Let's get one thing straight. JGB, formerly the Jerry Garcia Band, is not a band of leeches feeding off the late Grateful Dead musician.
"We are the remaining members of the band that he formed," said keyboardist/vocalist Melvin Seals. "In fact, we were thinking of renaming the band something else. But then we'd have more explaining to do."Seals, his bass-playing cousin, Elgin, saxist/guitarist Armin Winter, guitarists Peter Harris and Judah Gold, drummer Steve Stephens and vocalists Jacklyn LaBranch and Gloria Jones will kick off JBG's nationwide tour at the Zephyr Club, 301 S. West Temple, Wednesday, May 6. The doors open at 7 p.m.
Seals, who met Garcia and joined the band in 1980, said the only people who were against the idea of reviving JGB were some of the members of the Grateful Dead camp.
"That's definitely a challenge for us," Seals said. "But we're not about making money off of Jerry. We just want to keep the spirit and music alive.
"There must be many Grateful Dead tribute bands out there. But we're not one of them. Our mission is to make the music that made us feel good. And hopefully, we will touch those fans who had seen us with Jerry in the past find that same feeling."
Seals, whose main influence was a gospel organ, has played all types of music - jazz, rock, fusion, country, Broadway shows and even bits of opera. Some of the artists he has played with or recorded with include Charlie Daniels, Elvin Bishop and Chuck Berry.
"When I met Jerry, it turned my music around," Seals said. "I still don't know what we call it. It has everything."
For 18 years, Seals played in the band. When Garcia died in 1995, Seals looked around and decided to get the band back together.
"It wasn't like I could go back to what I was doing before the band," Seals said. "This was pretty much all I knew. So I reformed the band and decided to do it."
This tour marks the first time the band will embark on a tour since Garcia's death. And, as was the case after the band first formed in 1975, there have been some changes in the lineup. The most notable, however, was the addition of Elgin Seals. He took over the late John Kahn's spot.
Also on board are LaBranch and Jones, who sang with the band during the 1980s.
"We're just playing the music for the music's sake," Melvin Seals said. "And when I look out into the audience and see just one person smiling or having a good time, then we've done our jobs."