JGB | Fox Theater | Boulder, Colorado
The night started out cold and rainy, which is almost as unlikely in Boulder as the Jerry Garcia Band has been. Ironically, I inquired to my wife about two weeks before the announcement of the show, while listening to the JGB recording from Kean College 1980 about when they will play in Boulder again. I saw them play in San Diego last summer, but I was itching to see them again. Then, the announcement came, and I was looking forward to seeing this show.
First, a local bluegrass band named Mumbouli opened the show. I'm not always into the openers, but this band has talent. One song that was memorable was one of Jerry Garcia's early favorite songs to play and Irish classic, "Whiskey in the Jar." Another welcomed surprise came when they brought special guests Mark Schimick, the mandolin player for the flat-picking guitar master's band, Larry Keel and the Experience, and the fun local banjo picker form Shanti Groove, Jason Flournoy up to the stage for a boot kickin' encore.
The Jerry Garcia Band has been an inspiration and the "keepers of the flame" for serious dead heads for years now after the passing of the band's namesake. It is lead by the great Melvin Seals who Jerry nicknamed the Master of the Universe because of his many talents. When Melvin came on the stage with an enormous grin from ear to ear the crowd cheered with respect. The show started with a long song with a reggae beat and a beautiful guitar solo with the tones of Jerry himself played by Stu Allen, a founding member of The Jones Gang, a Grateful Dead cover band out of Minneapolis. The drummer, Sam Howard, who is also from The Jones Gang, led the back beat into the next classic song called, "That's What Love Will Make You Do." Melvin Seals sang this song with a mountain of soul in his voice. Then he ripped into a ridiculously smokin' Hammond B3 solo, and the crowd went crazy and continued to sing along.
This sparked the Garcia/Hunter "Cats Down Under the Stars," which has been jammed on regularly by JGB from its introduction in 1977. Then came a super fun soulful tune written by Native American harmonica legend Norton Buffalo called, "Ain't No Bread in the Bread Box." This was a song that JGB played regularly in the 1990's. Next, came the classic epic song "Gomorrah," which is about the two cities destroyed by God for their sins. The song makes sure to mention the wife of Lot who was melted into salt because of her resistance to God due to looking back at the two burning cities. The last lines of the song are specifically mentioned repeatedly, "Because she looked back." The JGB band never looked back. After this tune they slipped into the set closer and one of my favorite Elvis Presley songs, "Train."
The band did not miss a beat as they came back on and played the Garcia/Hunter song, "Rhapsody in Red," which they played from 1978-1985 and then seemingly dropped it from the repertoire. This song was a great opener to lead into the swingin' and jazzy "Torn Up Over You." This was played with a very deep organ tone and a thick bass line by Bay Area bassist Marty Holland who has been collaborating with Melvin Seals for years. They mellowed it down with a smooth version of "Dear Prudence" and "Mission in the Rain," where Stu Allen's Garcia style singing was haunting. The second set's last two songs got the crowd going once more with terrific versions of "Sisters and Brothers" and "Tangled Up in Blue." The show's finale was a sing-a-long "How Sweet It Is to Be Loved by You." This JGB show was a show that provoked great feelings and memories for many that have intensely deep ties with the founder. There were even two "Jerryettes" on stage singing uplifting background vocals throughout the night. After all was said and done, the tradition continued in Boulder on this quiet weekday night of nostalgia.