Last weekend, the legendary jam band Zero concluded a prolific 35th anniversary run aptly named “Back to Zero.” Core members Steve Kimock, Greg Anton, Pete Sears, Melvin Seals, and Hadi Al-Saddoon were joined by friends and family for an invigorating reunion that pleased newer fans and decade-spanning devotees alike.
This incarnation of the band, which was established in the early 1980s, included Melvin Seals (keyboards), Pete Sears (bass, backing vocals), Hadi Al-Saadoon (trumpet, backing vocals), and Sebastian Saint James (lead vocals, rhythm guitar), with Miles Kimock contributing additional guitar passages in the second set. Steve Kimock had worked with Seals and Sears in the recent past, and with Al-Saadoon in Zero’s early days. Saint James, who was new to the Zero fold, gelled well with the group.
Thirty-five years ago, having met when Steve Kimock auditioned for former Grateful Dead members Keith and Donna Jean Godchaux’s Heart of Gold Band (which already had Greg Anton as its drummer), Greg and Steve recorded an album, Greg on drums and piano, Steve on guitars and bass. Then they started a band to play the music.
And what musical lives they’ve been! Nelson and Cage, both synonymous with many decades of NRPS’ psychedelicized countrified stylings, have entertained concert audiences and home listeners with many, many other bands – Nelson with the David Nelson Band, as well as Old & In the Way, Jerry Garcia Acoustic Band, The Good Old Boys, Dead Ringers, Al Rapone & the Zydeco Express, The Papermill Creek Rounders, and way back in the early 1960s with the Wildwood Boys bluegrass band alongside Jerry Garcia and Robert Hunter. Cage, in addition to his storied career with the NRPS, has delivered his trademark pedal steel guitar articulations with Great Speckled Bird, Stir Fried, Solar Circus, The Brooklyn Cowboys, Terry & the Pirates, and on substantial studio work with Bob Dylan and Anne Murray.
In their forth outstanding gig at San Rafael’s Terrapin Crossroads this year, The Rock Collection brought an evening of originals, and beloved covers dissimilar to anything fans had seen of them yet. Any act under the jam band umbrella has to keep their shows diverse night to night, but what makes The Rock Collection standalone is the sheer combination of talent and background that allows the music to take off different directions on any given night.
Certain bonds never fade away. It has been quite a while since guitar icon Steve Kimock and legendary drummer Greg Anton have performed together as their original band, Zero. They were the originators of “jam band” before that was even coined or acknowledged. Back then there was a variety of genres. Rock, soul, jazz, blues, on and on, Zero encompassed them all.
GW: This is Dylan Muhlberg of Grateful Web here with Bay Area music legend Greg Anton. Greg began his professional career in the late 70s drumming with Keith and Donna Godchaux’s Heart of Gold Band. Later he cofounded the prolific Jam Band Zero. Since he’s participated in countless musical endeavors and projects. He’s a lawyer and an advocate for marijuana legalization. And now he’s an author. But instead of an autobiography he wrote a novel.