Melvin Seals and JGB’s jam-packed Lake Tahoe show

Tahoe Onstage

Melvin Seals and JGB jam the Crystal Bay Casino’s Crown Room Stage on July 15.
Tahoe Onstage photos by Larry Sabo

Melvin Seals and The Jerry Garcia Band are no strangers to Northern Nevada jam band fanatics.

Mr. Seals and JGB have been honoring the greatness of the late Grateful Dead guitarist in these parts for years. Fresh off a Vaudeville Tent performance at High Sierra Music Festival just a couple weeks ago, Tahoe fans got a chance to dance and groove all over again last Saturday night in Crystal Bay’s Crown Room.

Seals got in the groove right off the hop with a “Finders Keepers” romp with plenty of funk and wah-wah coming from his fingertips. The crowd of deadheads began to filter in as if lured by the sounds of a pied piper named Garcia as Bo Diddley’s “Road Runner” filled the room, which featured the additions of Shirley Clark and Cheryl Rucker on backing vocals. By the time a 21-minute mashup of Scarlet Begonias and Smoky Robinson’s “The Way You Do The Things You Do” commenced, they had arrived on a newly legalized cloud and were in full 360-degree gyration.

Zach Nugent, who is just about to complete his first circle around the sun with JGB on guitar and vocals, took the reins with ringing solo work on both tunes. The distinct tonal signatures made famous by Jerry bobbed on top of the ocean swell of Seals organ work in an oft-visited combination throughout the evening.

A reflective “Twilight” settled things back down and featured buttery licks from Seals, before the funk returned on “People Say.” A decidedly Dead intro disguised what would be Mr. Seals channeling his inner Bob Dylan on a reggae soul infused “Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door.”  The crowd delighted in the swaying rhythm’s and echoed the chorus before Nugent mixed in a lengthy solo backed by bassist John-Paul McClean and Pete Lavezzoli on the skins. Seals wrapped the 12.5-minute version with a keys solo of his own, building to a crescendo and concluding with a last singalong verse.

The set sustained nice momentum as the ladies left the stage so the boys could get down a bit. With the 40-year anniversary of Elvis Presley’s death a month away, the ensemble payed fitting tribute with the up-temp blues pickin’ romp “That’s Alright Mama.”  “Mission In The Rain” followed, featuring solid vocals from Nugent coupled with the return of Clark and Rucker and their beautiful harmonies, before a 10-minute summer shower of solo guitar drenched the senses of the hooting and whistling fans.

A rollicking “Midnight Moonlight” concluded the set with Seals adding the instrumental punch. After a bit of coaxing, they broke out a song that Garcia recorded but never actually played live with Dorsey Burnette’s uplifting gospel tune “Magnificent Sanctuary Band.” The adored Mr. Seals then made his way to the merchandise table and was greeted by a multitude of fans thanking him for his performances. A true pro who understands what the relationship is about, he stuck around to sign anything people bought or brought until everyone had their turn to thank him until next time.

  • Melvin Seals and JGB
    Crystal Bay Casino
    July 15, 2017
  • Finders Keepers
    Road Runner
    Scarlet Begonias > The Way You Do The Things You Do
    People Say
    Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door
    That’s Alright Mama
    Mission In The Rain
    Sisters and Brothers
    Midnight Moonlight
    Magnificent Sanctuary Band

    Click the link to see all of Larry Sabo’s photos from the show.

About Michael Smyth

Michael Smyth moved to Reno in 2007 after living more than 40 years in the Bay Area. In addition to going to live shows, he enjoys golf, skiing and fly-fishing. Check out his website

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