JGB Review

Hard Rock Cafe – Pittsburgh, PA – 10/14/12

“After Jerry’s death, some of the older fans, who had seen Jerry, sort of boycotted JGB,”  Melvin Seals stated in a phone interview prior to his upcoming tour.  “Their kids came, but they didn’t.  I think they thought we were trying to replace him (Jerry), but our goal wasn’t to replace him but to honor his legacy,”  the soulful Seals stated.  Judging from the crowd at the Hard Rock Cafe in Pittsburgh, PA on October 14th, it looks as though the older crowd is starting to come around.   Youthful, clean shaven faces boogied next to heads filled with gray hair and whiskers, both singing along to the songs with a sense of conviction not normally seen at shows with such varied age groups.

JGB pulled into Pittsburgh after performing in Logan, OH at Family Roots Fall Fest., and the indoor venue suited them well.  With Melvin’s Hammond B-3 posted to on the left hand side facing the stage, David “ABear” Hebert’s axe on the right,  the headless bass of Jimmy Tebeau along with the backup singers microphones gracing the middle of the stage and the drums of Peter Lavezzoli in the rear, the stage was set for a memorable night of the favorites of Jerry Garcia.  “You see, in the Grateful Dead, everyone voted on everything.  With JGB, these are the songs JERRY loved, the songs JERRY wanted to play,” Seals explained.   JGB came out firing on all cylinders with the Smoky Robinson/Al Cleveland Motown favorite Second that Emotion, then moseyed into Wonderful World, with crisp harmonies and impressive vocals.   Other highlights included Garcia favorite Thats What Love will Make you Do, a song that was performed nearly 200 times by the Jerry Garcia Band and Garcia/Merle Saunders from 1974 to 1994. 

The dancefloor got a little tight when the band pulled out a rare Like A Road > That’s Alright Mama, a song most famous for being Elvis Presley’s first released single.  With swinging lyrics and a quick bluesy feel, Hebert shined on this selection, “That’s Alright Mamma, that’s alright for you, that’s alright Momma, Any way you do.”  Another highlight was a memorable Sisters and Brothers, with Jimmy Tebeau playing to the crowd and posing for pictures, peeking from under his black derby hat overflowing with dreadlocks.   JGB closed with the iconic Dylan song Tangled up in Blue, where Seals took center stage with some impressive keyboard work.  Hebert, Tebeau and Seals were the focus of the show, but all band members shined at different points during the evening.   They all have an infectious stage presence that cannot be denied.  So, if you’re one of those Jerry Garcia die-hards that boycotted JGB in the 90’s, we welcome you back with open arms.  Melvin Seals and JGB continue to demostrate the reason why the music of Jerry Garcia will live on.