The Capital Region is never in a drought when it comes to Grateful Dead related and inspired music. The show slated for March 11 at Putnam Den is no different – this time, Jamie McLean Band will team up with Melvin Seals and Jerry Garcia Band for a Saturday night show in Saratoga Springs.
McLean has been on the touring circuit for quite some time, leaving his musical footprint across the world. He’s stepped out of a sideman spot and began manning the mic himself, with help on drums by Brian Griffin and bass by Ben Mars. Throughout his career, McLean shared the stage with huge industry names such as Elvis Costello, Gregg Allman, Drive By Truckers, Derek Trucks, Susan Tedeschi, Blues Traveler, Widespread Panic and Dave Matthews. He’s even offered his help in the studio to Chuck D, Norah Jones and other notable names in the industry.
Once known for offering his layered guitar sound to jazz ensemble, Dirty Dozen Brass Band, McLean put that portion of his career in the past, stepping into the limelight for his next runaround with Jamie McLean Band. The group formed in 2006, displays an eclectic sound, complete with soulful vocals and deep rooted rock and roll, southern rock, country, bluesy licks and more. JMB commands your attention, whether it’s in the form of blues blaring through their speakers or captivating lyricism pouring out of their souls. Most recently, McLean pulled out all the stops for his latest, impending album, produced by Ken Coomer of Wilco. The album boasts features from both bluegrass artist Sam Bush and Jeff Coffin of Dave Matthews Band and was helmed in Nashville’s Sound Emporium studios.
Jamie McLean band will play Putnam Den the same night as Melvin Seals and Jerry Garcia Band– a demanding presence in the scene for over 30 years. With swift fingers on the keys, Seals has been a famed musician for quite some time and even helped pioneer what’s known to its fans as “jam band music.” Let’s see what the two groups have in store for a Putnam Den crowd–one that loves Jerry Garcia, the Grateful Dead and all walks of soulful tunes and jam band music.
Catch ‘em at the Den on Saturday, March 11–doors open at 8 and the show kicks off at 9! Ages 18 and over are allowed admittance while a $5 surcharge is in place for those under 21. Tickets are $20 in advance and $25 the day of show.
Q&A with Jamie McLean
Alyssa Ladzinski: What were the toughest and easiest parts about making the transition from Dirty Dozen Brass Band guitarist to manning the mic in your very own group?
John McLean: It’s never easy to walk away from something established and solid. I was lucky enough to travel the world and play with many of my musical heros. I loved playing with DDBB but I also knew deep down that I had songs of my own to sing. Those guys are family to me and we catch up on stage a few times a year. At the end of the day it wasn’t really a hard decision. I feel like when you know, you know.
AL: Do you ever find that you wish you could take a step away from the spotlight and revert back to your old Dirty Dozen ways?
JM: I still get to do that every now and then with other artists. I’ve worked with Aaron Neville, Taylor Hicks and Brett Dennen as a sideman. It’s nice to take off some of the stress that comes with being a leader and just play but at the end of the day nothing gets me going like singing my own stuff with my band.
AL: Your latest studio album is being worked on by Ken Coomer of Wilco. How’d this partnership come to be?
JM: I was initially talking with Oliver Wood of The Wood Brothers about producing the album. He was busy around the time we wanted to record and he recommended Ken Coomer to me. I always loved Ken’s playing with Wilco and the minute we got together to talk about recording the album I knew it was the right fit. He’s such a solid guy and everything with him is effortless. He always has the right ideas and the perfect words to encourage you to fire it up and get the best recordings possible.
AL: What is one thing you’ve taken away from his expertise?
JM: Trust yourself. Try new things. Don’t be afraid to push the barriers a bit because you can always bring it back to zero and stick with the original idea.
AL: Tell us a little bit about the album. How can this be compared and contrasted to your other JMB albums?
JM: I’d like to think that these are the best songs I’ve ever written. They are honest and meaningful and I think they resonate with the audience. We recorded in Nashville because I wanted to get to the heart of these songs and there is nowhere for songwriting and songwriters like Nashville. I spent a lot of time there last year just writing and soaking up the creative spirit. It was just a blast to make. Heading to the studio every morning was exciting because I felt like we were riding the right wave and everything was coming up roses. Having local musicians and people like Sam Bush or Jeff Coffin on the album was icing on the cake.
AL: Your new album also sees help from Sam Bush as well as Jeff Coffin from Dave Matthews Band–what insight, creative ideas or advice did you take away from them to craft this album that you might not have implemented before?
JM: I was so honored to have those guys record on my music. I think there was a bit of mutual admiration because not a lot was said regarding the playing of the songs. They are total pros and all I really did was play the songs for them once or twice and off we went. We recorded the song “Virginia” entirely live in the studio with the full band and Sam Bush. I think we ended up using the first or second take but we had such a blast doing it we recorded 5 or 6 takes just for fun. There have a been a few times in my life where I’ve felt like I was floating on stage and that was one of them.
AL: Which artists influence your music most? As a whole and as of late.
JM: Anything that is soulful resonates with me. Put on an old Stax or Motown or Muscle Shoals recording and I’m a happy man. That being said there’s a lot of modern stuff I really like too. Everything from Bon Iver to Chris Stapleton to Anderson Paak. I’m in as long as there’s a strong melody, lyrical ideas and soul.
AL: Who was your favorite artist to share the stage with and why?
JM: Playing with Elvis Costello at Madison Square Garden will always be a highlight. Derek Trucks is one of the nicest guys in the biz. Hearing Dr. John tell stories late into the night is unbelievable. Playing guitar on Meters songs with Zigaboo. It’s all been one hell of a ride.
AL: If you could only cover one song for the rest of your career, what would it be?
JM: “Bring It On Home To Me” by Sam Cooke.
AL: What’s your favorite Jerry Garcia Band song/Grateful Dead song?
JM: “Brown Eyed Woman” is up there. “Deal” and “Dire Wolf” too. I dig the bluesy country side of the Dead and I’m always a sucker for any of the Garcia ballads like “Morning Dew,” “Ramble On Rose” or “Wharf Rat.”
AL: Did you ever identify with being a deadhead?
JM: I can get with the ‘On the Bus’ mentality. When I was a teenager I was really drawn to the 60’s beat writers. Kerouac and Kesey and those guys along with the music and culture resonates with me. I’m a ‘do unto others’ kind of guy and the Deadhead scene has always had that side to it which I dig.
AL: What group or artist do you hope to share the stage with in the near future?
JM: I’m looking forward to playing with Aaron Neville at Jazz Fest this year and I’ve got my eye on Stevie Wonder.
AL: How do you plan to continue to stretch yourself musically, what else is on the horizon?
JM: I try to stretch myself every time I’m on stage or sitting down to write a song. I’m excited to get a new album ready as well as playing with as many badasses as possible.