Joe Marcinek & Melvin Seals Band and Tommy Shugart Trio: Brilliant!

Video courtesy of James Kennedy – Swamp Hippie Gulf Coast
Good photos courtesy of Alan Feldman

I made two predictions about last night’s show (Thursday, February 6) at Dunedin Brewery with Joe Marcinek and Melvin Seals and band and the Tommy Shugart Trio. I posted the first one a couple hours before the show:

And the second one was:

Let’s just say I nailed both of them.

I posted the second one after Tommy Shugart and his group had just delivered a magnificent Hammond B3 trio set featuring Mike Ryan on guitar and Taylor Galbraith on drums. It was almost otherworldly. This was wonderful funky soul-driven jazz harkening back to the ’60s and ’70s. They covered some great artists throughout their all-too-short set.

If you’re surprised that they played two Kool and the Gang songs, you might not know that the early Kool band (1969-74) was primarily jazz-funk. They began with “Kool is Back” and “The Dump” (you know this one as adopted by Lettuce). Then Shugart, a multi-instrumentalist previously with The Groove Orient, really flexed his B3 muscles. That is where he truly excels, as evidenced by numerous sets on Jam Cruise back in January.

Tommy Shugart – scott hopkins

“Root Down” was pure Jimmy Smith, followed by a Jackie Mitoo tune called “Hot Tamale” that just oozed that Meters groove. Taylor Galbraith was superb at the drum kit, directing the groove along with Shugart. And the real revelation was guitarist Mike Ryan of Orlando. His hollow-body tone was magnificent in this context, and his extensive knowledge of the history of organ trios was instantly evident. By turns, he touched on Grant Green, Kenny Burrell, George Benson, and others.

Taylor Galbraith & Mike Ryan – scott hopkins

Next up was a song by The Mighty Burner, Charles Earland, and burn it they did: “Letha,” followed by another Kool and the Gang tune, “Jujii.” Then they went back to Stanley Turrentine’s Cherry album for “Sister Sanctified” before closing with a romp through “Cold Sweat,” deep, deep in the grooves. Shugart was playing bass with his left hand throughout the set.

Taylor Galbraith – scott hopkins

[TS3: Kool is Back (Kool & the Gang), The Dump (Soul Vibrations), Root Down (Jimmy Smith), Hot Tamale (Jackie Mitoo), Letha (Charles Earland), Dujii (Kool & the Gang), Sister Sanctified (Stanley Turrentine), Cold Sweat (James Brown)]

So prediction two was correct: Marcinek and Seals had their work cut out for them.

Seals and Marcinek have worked together often, most notably on their show from last June that was turned into a video and an audio recording: Dead Funk Summit featuring George Porter Jr. Seals, forever the helmsman of JGB, knows the Garcia/Dead canon as well as anyone, and Marcinek is also steeped in the tradition. The rhythm section included Taylor Galbraith on drums and her sister, Ashley, on bass.

The first set opened with a Melvin Seals composition, “Movin’ and Groovin’,” and it was clear immediately that the Galbraiths were truly elevating the conversation. Ashley played a crushing bass line that told us that the rest of the evening would be pure magic, and Taylor’s time (all evening) was impeccable. [First prediction: also correct!]

The first from the Grateful Dead songbook was “Goin’ Down the Road Feelin’ Bad,”a traditional song the Dead took to their bosom. Then we heard a bust-out, the first live performance of Marcinek’s “Melvin.” They plan to record it Saturday during their two-day run at The New Standard in Winter Park. Set one closed with a long, jammed-out “Scarlet Begonias > Fire on the Mountain.”

Posted by Swamp Hippie Gulf Coast on Thursday, February 6, 2020

Marcinek chose a tune from his third solo album, JMIII, to begin set two: “Funnily.” Chris Sgammato sat in on alto sax, and Ashley and Taylor shoved the set into overdrive. Then the temperature shot way up with three long jams. First was the Little Milton tune “That’s What Love Will Make You Do” (a staple for JGB). Rochelle Siddiq guested on vocals, her beautiful voice a lovely addition to the proceedings. Then a rollicking “Shakedown Street” had everyone dancing and singing and “woo”-ing, Seals’ hands dancing over the organ keys. The Galbraiths blew this sky-high.

Melvin Seals & Joe Marcinek – Alan Feldman

Sgammato returned for a tune from Marcinek’s second album, Slink, a very funky “Holtsford.” As the jam took root, Seals and Marcinek directed it into “Sugaree,” with Siddiq invited back up to sing. Sgammato was still on stage (he and Marcinek played often together on Jam Cruise, especially when Marcinek hosted the Jam Room Friday night). “Sugaree” is a slow-moving tune, but Ashley and Taylor felt it needed to rock, and rock it they did. Ashley’s bass line was stunning.

With less than ten minutes left, Marcinek thanked everyone before introducing the night’s final song, “George Washington,” his signature tune and the incredible first track on Slink. The quartet plus Sgammato shot this one right through the roof.

Posted by Swamp Hippie Gulf Coast on Thursday, February 6, 2020

[JMB: 1: Movin’ and Groovin’ (Melvin Seals), Goin’ Down the Road Feelin’ Bad (traditional), Melvin (Marcinek), Scarlet Begonias > Fire on the Mountain (Grateful Dead); 2: Funnily (Marcinek), That’s What Love Will Make You Do (Little Milton), Shakedown Street (Grateful Dead), Holsford (Marcinek) > jam > Sugaree (Grateful Dead), George Washington (Marcinek)]

Two last items to mention. One, this was the first time Marcinek had played with the Galbraiths. Two, Marcinek was sick with the flu.

Nobody who was there will believe either one.

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