member of Gov’t Mule and The Black Crowes on bass. As has been the norm for Kimock’s residency, here was a band that had not teamed up before and yet, as true professionals, these guys never missed a lick and were tight as any band could be. By the end of the night there wasn’t a dry body in the house and nearly every person their tiny little bit of the hall dance and grooved. Sullivan Hall, for sure, are going to miss these Wednesday evening jam fests and hoping for yet another residency soon and if this reviewer would like to suggest perhaps a permanent residency?

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