JGB, Moonalice & David Gans 3.26.11
Words & Photos By J-man
In the midst of our Grateful Deadication Week, we had the pleasure of catching Moonalice, David Gans and The Jerry Garcia Band at Quixote's in Denver, Colorado. Coming through the main entrance of the venue, fans we greeted by The Grateful Dead on the house speakers, the smell of jerked Jamaican food and a decent crowd of really good folks. The minute our senses were overloaded with great vibes, we knew it would be a great evening!
Rewind to earlier in the day...
I sat at the MusicMarauders "office" listening to Sirius Sattellite radio, composing questions for my interview with "Tales From The Golden Road" host David Gans. As I listened to his show live, David took calls from Dead fans all over the country, provided a lot of personal insight and even had The Donna Jean Goddeux Band on live for a studio session and discussion. I constantly found myself impressed with the depth of the conversation on such a unique show. I collected my equipment and headed to Quixote's.
To our surprise, we entered Quixote's to find the venue dark. On the stage was Jay Bianchi, the owner of Quixote's and a local promoter who helped to fuel the Denver music scene.
"Where is David? I thought he was broadcasting live from here?" I asked, confused.
"He's back in my office broadcasting right now." Jay informed me.
Jay offered us a seat at the bar poured us a couple of beers and put on an early Dead set on the house speakers. It was a nostalgic feeling, sitting inside one of my favorite venues, with shadows cast on the dance floor and the disco ball ever spinning. Jerry's haunting ballads took me to the outer realm of my mind as we sat at the bar putting the final touches on the interview and waiting for our guest.
Jay filled us in on the large turnout from the night prior. As the radio show concluded David Gans came around the corner from the back of the venue with a smile on his face. We headed out to the courtyard for a conversation...
Following our interview we headed home for a couple of hours to re-charge our equipment and prepare for the evening's festivities. Returning to Quixote's a few hours later, we were confused to hear that the schedule had been switched around. We ended up missing David Gans' first set of the evening, but arrived just a couple of songs into Moonalice's set in the back room of the venue.
Moonalice Live at Quixote's True Blue on March 27, 2011.
The back room was somewhat crowded for Moonalice, a band that continues on in the hippie traditions boasting that they are with no label, have no manager, no publicist and no problems. Their sound spawned out of rock and folk roots. I really enjoyed their playing and stage presence. Though their playing was not very technical or progressive, I found myself captivated. There is something to be said for good vibes, solid music and open artistic expression.
My attention was drawn to drummer John Molo, who weaved in and out of different styles within each song. I was impressed by the variety of his playing within a band that didn't venture to far out of of the jam/rock/folk realm. Barry Sless' playing on guitar along with Pete Sears on keyboard and bass, really opened up the jams. Chubby Wombat's playing on the pedal steel added a great layer to the jams and melodies of the songs and Ann MacNamee's vocals added some pretty harmonies and vocal phrasings.
Wandering in and out of the back room the vibe was consistent throughout the venue. Moonalice really got the energy flowing. Following the set, members of the band chatted with fans and hung out. Wandering back into the main room we were surprised to see how many folks were hanging out awaiting the Jerry Garcia Band, eating, drinking and enjoying the evening. There were kids running around, dancing to the house music and raging in the casted reflection of the disco ball.
The Jerry Garcia Band...
JGB Live at Quixote's True Blue on March 27, 2011.
Melvin Seals and The JGB took the stage to a very warm reception. From the get go the groove was heavy. Melvin's playing on the organ was pure and soulful and the music took our minds on a journey though emotion-filled solos and instrumentation. It was as if each instrument cried out with passion. The female vocalists at times completely stole the show with their haunting and clean singing just about bringing me to my knees.
How is it that Jerry has been dead for sixteen years and yet this incarnation of his project is so connected? I feel odd saying this, but I think Jerry would have been proud. I dug not only their focus on the Jerry Band material, but the Jerry ballads specifically that he was performing with the the Dead, such as "Sugaree". The highlight of their set came in the form of a "Expressway to Your Heart", "Going Down The Road", "Catsish John" and "Deal".
I had heavily considered the influence of nostalgia on the JGB's current semi-success and came to the conclusion that the band and music stands on it's own. It was a pleasure to finally catch Melvin Seals and the JGB.
David Gans Live at Quixote's True Blue on March 27, 2011.
David hit the stage to an almost empty venue, as his second set of the evening was a tweener set (set break filler). Standing on stage alone with his guitar, he jumped into a jam, competing with the chatter of the crowd. The jam involved some looping and utilization of Grateful Dead riffs from different songs such as "St. Stephen" and "Chinacat". Though not complex, his music, tones and playing sounded beautiful. His vocals, much like Jerry's were folky and passionate.
His lyrics were quirky and relateable. The song that stood out to me most was a Bob Dylan-like song called "Who Killed Uncle John?" that rattles through some interesting perspectives. It was easy to connect with David's roots oriented music, as he created a really positive and unique vibe within' Quixote's. His set really completed the evening for me and following his departure from the stage and the re-entrance of The JGB, we made our way to the door.
J-man's Photo Gallery
That evening in Denver was one of the most enjoyable evenings, with the best vibes that I had felt in some time. It was truly magical...