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Published: 2005/01/15
by Brian Ferdman

Jamie McLean, Lion’s Den, NYC- 1/6

Many people have seen the Dirty Dozen Brass Band. However, not many people take notice of the Dirty Dozen Brass Band's lone guitarist who stands in the back, lays down the rhythms, and enables the horn players to reign free. But when Jamie McLean recently sat in with Anders Osborne at New York's Tribeca Rock Club, everyone took notice. McLean was suddenly out in front, wailing on his guitar and creating raucous solos for a stunned crowd. With this performance in mind, I opted to check out McLean's solo act as he began a January Thursday night residency at the Lion's Den.

Due to technical problems, the lineup was about an hour behind schedule, so I was forced to kill time while watching the generic funk performance of Ground Level Organization. Every song sounded the same, but the final number did provide some much needed originality, and the crowd responded enthusiastically.

Not long before midnight, an under-the-weather McLean and his band took the stage. Backed by bass, drums, keyboards, and a backup vocalist, his ensemble was tight and focused. Of particular note were the drums played with a seething intensity by his brother, Carter. Over the next hour, this group churned out some heavy rock bursting at the seams with soul. If McLean was really sick, you'd never know it from his animated persona onstage. After singing lines with passion, he'd frequently launch into a blistering solo that would cause his entire body to twist and shake in time with the music. His cover of Eric Clapton's "Forever Man" was both spot-on and ironic, considering that he is the spitting image of Clapton from the mid-1980s. By time he closed the show with a soul-drenched version of Paul Pena's "Gonna Move," McLean was exhausted, but he had clearly won over the crowd.

This spirited performance was a great way to kick off a busy January for McLean. With weekly residencies in both Boston and New York, a lot of people are going to have the chance to see the Dirty Dozen guitarist step out and strut his stuff. It's about time.

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