The music began early on the final day of the Skull and Roses Festival in Ventura. A hot offshore wind heated up the day by the time the drum circle started at 10 am. Overhead waves from a late spring storm exploded across Ventura point buffeted by the strong sideshow winds sending long plumes of salt spray high int the air. The strong winds stirred up a cloud of dust that helped turn the sunny day into an eerie orange haze.
Music fans tired of nearly three days of nonstop partying began sipping beer and coffee from festival vendors and getting their third wind by the time music legend Melvin Seals and JGB took the stage just after 1 pm. A veteran of the original Jerry Garcia Band, Melvin Seals brought his current version of the JGB band to the festival for the third year in a row. The band played classic covers that got the sleepy crowd dancing. The master musician, with dual Leslie speakers attached to his keyboards, led the group through a bluesy dance inspiring set.
The theme of the day was Mardis Gras with many in the crowd wearing their most festive costumes and the next band to take the main stage could not have been more in tune with that theme. The Rebirth Brass Band brought the authentic sounds of New Orleans to the festival. The group was founded in 1983 by tuba/sousaphone player Philip Frazier and his brother, bass drummer Keith Frazier. Other current members of the band include Derrick Tabb (snare drum), Chadrick Honoré (trumpet), Glenn Hall III (trumpet), Gregory Veals (trombone), Stafford Agee (trombone), and Vincent Broussard (tenor saxophone). The band, which won a Grammy in 2012 played a spirited afternoon set that had nearly everyone in the crowd dancing.
The final set of the day was led by the genuinely legendary bass player Oteil Burbridge. Seriously, who else can say that they played bass for an extended period with the Aquarium Rescue Unit, Allman Brothers Band, Dead & Company, and the Tedeschi Trucks Band? Oteil brought his masterful musical skills integrating jazz, funk and rock material into a jam band set featuring some of his famous friends. Melvin Seals returned to the stage to play cheerful organ blasts. John Kadlecik brought a raging lead guitar to the jam. The guitarist is another veteran musician from the Dead world with impeccable credentials. He helped found Dark Star Orchestra in 1997 and played with them until 2009 until he moved on to the Furthur band. He also played with Phil Lesh and Friends. He brought all that experience to the phenomenal final jam at Skull and Roses 2019. Veteran guitarist Scott Metzger from Joe Russo’s Almost Dead held his own during dueling guitar solos with Kadlecik. John Morgan Kimock, son of Steve Kimock, laid down the drum rhythms for the band. Veteran percussionist Weedie Braimah joined the jam rounding out the core players. Halfway through the set, they were joined by the Rebirth Brass Band for a New Orleans inspired superjam. It was a spectacular end to Skull and Roses 2019.