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Blues Sunday with John Mayall & the Jamie McLean Band

Review of John Mayall/Jamie McLean Band at Sellersville Theater February 19, 2012

from Louise Uznanski, Richard Uznanski, Holley Dey

Last Sunday afternoon British blues legend John Mayall stood quietly in the lobby of Sellersville Theater, Pennsylvania.  Thirty minutes before showtime he presided over a small table stacked with copies of Live in London, the John Mayall band 2011 concert DVD.  A steady line of fans approached the table to shake the musician’s hand and purchase the autographed product.  Unlike many signing lines, most of the queued fans were men, and they took the opportunity to share the memory of a song or special show from years past.

There have been countless shows and made memories over a career that spans more than forty years.  John Mayall and the Bluesbreakers released their first single in the mid 1960’s and in one form or another have continued to record and perform music ever since. At age 78 Mr. Mayall continues to play on average 125 shows each year.  During the month of February 2012 his schedule includes performances on ten consecutive days in venues that span the east coast from Vermont to Virginia.  At Sellersville he played back-to-back afternoon and evening shows to a soldout Theater.

His setlist was drawn primarily from the recently released DVD, and included Mayall penned favorites “Chicago Line”, “Movin’ Out and Movin’ On”, and “California”, as well as the Lionel Hampton/Dan Burley tune “Ridin’ on the L & N”.   Impromptu cheers erupted from the audience as the songs were announced; there were fans lining the side aisles for a closer look and listen.  Several stood to applaud both during and after each song.

The bandleader contributed on vocals, keys and harmonica.  While the tone may have grown gruffer,  the syncopated phrasing of Mr. Mayall’s vocals was unchanged when compared to his thirty year old self, and the blues sang true.  His comfortable keyboard and harmonica play was backed by Greg Rzab on bass, Jay Davenport on drums and Rocky Athas on guitar.  Athas’ electric guitar in particular elicited a strong positive response from the crowd, and prompted recall of other Bluesbreakers guitarists who have played with John Mayall, including Eric Clapton and Mick Taylor (Rolling Stones), and bassist Jack Bruce (Cream).

Opening both shows at Sellersville was the Jamie McLean Band.  McLean’s thirty minute set included only four songs, but each song was played to its full potential, featuring Jamie’s outstanding solo guitar work supported on bass by Ben Mars and on drums by Brian Griffin.  The short set pulled from the Band’s 2011 original blues album Sunday Morning, supplemented by the soon-to-be-released tune “Sing It”.  At intermission and again following the show, McLean faced a long signing line and the repeated question, “When will you be back?”

The  following photographs offer a small taste of an exceptional blues filled Sunday at historic Sellersville Theater.  For more on John Mayall including tour schedule, click here.  For more on the Jamie McLean Band including current tour dates, go here.  For more on Sellersville Theater, visit the website here.

© OnTapBlog 2012 All rights reserved.

John Mayall and Band

Jamie McLean Band

6 Comments Post a comment
  1. Louise #

    I don’t get to see many legends or legends to be but on this night I got to see one of the greatest ones in John Mayall.
    Looking forward to seeing Jamie McLean Band again solo and with Taylor Hicks in the next few months! Touring, IMO, is how legends are made.

    February 24, 2012
    • ontapblog #

      It was a wonderful afternoon, wasn’t it Louise? Great music and gracious hosts at Sellersville Theater. The Linzer torte wasn’t bad, either!

      February 24, 2012
  2. Linda T #

    Once again, another stellar music review and series of photos of a blues legend. John Mayall is one of a kind. My favorite song of Mayall’s is his lament for the death of a fellow blues musician, JB Lenoir. “The Death of JB Lenoir” always gives me goosebumps. Here is the youtube version of it http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FYh_pTB8oNk.

    Just saw Jamie play solo last night — love the Jamie McLean Band, but the intimacy of a solo voice and guitar brought some sweetness and subtletly to the mix as well. The guitar solo on “Crazy About You” alone was worth the price of admission — slow and bluesy like pulled taffy. Nice!

    Thanks again for all the work you do on the blog — I love it!

    February 24, 2012
    • ontapblog #

      Linda, thanks so much for taking the time to read and comment. It’s truly appreciated.

      Thank you also for the video link. It’s hard to imagine so much talent in a single individual – singer, songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, and comedian. Yes, comedian. Mr. Mayall had the drummer doubled over in laughter on Sunday afternoon. What a treat to see the band perform!

      Jamie’s guitar play was electric (no pun intended!) at Sellersville; the solo show you attended must have been wonderful. Glad you were able to be there!

      February 24, 2012
  3. Rich #

    Truly a “Legendary” Sunday!! Harp blues, guitar blues/rock, and musical talent across the stage from beginning to end. Being introduced to John Mayall and the Bluesbreakers way back when the LP was the media of the time; listening to “All My Love”, “Steppin’ Out”, and “Room to Move” — these cuts are truly classics for me. When I heard the guitar rip the intro to “All My Love” at Sellersville I simply grinned from ear to ear and had to rest my camera to take it all in. Superb!

    I cannot forget to mention the Jamie McLean Band – they truly primed the audience for what would follow. It matter’s not, young or old, good music is good music! A day to remember.

    February 24, 2012
    • ontapblog #

      It was a wonderful show, and I’m glad you picked that camera up again, because some of those shots are stunning. Thanks, Rich!

      I have to agree that age has little bearing on the quality of the music, but it does affect stamina. I’m truly impressed that Mr. Mayall continues to crisscross the country making music and new fans; I’m one of them!

      February 24, 2012

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