Melvin Seals & JGB • Salvage Station • March 20, 2018

Everybody Needs Somebody to Love. Asheville loves Melvin Seals & JGB.

I’m not a music review writer. I make photos. I’ve been trying to figure out how to keep this blog without a writer. It seems silly to just have images up here without saying something about my experience of a show… so here it goes. The photo gods sometimes allow an experience shooting anything to be filled with nothing but sunshine and joy – the lights are perfect, there are no obstructions, the position of each band member is ideal — wait, that’s actually never the case. Photography is all about problem-solving: find a way to get the shot –and make it a good one. After all, a photographer is only as good as her worst shot.

Last night, I found a beautiful moment with saxophone player, Ron Holloway and Melvin Seals. It isn’t always easy to get that badass shot of a keyboard player, especially when the saxophone is sitting between my lens and the organ. As Ron stood up and to take an amazing solo, I found my moment. Melvin sat up and looked towards me and the image magically made itself. (Thank you, photo gods).

The big fun of the night for me was the sweet, familiar sound of the music that I’ve loved for many years AND the challenge of making it work without ideal conditions. This takes us to challenge number two.  Sunshine Becker and Lady Chi have stepped up to the plate as new backup singers for the band. They sound amazing — getting images of them simultaneously without making one them look as if she were eating a microphone was nearly impossible. Thank heavens for a new renovation at the Salvage Station for the sound guys – a new window in the side-stage wall gave me a perfect vantage point. The light was not ideal, but once again, the moment presented itself — and I am grateful.

Overall, the night was beautiful. Friends gathered, hugged, and danced. I came home with images that document a music scene that is alive and well — one that I am honored to be a part of.

– Photography By Libby Gamble Photography

Melvin Seals & JGB • Salvage Station • October 28, 2017

Ahhhh… Melvin Seals & JGB rolled into the Salvage Station Friday and excitement filled the cold, rainy night. It was hard to make it from one end of the room without giving and receiving big, meaningful hugs from friends and strangers alike.  For me, the most special thing about seeing JGB is that love fills the space and the dancings bodies that surround me are all wearing smiles. The iconic sounds from Seals’ Hammond B3 organ fill the air and I am transported to another time, another place. There is an emotional connection to experiencing the band live and all I can really put into words is that it makes me happy.

Melvin Seals – Hammond B3 organ, Keyboard & Vocals; Zach Nugent – Electric Guitar & Lead Vocals;  John-Paul McLean – Bass; Pete Lavezzoli – Drums; Shirley Starks and Cheryl Rucker – Backup Vocals

– Photography By Libby Gamble Photography

The Mike Dillon Band • Salvage Station • May 18, 2017

I arrived at the venue early and had the pleasure of hanging out with local AVL drummer Claude Coleman Jr. of Ween and The Mike Dillon Band, weirdos, doppelgängers, and a friend who was down and out. I said to my friend, “Maybe you’ll find a hundred dollars on the ground!” Just a few songs into the set, Mike bursts into his own song “Maybe you’ll find 100 dollars on the ground!” (which I had previously not heard… I swear!) Synchronicity was in the air, and similar life stories and duplicated local plot lines in conversation with the doppelgängers, made it obvious this concert was an AVL “Westworld” hub! Whaaaat? What do these cats sound like? This band is like an acid trip with punk rockers at an amusement park. Picture cartoon circus elephants blowing their trunks in unison, side-to-side, with looney musical jazz accompaniment. Picture crazy clowns escaping the asylum to mass percussion. Part jazz concert with vibraphone, part raging and “Primus / Fantomas-like”, with spoken-word stories that reminisce of The Dead Milkmen and even Frank Zappa. Annnnd I can’t help but think of Iggy Pop during the new cut “Iggy Iggy!” off their newest album release (it’s off the charts!) So many great influences, and such an original sound. Headliner Karl Denson made a guest appearance mid-set on some swinging jazz, belting it out on the sax. Claude Coleman Jr. obliterates on the drums, he is a machine, we love you Claude! Just when the music gets too heavy to handle, it calms at just the right moment, and morphs into hilarious ecstasy. “Is today National Viking Day?” Mike asked the crowd… A super fun story about how Mike went to a Grateful Dead concert and tripped out too hard was the icing on the cake of this perfect set of live music and psychedelic comedy. I love this band, this was super fun, do not miss them when they come to your town. Thank you!

