reCAP :: Melvin Seals & JGB :: 2016.03.04
“Let’s Spend the Night Together” launched a diverse evening of music by Melvin Seals and JGB. The joint was jumping as guitarist, Dave Hebert, reeled off quick-picking licks cushioned by the warm sound of Melvin’s Hammond B-3 organ. This Rolling Stones classic segued into Jimmy Cliff’s, “The Harder They Come.” A wide smile filled Melvin’s face as the hissing and swishing sounds of the Hammond engulfed The Cap. The soulful funky rhythms had me flashing back to 1983, when Melvin and Jerry gave this tune a fifteen-minute ride in the Roseland Ballroom.
In jam band motif, Seals engaged his dancing devotees with a five-tune medley that ended with a stunning performance of “Valerie.” Hebert unloaded a climatic blues jam that drew thunderous applause and howling yodels from the grateful audience. After that rousing version of an underrated Hunter/ Garcia composition, the band softly began playing, “If I Had the World to Give,” another Hunter/ Garcia number that was played only four times by the Grateful Dead. It was the first time I’d seen Melvin and crew play this, and it was a chilling thrill.
The unpredictable flow of the show continued with a funky instrumental jam that reminded me of a classic Saunders/ Garcia jam. I couldn’t name that tune and later found out it was a new Seals composition called, “Applegate.” Hopefully Melvin and JGB are planning an album of originals because this jam was engaging. The set closed out with a rocking “That’s All Right Mama.” Between sets, a large portion of the audience went into Garcia’s to check out the high-energy playing of the Marcus King Band—Festival Night comes to Port Chester.
The red curtains were parted on the Cap stage and “How Sweet It Is” opened set two. In relaxed ’76 JGB style, Hebert delivered a long, hypnotic jam during “The Way You Do the Things You Do.” Hebert had a stellar night, and with his long hair and bushy beard, he’s beginning to look more and more like Garcia. The song choices remained intriguing, but the energy of the show eased towards the end. The band played one of Melvin’s favorite ballads, “That Lucky Old Sun,” and the set ended with another rarity, from the Cats Under the Stars outtakes, “Magnificent Sanctuary Band.” There was some old and a lot of new in tonight’s show. Melvin’s still on a mission, and his commitment to, and fascination with the music of the Jerry Garcia Band is stronger than ever.