Story and Photographs by Steven Philips StSteven.com
If you caught a show on Melvin Seals and JGB’s March East coast tour, you were treated to some of the best feel good music out there. If not, I’m sure you’ll have more opportunities throughout the year, cause these guys seem to visit the tri state area, and Philly in particular, on a regular basis. They’ve played multiple shows at the Blockley and the Ardmore Music Hall (formerly Brownies 23 East) as well as playing many area festivals.
Last Thursday night’s Ardmore show was full of great energy, great vibes, and great music. Melvyn’s big smile graced the stage well before start time, where he held court, graciously greeting fans and friends with big smiles and big hugs. Most of the crowd were not just deadheads, but JGB and specifically Melvin Seals fans. They were looking forward to music that they know and love, and the setlist, the playing, and the overall scene were well up to expectations.
I went to many Jerry Garcia Band shows in the early seventies and loved hearing familiar covers from that era, along with a handful original Grateful Dead songs. On Thursday Melvin and crew opened with Jimmy Cliff’s The Harder They Come, and it took me right back. They kept the awesome covers coming with Beatles, Bob Marley, Bob Dylan, Chuck Berry x2, Elvis Presley’s Mystery Train, Peter Rowan, Johnny Russell, and several more. They closed with a splendid rendition of Sisters and Brothers, a Charles Johnson song and a JGB staple that everyone loves, and encored with Everybody Needs Somebody, a song written by Bert Berns, Solomon Burke and Jerry Wexler, which was popularized by Wilson Pickett, and covered by The Rolling Stones, The Blues Brothers, and Melvin Seals and JGB. There was a lot of love in the room all night long!