– Joshua Marc Levy, Asheville Art Family

Photography by Libby Gamble Photography

Karl Denson’s Tiny Universe feat. Melvin Seals • Salvage Station • May 18, 2017

Multi-instrumentalist Karl Denson brought his authentic blend of funk and jazz to AVL’s Salvage Station this past Thursday night, along with Melvin Seals of The Jerry Garcia Band fame as 2nd keyboard player. Denson has played with Lenny Kravitz and helped form The Greyboy All-Stars. He has also extensively toured with The Rolling Stones, whom they covered tonight with a tasty rendition of “Tumbling Dice.” Tonight Karl Denson’s Tiny Universe consisted of Alan Evans (drums), Chris Stillwell (bass), David Veith (keys), Chris Littlefield (trumpet), and Seth Freeman (guitar). The Universe expanded beautifully with the addition of opener Mike Dillon adding a new vibration of percussion to the already solid rhythmic landscape, and Melvin Seals spinning his own brand of funky B-3 magic. Although Karl previously announced that he doesn’t play much Dead in his live set, the band went into a smooth version of The Grateful Dead’s “West L.A. Fadeaway” which had everyone in the crowd grinning ear-to-ear.  The Station was packed with friendly dancing heads who were twirling and flowing to the spirit of the music  — and the spirit was alive and well.

– Joshua Marc Levy, Asheville Art Family with Libby Gamble

Photography By Libby Gamble Photography

Aaron Austin Trio • Salvage Station • May 9, 2017

Left the house for a few hours, discovered a timeless showing of electric psychedelic jazz-rock exploration. Led by the guitarist from the well-known local band, The Broadcast, Aaron Austin absolutely shines on the electric guitar. Gifted with the knowledge of jazz history, he is also immersed in the true spirit of rock and roll. Ted Marks was dropping bombs left and right, all over the Station, into the parking lot, and beyond into space…Man can play the bass. Drummer Phil Bronson, a bad motherf$%^#r on the drums, filled the room with the right amount of chaos and beautifully broken beats. They killed it on covers of the following bands, all played with a fresh take and on the edge: Original Meters, Bill Frisell, John Scofield, J.J.Cale’s “After Midnight” and a great take on “Everybody Wants To Rule The World” by Tears For Fears. This two set show was awesome! You do not want to miss these cats next time. Thanks to Salvage Station. Grabbed a tasty burger, tots and a local Pisgah Pale Ale and all were amazing. Thank you!

-Joshua Marc Levy, Asheville Art Family

SET 1:: Groan Man, Hottentot, Song For Bilbao, Egg Radio, Tides • Set 2: Everybody Wants to Rule The World, Boozer, Red Baron, Jan Jan, Roll Out, After Midnight, Funky Miracle, Green Tea, Get Back

Photography By Libby Gamble Photography

Everyone Orchestra • The Salvage Station • March 9, 2017

The Everyone Orchestra is a one-of-a-kind, unique show experience. The Orchestra has featured over 940 artists since it’s inception in 1994, selected from some of the greatest bands of all-time. Thursday’s Sold Out performance at The Salvage Station, Asheville North Carolina’s newest riverfront music venue, featured Oteil Burbridge (Aquarium Rescue Unit, The Allman Brothers, Dead & Co.), Claude Coleman Jr. (Ween), Holly Bowling, Ian Neville (Dumstaphunk), Natalie Cressman (Trey Anastasio Band), and Wallace Mullinax (Dead 27’s). The Orchestra is conducted by the highly animated Mike Quinn, dressed in a beautifully designed white coat featuring colorful psychedelic embroidered imagery. The band improvises the show including the lyrics. One song preached “Take the high road, it’s all about love,” while the next jam “Freedom Of The Press, freedom of information! A choice to make our own decisions” rang true in today’s political climate. This show had a high mix of New Orleans style funk, interlaced with underwater Phish-like jams, electric blues, and easily digestible beautiful vocals. There was a very positive vibe tonight which merged the band and audience as one. Mike uses a digital tablet to write messages to both the band and the audience while the show progresses. When instructed to sing the audience was in full participation. The Salvage Station features it’s own restaurant, multiple bars both inside and outdoors with local brews, and fire pits. After 20 years of seeing live jam band music in hundreds of venues, I have to say this show was a great experience all around. I can’t speak highly enough about the band and the venue, check them both out.

– Joshua Marc Levy, Asheville Art Family

Photos by Libby Gamble Photography