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.
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John Mayall and Band
Jamie McLean Band