The Jesse Colin Young Band performed at the Katharine Hepburn Cultural Arts Center on Saturday, February 18, 2017. It was a two part show. The first set was all acoustic with Young solo on his guitar. The second set was Young accompanied by his band of young talented artists in their 20’s. It’s ironic that they are around the age he was when he was touring in the Youngbloods. Jesse Colin Young’s career began on the east coast in 1964 but really took off when he became one of the founding members of the Youngbloods in 1967, during the summer of love in California. Their best known hit is the iconic and still well loved song “Get Together” which was a worldwide top ten hit.
“Get Together” has become one of the anthems of a generation that proclaimed peace, love and harmony and would see us all through the turmoil of the Vietnam war era. It is such a classic that no Jesse Colin Young article or concert would feel be complete without the song. It’s been included in numerous movies throughout the years.
After the Youngbloods, Young continued with his own successful career and solo albums. He recorded in his studio in Marin, California and started his own Ridgetop Record label until a fire ravaged his home and property in 1995. He then moved his family to Hawaii and began a new life that included writing and producing music in a new studio. He and his wife also started their own coffee plantation 2000 feet up the slope of the 8000 foot Hualalai Mountain Volcano.The organic coffee is called Morning Sun and is sold and shipped worldwide.
Young opened with his well known songs “Songbird” and “Sugar Babe.” Followed by “Four in the Morning,” “Sunlight” and “Desire.” Young told the audience how he had taken a hiatus from touring for 6 years and had not planned on returning to the road until he saw his son and fellow Berklee college students performing at a recital and was blown away by their talent. He then decided to start touring again and invited Aleif Hamdan (electric guitar), Jack Sheehan (saxophone), Donnie Hogue (drums), Jenn Hwan Wong (keyboard), Sally Rose (backup vocals), Virginia Garcia-Alves (backup vocals) and Young’s son Tristan Young (bass) to join him. Their youth and enthusiasm energized his desire to tour again and it’s evident he enjoys their energy onstage.
For the second set Young was joined by the band and they started the set with “Ridgetop.” This was followed by “Sweet Good Times” and “Walk the Talk About Love.” They then sang “Cast a Stone,” which Young wrote following the Boston bombing about the emotions felt during the anxious hours in the aftermath.
The band shows their versatility by changing it up with a mix of blues and soul songs. They played a cover of the Marvin Gaye songs “What’s Goin’ On” and “Mercy, Mercy Me.” The band moved smoothly between the blues, folk and jazz mix of songs. Sally Rose and Virginia Garcia-Alves added beautiful accompaniment to Young’s voice.
They performed another of Young’s acclaimed songs “Darkness, Darkness” off the album Elephant Mountain. The song was also an anthem of the 60’s but refers more to the soldiers feelings in Vietnam. Jesse then sang a song he wrote, “For Orlando” after the tragic Orlando, Florida nightclub shooting.
The Katharine Hepburn Cultural Arts Center is gem of a venue in Old Saybrook, CT, an intimate theater holding 250 patrons. It was a sold out concert and all of the patrons were happy to spend an evening with the band judging by the applause for an encore as the performance ended. The band returned to the stage and played a rousing rendition of T-Bone Shuffle.
It was a feel good performance with a legend and his band that everyone thoroughly enjoyed.
Jesse Colin Young Band Members:
Aleif Hamdan – Electric Guitar
Jack Sheehan – Saxophone
Tristan Young – Bass
Donnie Hogue – Drums
Jenn Hwan Wong – Keyboard
Sally Rose – Backup Vocals
Virginia Garcia-Alves – Backup Vocals
Set 1 : Young Solo
Four in the Morning
Set 2 with Jesse Colin Young Band
Sweet Good Times
Walk the Talk about Love
Cast a Stone
What’s Goin’ On/Mercy, Mercy Me
Right Here, Right Now
Review by Donna Erichsen
Photos by George Bekris