Melvin Seals and JGB with Ron Holloway at 5 Points
Having seen Melvin Seals and JGB last year about this time at the Jefferson Theatre in Charlottesville, Virginia, it was only fitting that I would head down to my favorite venue, 5 Points Music Sanctuary to check them out again. It's always a pleasure to come to Roanoke and see live music with Tyler Godsey and his crew at 5 Points. I am happy to announce a partnership and look forward to working together in the coming months. I was surprised to see, Ron Holloway join the band on the stage for the evening but it was quite the added bonus. Ron has been a staple in the Jam community for quite some time and I have seen him play with numerous bands over the years including: Gov’t Mule, Widespread Panic and The Allman Brothers. Ron is a master sit-in artist and his saxophone style highlights the evening’s musical extravaganza.
Opening with a "Stop That Train" that felt spiritual in the sanctuary; the lights blazing and the ladies singing. Zach Nugget as always, stays solid and on-point with Jerry Garcia’s tones and licks always in mind but keeping a fresh and interesting approach; this wouldn't be the same without him. It would be hard to find anyone more suiting for the position. I have been following Zach, since I saw him last year and his guitar ability has only grown. I look for Zach to become even more popular as JGB tours and The Grateful Dead legacy expands.
The band would go on to play, "The Way You Do The Things You Do" and a funky "Lay Down Sally." I watched Melvin’s left foot hover over his pedal underneath his organ and it was as if he is was truly dancing behind the keys. It’s easy to see why Jerry called Melvin “The Master Of The Universe.” He was the soul of JGB and Jerry was the heart. Looking on this legendary player, I cant help but imagine all the crazy things that organ has seen; all the experiences with Jerry and beyond. I look forward to talking with him one day and maybe, I will get to ask him these questions myself.
"Eyes Of The World" included an amazing saxophone solo from Holloway, which was reminiscent of something Branford would produce. Holloway would sit solemnly in the corner of the sanctuary, just taking in the music, coming alive when it was time for his solo. “EOTW” had a little scatting from Sunshine Becker, who adds a great voice to this band. While, I originally thought she was somehow related to Garcia, she only sends similar vibrations from onstage and is not related. Melvin and JGB would round into "Midnight Moonlight" with Ron bringing in Dixie.
"Shakedown Street" was high-energy and brimming with excitement for the second set opener. This is why I always see Melvin and JGB when they come to Virginia. They can really whip the crowd into a frenzy, while still remaining calm and collective. "After Midnight" was always a Jerry favorite and this rendition highlighted Zach’s guitar work and Melvin's incredible organ playing; together symbiotically, these two have quite the repertoire with one another. "Simple Twist Of Fate" and "Harder They Come" brought the JGB original song selections and "Promised Land" highlighted the end of the performance in the sanctuary.
This band keeps the spirit of Jerry Garcia Band alive and vibrant. The Grateful Dead and Jerry Garcia's legacy is expansive and still touches the hearts of its devote listeners today. I immediately went home and listened to JGB 'Cats Down Under The Stars' on vinyl and I was transfixed and transported into a timeless musical moment with Jerry by my side and in my ears. It’s always a pleasure to hear Melvin and his band do their thing.
I Need More Dead,
Jam Band Purist
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Editor: Robert (R.A.) Fadley
Freelance Writer, Musicologist, Music Journalist, Music Critic, Music Writer, Author, Musician, Singer-songwriter, Composer, Guitarist.