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John Browns Body, The Jewish Mother, Virginia Beach, VA 8/20

John Brown’s Body almost sold out The Jewish Mother (around 350 max) this visit. Only four months ago (April 27, 2005), they sold about 100 less tickets at the same venue. And, it’s not hard to figure out how they were able to draw the larger crowd for their reappearance – it’s simple word of mouth spread by people who caught them the first time, and some heavy promotion by Humble Ark, the local Reggae booking agency.

Both sets had a mix of JBB standards reaching back to 96’s All Time, and newer favorites from their latest studio release, Pressure Points. “Satisfaction Feeling” set the early tone. The vocal harmonies of Kevin Kinsella and tambourine man Elliot Martin were gorgeous and the horn trio’s (tenor sax Dan Delacruz, trumpet/B3 – Chris Welter, trombone/Nyabinghi drum – Alex Beram) harmonies so sexy. “Resonate” exhibited Nate Silas Richardson’s prowess on the keys. “Not the End” leant itself to a dance-off and held the treasure of a raw dub break. In a band like JBB, the soundman (Jason Randall) is the 9th member, taking control of the situation and pumping desired and delightfully obtrusive effects. Bassist Scott Palmer is masterful, no matter how complicated the bass line; certainly he’s comforted, being able to lean on drummer Tommy Benedetti’s steadfast timing. “Dread” ended set one with all the passion that ran throughout. Quit an uplifting session.

It can’t be underestimated how important a DJ is to keep the feet happy before the show and during set breaksThe Jewish Mother is lucky enough to have Jahboo, Humble Ark’s founder, to provide this service. You know, you can get cramps if you stop moving after heavy dancing, just like any athlete, so the beat must go on! Note: Jahboo also garnered a memorable guest spot, playing Nyabinghi late in the second set, during “Singers and Players” an honor, for sure.

It was of the same during set two: the horns sang, the bass roared, the drums ripped cavernous, guitar licks were tasteful, the ivory was a complete head massage, vocals harmonized with the ease of a band that’s tested and the dubbingalways heavy. I love these no-complaints nights! Nodding to most of the natural forces, “Blazing Love,” “Coolwater” and “Rockstone” ran back, to back, to back. Kinsella’s vocals were exceptional during “Rockstone” and the lively “All Time” was ridden with an intense dub session. “What we Gonna Do?” ended set two, followed by another Pressure Points track, “Full Control,” which seemed the “official” encore, although JBB hadn’t left the stage. When JBB left the stage and announced that we should sign up on their guest list, who knew they were planning on filing back literally through-the-fans to take the stage again?

Ah, the magic of a small venue: I see a lot of shows, hear a lot of fans screaming out requests and see 99% of those requests ignored. Just to explain how close the crowd is to the band at The Jewish Mother, I could have yanked the chord from Kinsella’s guitar if I wanted toa girl from the audience got onstage, twice, to dance. That said, a request was filled tonight and although about of the crowd had left the building, they topped their encore with 2002’s funky “Garden Tree.”

They’ve been called America’s best Reggae bandas it stands, I don’t currently know of a more solid-sounding one that can claim the old US of A as a birthright.

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