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Published: 2001/07/30
by Dan Greenhaus

Uncle Sammy- Crossroads, Garwood, NJ 7/28

Since I hadn’t seen Uncle Sammy since GOTV, I was quite excited for the Crossroads show. The last time they played here, the owners of the bar had to turn the lights on and kick the band out because they played so long. Arriving at the bar, I immediately noted that there were many other fans there to hear the band, something I was not expecting

Uncle Sammy took the stage around 11:00 to cheers from those in attendance. The night began with a quiet jam sequence that really served as a warm-up and gave the crowd some time to move the tables and chairs in front of the stage out of the way. After a couple of minutes, the jam, which built up quite nicely, landed in the beginning of “Teddy Nuggets”. Although this was a great version that had several of the crowd dancing, including myself, I was distracted by the lights of the bar, which remained on for most of, if not the whole, first set. A solid “Teddy Nuggets” gave way soon to the opening progression of “M.A.G”. A fairly lengthy jam ensued, with an entire segment devoted to “Third Stone from the Sun”, and after about ten minutes, I heard keyboardist Beau Sasser teasing the introduction to my current favorite Sammy song, “Superman.” It is not Uncle Sammy’s most exploratory song, but I just have to love the bouncy groove that permeate. A tight jam, which didn’t stray too much from the original chord progression, followed. At this point, Uncle Sammy hadn’t stopped jamming since they took the stage so they used the song’s finale as a time to breathe before beginning “Windjammer”. A huge jam came out of the song, and it was at this point that you could really hear some Carlos Santana sounds in Max’s guitar playing. I have no idea if Max has been influenced, but at times, he really sounds like late a 60’s Carlos. The conclusion of “Windjammer” brought cheers from the crowd as Brain announced they were going to take a break.

The second set was slightly delayed as the band members took the stage without Beau. Some searching turned him up behind the bar hanging out with friends. He jumped onto the stage and into a jam, which was significantly more exploratory and explosive than the one that opened the first set, reminding me how good this band is. Another highlight was the set-closing “Recycle Now”. There are several songs that Uncle Sammy plays perfectly every time and this is one of those. Weaving through several different grooves, the jam really showcased the band’s ability to listen to each other, as one could see the interplay between the members and how it shaped the jam.

One of the better Uncle Sammy shows was enjoyed by the fans in New Jersey. The band’s energy and genuine enjoyment should be a blueprint for other bands to follow and I encourage everyone to see the band.

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