The Jamie McLean Band has released their first live album, Live at Gibson, recorded January 12, 2012 at the Gibson Showroom in New York City. It’s a feel-good blues and southern rock treat, laced with sizzling guitar solos. The trio has been together since 2006, when former Dirty Dozen Brass Band guitarist and singer Jamie McLean joined with drummer Brian Griffin and bassist Ben Mars. Most of the 13 tracks are drawn from their recent releases, Sunday Morning, Time of My Life (both 2011), and Completely (2010). This is a band that clearly relishes live performance, and Live at Gibson simply drips with energy.
McLean can really tear it up on guitar, which makes Live at Gibson a consistently intense, enjoyable experience. The best tracks are the ones in which he builds a furious solo to climax a performance, with Griffin and Mars pushing him to new levels of expressiveness. A perfect example is “Open Up,” which ends with a terrifically raucous solo. His distinctive, economical style blends liberal doses of Eric Clapton and Stevie Ray Vaughan with a great instinctive sense of taking a song just to the breaking point. His tightly focused, extended solo on “Crazy About You” typifies this approach.
A couple of guest artists sit in with the band, including keyboardist and violinist Jason Crosby, known for his work with Robert Randolph and the Family Band (among many other artists). His keyboard embellishments flesh out the arrangements, adding considerably to tunes like “Cupid’s Greatest Thief.” Taylor Hicks joins the band for two songs, contributing searing vocals to the album opener “Country Living” and a cover of the Allman Brothers’ “Midnight Rider.” The hard-driving “Country Living” is easily a highlight of the album, also featuring Hicks on harmonica.
Speaking of Taylor Hicks, the Jamie McLean Band will be backing up the American Idol winner during his two-month residency at Bally’s in Las Vegas, beginning June 26, 2012. For more information about the band, visit the official Jamie McLean Band website. Their previous releases are available for purchase there as well. Some of them are offered on a “pay what you want” basis, giving southern rock and blues fans the perfect opportunity to explore this band’s exciting catalog.