I recently had the chance to sit down with Lance Smith and Dave Henry of JIVE, from Boulder. Smith and Henry (both play guitar) are in high spirits these days after having just completed a three show run at The Trilogy Wine Bar in Boulder with keyboard legend Melvin Seals.
Leroy VonSteuben: Why did you choose to play three nights at a smaller venue instead of one night at a larger venue?
Lance Smith: At Trilogy you get this really cool laid back vibe, nice and dark, wine bar out front. It feels like a club on the East Coast. It is special because you’re right there with the audience.
Dave Henry: It is just too hard to beat the intimacy of the Trilogy. The exchange of energy from the crowd and band in a smaller venue is higher octane.
LVS: What is your connection with Melvin? Why did you get him on the keys?
DH: Our manager, John Joy, had this idea that Melvin would make a great special guest for our annual Trilogy Shows in Boulder. We just wanted to bring out a high caliber player, and it doesn’t get much better than Melvin. His tone and playing are both amazing, and the energy and vibe Melvin brings to a show is contagious.
LS: My connection is like most people who enjoyed Melvin with JGB. And then getting to play on the same stage with him was incredible; Melvin was the obvious choice when we were brainstorming ideas of special guest on keys.
LVS: Did Melvin talk about his days with Jerry?
LS: A little bit... playing 18 years with Jerry, I’m sure he probably has many stories. We only got a couple; mostly how they related to experiences we have had.
LVS: How did you keep things fresh over three nights?
DH: We took the three weeks to add a bunch of new material, so we could play a variety of tunes over the course of 3 nights. And we changed up each night’s set list repeating only a few songs over the weekend.
LVS: Talk about your new songs. How are they different from the older stuff?
LS: These are the first songs that we have written in a while that we just want to play and don’t meet any sort of criteria for this or that style. They have been a chance for the band’s personality to develop the songs and it has been fun to be a part of.
DH: These songs have been an attempt to allow each person’s songwriting personality to develop. We have also matured musically over the course of the last 8 months and 150 shows, so we were anxious to try out some new ideas that we were finally able to focus on. The music is exploring different spaces that stray from the funk realm yet remain danceable and exploratory.
LVS: You guys used to be a six-piece band. How has the transition been to a five-piece?
DH: It has been a challenging experience; by taking away one player it changes the chemistry of the band. One fewer member gives us a freedom to explore new musical spaces and places that you only can get to when you are a smaller ensemble.
LS: This has also let us reexamine our roles and try to gain perspective on a new direction for us.
LVS: What is JIVE’s plan for the future? Do you have plans to play with Melvin again?
LS: These are crazy times as of late and the future in so unpredictable that all we can really do is work hard at becoming the best band we can, keep writing music that we love to play and hope that people keep enjoying it. It is so nice to do something you love. As for Melvin, we leave that up to the managers, but we would love to play with him again!
DH: JIVE’s plans for the future are basically to keep developing the music and bring it to as many people as we can. As for playing with Melvin, I certainly look forward to any future opportunities, but with him performing with his band The Melting Pot, in conjunction with our own schedule, it is hard to tell when our paths will cross again.
LVS: How much fun did you have during the three shows with Melvin?
LS: It was a blast to be able to bring back a little of the old school vibe with Melvin, and also create music that was unique to everyone who was there, because it was in the moment.
DH: It was the musical highlight of my life. I feel like I learned a lot, and that I was pushed to play my best. You certainly don’t want to look bad in front of Melvin.
LVS: Could you give me a personal highlight of the three shows? A moment that sticks out in your mind, if you please...
DH: There were a few moments during some different jams with Melvin that I just felt locked in with him. What Melvin and the band were doing just sounded so good to me that I couldn’t help but laugh out loud because I was a part of some really fun ensemble playing. It was a musical highlight for me.
LS: I really enjoyed the weekend as whole and how we teamed up with great people to make a little club in Boulder the only place people wanted to be.
LVS: What kind of feedback have you gotten from the fans?
LS: The feedback has been great, it makes us feel like we’re doing the right thing when people are smiling that much. People really enjoyed seeing Melvin that close up.
DH: People have said some very nice things about that run of shows. I think it was special to give a very different JIVE show than anyone has seen in the past, and I think people really appreciated that. We had as much fun as anyone in the room on those nights!
LVS: JIVE has some Colorado dates at the end of December and then New Year’s Eve with Leftover Salmon, are you excited?
LS: Very excited! We got to play at Salmon Fest in Colorado this past summer, which was awesome and we also played with them in Las Vegas last year. They are so much fun as people and as musicians it is an honor to share the stage with them. They are the real deal and it has been great creating a positive relationship with guys we admire.
DH: We are definitely very excited. Salmon are coming off a run of some pretty incredible shows and I expect the energy will be incredible on New Years at the Paramount. We have done a few shows with them last year, and they were gracious enough to ask us to take part in their party for New Years. I am really looking forward to it.
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