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DVD Review: Jerry Garcia Band – Live At Shoreline

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Guest Reviewer Fumo Verde

On September 1, 1990, the Grateful Dead were scheduled to perform at the Shoreline Amphitheatre in Mountain View, California, but couldn’t due to the recent death of keyboardist Brent Mydland less than two months earlier. Instead of canceling the show, Jerry decided the best solution was to have the Jerry Garcia Band step in and perform.

This show wasn’t an homage to an old friend or a played-out patronizing tribute for the fans; it was about the music and the soul inside the band. The members of the JGB are its namesake on guitar and lead vocals, Melvin Seals on keyboards, John Kahn on bass, David Kemper on drums, and Gloria Jones and Jackie Labranch providing backing vocals.

Opening up the first song of set one was “How Sweet It Is To Be Loved By You,” written by Lamont Dozier and Brian and Eddie Holland for the Motown label. The JGB plays it different than any of Motown’s artists who have performed it, coming out with bluesy-essence, almost ragtimesque in spirit. This gets the crowd involved, although since this is recorded right through the soundboard, you can barely hear the crowd at all, yet you can see it in the face of the band.

From that, they go into “Stop that Train” and for all of us natty-dreads we feel the roots of this one. Written by Peter Tosh and preformed by Bob Marley & the Wailers on their debut album, Catch A Fire, Fumo’s favorite, Jerry’s voice is so different than Marley’s or Tosh’s as it catches the vibe and roots of tale being told. Next up, “Dear Prudence” taken from The Beatles, and then into Dylan’s “I Shall Be Released.” Each of these songs is not played as a cover, but as new sounds being experimented on by a highly talented team of professionals. The first set ends with the Hunter/Garcia original, “Deal,” which captures the glory of the old west

The second set is filled with just as much energy and emotion. too. “I Second That Emotion” by Smokey Robinson. Again, the JGB redefines the song from a Motown pop icon into a folksy, almost-southern-rock tempo that could make white men jump. “Think” by Jimmy McCracklin, a blues song if there ever was one, is played that way with emotion flowing out of every pore of Jerry’s body, but the killer-diller of the show, the song that lets him, his guitar, and the band unleash their souls is the Gillespe/Smith tune, “That Lucky Old Sun.” It has been performed through the years by many of the greats: Frank Sinatra, Tony Bennett, Dean Martin, and Bing Crosby, but according to biographer Blair Jackson in the “Interview” section, Ray Charles’ version was Jerry’s favorite interpretation and that is the style he emulates. If he were singing one for his old friend Brent, then here it is. As always, the JGB leaves on a positive note with another Dylan tune; “Tangled Up In Blue” is played in that old “rhythm and Dead” style.

The music here is on fire from beginning to end, being rooted in folk, gospel and R&B. With the genius of Jerry at the helm, the experimentation keeps on truckin’ even into the ‘90s. The camera work is your basic concert footage. The interviews are too short and don’t really cover the event as it happened, but it is good to hear from the band members. Robert Hunter also gives an interview, again way to short, but he is a busy man.

All in all, this is a great DVD, be you a Deadhead, a Jerry freak, or someone who just likes to have live concerts to watch in your humble abode; Jerry Garcia Band Live At Shoreline is one of those shows. Jerry is all about the music and this performance shows you that.

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About Gordon S. Miller

Gordon S. Miller is the artist formerly known as El Bicho, the nom de plume he used when he first began reviewing movies online for The Masked Movie Snobs in 2003. Before the year was out, he became that site's publisher. Over the years, he has also contributed to a number of other sites as a writer and editor, such as FilmRadar, Film School Rejects, High Def Digest, and Blogcritics. He is the Publisher of Cinema Sentries. Some of his random thoughts can be found at twitter.com/ElBicho_CS
  • http://www.iamcorrect.com Lono

    I can only imagine this is an amazing set. The setlist reminds me of the Jery Garcia Band Live double disc set which is life affirming to say the least.

    I saw the Dead during that era (saw Brent Mydland’s last shows back East) and saw Jerry band play San Diego around then too. I think Jerry was doing some of his finest playing and singing back then. I am sure someone will crucify me for that, and perhaps I am biases because I saw so many shows that year.

  • http://www.thebmrant.com Matt

    EB–for a minute I thought this was a gig review. I was beside myself that they’d still be touring without Jerry. The never of them.

  • RogerMDillion

    Sorry for the false alarm, Matt, but the powers that be want Music Videos under Music

  • IgnatiusReilly

    I got to see this band at the Wiltern in LA, CA. Good time from what I can remember, and good sound

  • El Bicho

    I could certainly understand the outrage, Matt. I just wonder where those cats are now. I’m sure they aren’t playing as close to the same size places. I would be okay if they used Legion of Mary, though.

    And yes, Roger is correct. Although I think Videos should go under Video, but that will have to wait until I start up Bichocritics.org, a sinister hive of…

  • http://www.iamcorrect.com Lono

    oh, it gets weirder. Last month I saw an ad in the Westword (Denver’s indenpendent rag) for

    “Jerry Garcia Band at the Fox Theatre”

    seriously, it said that in huge letters. Needless to say it caught my eye. Then it said in very small print under it ‘original surviving members’.

    more than just fucked up and a dash exploitive… it is creepy. Anyhow, the point being that the Jerry Garcia band is still touring. Weird, huh?

  • El Bicho

    I did some research and found that Melvin Seals & JGB is on tour right now.

    From the website:

    “It was last summer at a concert in the Rockies when Melvin played for the first time with a New Jersey-based Grateful Dead tribute band called Ripple and felt compelled to start a new JGB band.”

    http://www.jgbband.com

    Odd no mention of the family giving the go-ahead. maybe using JGB is how they get around it.

  • Allen

    Yes, the remaining members of the Jerry Garcia Band still tour, usually under the name of JGB. While hearing the music of the Grateful Dead or the Jerry Garcia Band will NEVER be the same without Jerry, it is still a very good time. Melvin Seals and Gloria Jones are the two most notable and recognized members still in the band, and the set lists are very similiar to oldschool Jerry Band shows. I know this because I’ve worked since 1998 or so with JGB and all of its different incarnations, and would not trade a second of it for anything. :)