Melvin Seals & The Jerry Garcia Band 12.29.11
Quixote's true Blue
Words & Photos By J-man
Audio Recording By Corey Sandoval (Kind Recordings)
What better way to kick off the New Years run of shows than The Jerry Garcia Band at Quixote's? Located on the outskirts of downtown Denver, Quixote's is basically a mecca or a museum for Grateful Dead fans. Three nights of JGB seemed only fitting for such an establishment. Leading up to the event I spoke with promoter, Jay Bianchi, regarding upcoming ticket giveaways and he was kind enough to open up the guestlist to fans of MusicMarauders... One hundred and fifty people later, the ultimate miracle was in place.
I arrived at the venue shortly before 8:00 to find that the party had already begun. Folks were assembling and pre-gaming with a purpose. The venue looked great, lit with Christmas lights and a colorful array of artwork. In the back of the room resident painter, Don Callarman's beautiful work was on display for the wide-eyed fans. It's easy to get lost in Don's work and many did.
As showtime approached folks began to pour into Quixote's. It was great to see so many familiar faces as well as a delight to meet a bunch of new folks. People were so gracious and excited about being guestlisted that it elevated the vibe significantly. It was clear that the crowd came to get down on some soulful JGB tunes. Outside the weather was mild, creating a very accommodating outdoor gathering throughout the night.
The first band of the evening was Quixotes frequenter, Whiskey Tango. I have seen these guys open for bands several times at Quixote's and whereas they have always been enjoyable, what I saw that night at Quixote's seemed like a completely different band. The music consisted of less "sloppy" jamming and more structure. I really enjoyed the band's instrumentation and progressions. I look forward to checking them out in a headlining position.
While Whiskey Tango wrapped up in the main room, Shakedown Street began in the back room. Shakedown almost always impresses me. Their passion for Dead music is evident in their near perfect covers of Grateful Dead material. That night they performed some great versions of classic favorites to a sizable and appreciative crowd. Their tone was fantastic and reaffirmed why Shakedown Street is one of my favorite Dead cover bands.
Looking around the room, almost everyone was smiling and many were dancing as if no one were looking. It was a very free and open vibe. I stepped outside for a breath of fresh air only to find that even more friends had arrived. As the cosmos shifted, Quixote's became the center of the universe... and in the background, Melvin Seals' organ could be heard wailing from inside the majestic venue.
JGB Live at Quixote's True Blue on December 29, 2011.
SET I: Stop That Train>Second That Emotion>Run For The Roses, Strugglin' Man>Rhapsody In Red, Catfish John>Lonesome & A Long Way From Home
SET II: Get Out Of My Life Woman, Gomorrah>Lay Down Sally, Mission In The Rain>Don't Let Go, Waiting For A Miracle>My Sisters & Brothers>Midnight Moonlight
The Jerry Garcia Band opened with a beautiful "Stop That Train" that segued into "Second That Emotion." What a way to open their first set! The crowd was thrilled and you could feel the anticipation of what was to come. "Run For The Roses" followed with consistent sweet tones pouring off of the stage. Melvin smiled as the crowd reciprocated the incredible energy. "Strugglin' Man" went into "Rhapsody in Red," followed by "Catfish John". As I stood listening, I closed my eyes and was taken by the music.
The band sounded incredible. I was really impressed with Dave Herbert's sound on the guitar. He played the Jerry part as well as I've ever heard played and was an integral part of the magnificent chemistry that was taking place. As Dave noodled through scales I found myself in a state of extreme happiness. Also contributing to the sweet sound was Cheryl Rucker and Shirley Starks on vocals. Their pure, soulful vocals melted my heart and elevated the musical experience immeasurably.
The opening guitar riff leading into "Lonesome & A Long Way From Home" sent the crowd into a dancing frenzy. There were a lot of places to be in Denver that night, but it was then that I realized I was exactly where I was supposed to be. With The Jerry Garcia Band taking a set break, Shakedown Street came alive once again in the back room.
I sat with friends in the courtyard, enjoying the great company and incredible vibes when I heard "Scarlet Begoinians" coming from an open door into the back room. I wanted to remain in the refreshing open air of the courtyard, but was drawn in by the music. To the back room I headed where it was less crowded than their first set. Again, Shakedown was extremely enjoyable. I began to space out to the music and when I came to, the room was once again packed with adoring fans.
In the main room the second set opened with "Get Out of My Life Woman" keeping the dance party going as Melvin noodled on the keys. His vocals sounded good and fit well with the harmonies of the Cheryl and Shirley. Jimmy Tebeau sounded great on the bass creating a fantastic rhythm section with drummer, Peter Lavezzoli.
"Gomorrah" transitioned into "Lay Down Sally," followed by "Mission in The Rain" that went into one of my favorite songs that the JGB does, "Don't Let Go." The track clocked in over sixteen minutes and I loved the call and response with Melvin singing a line followed by the women singing "Don't let go, don't let go."
The evening closed with a great run of songs! It started with "Waiting For A Miracle" and went into "My Sisters & Brothers" then transitioned into a ten minute "Midnight Moonlight" to close the show. What a beautiful night of music it was!
There were many places we all could have been, but we came together at Quixote's to celebrate music, tradition, friendship and life. That night, Quixote's was indeed the center of the universe...
"We can all be together shakin' our hand when we make it to the promised land..."
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