Billy Cadieux - guitar, vocals; David Tolmie - bass, lead vocals; Gary Kollarus - drums; Guest: Jeff Gutcheon - keyboards
With only one highly collectible 1970 album to their credit, Great Jones, as the liner notes to their LP declared, was an odd combination. This hard driving rock and blues trio featured Billy Cadieux, a fiery jazz-loving guitar player, ex-folky bassist and gutsy lead vocalist, David Tolmie and blues-breaking drummer, Gary Kollarus. This Brooklyn based band became part of the scene revolving around legendary R&B producer, Jerry Ragavoy's Hit Factory Studios in New York City, which is where they met up with keyboardist and songwriter, Jeff Gutcheon. Then an apprentice at the Hit Factory, Gutcheon had worked extensively with Geoff and Maria Muldaur and not only contributed piano and organ tracks to Great Jones' album sessions, but also penned the title song, "All Bowed Down."
In September of 1970, Great Jones was invited to open two evenings at Bill Graham's Fillmore East, kicking off a bill that also featured Delaney & Bonnie & Friends and headliners, the Byrds. These were very high profile gigs, where the band would be playing before one of the most discriminating audiences in the rock world. Despite the intimidating circumstances, Great Jones rose to the challenge, delivering impressive performances both nights of the run. They would perform as a trio on the second night, but on this first night of the run, September 11, 1970, Jeff Gutcheon joined the group onstage, making it a particularly interesting performance that featured the same lineup that recorded the album tracks.
Not surprisingly, Great Jones' set kicks off with material from the album, beginning with an undulating bone-crunching take on "Leaving Trunk." This serves as a great example of the prototypical Great Jones sound, a combination of hard rock infused with the blues and a touch of psychadelia. Billy Cadieux goes for a blazing overdriven guitar sound that rarely lets up. This is a good thing as Cadieux has the chops, creativity, and an abundance of catchy riffs in his arsenal. Both Tolmie and Kollarus propel the band with Tolmie's gritty and forceful vocals full of fire. Gutcheon joins in toward the end of this opener and will remain for the rest of the set. They continue with two more tracks from the album, including the tasty slow blues of "I Ain't Got Long" and a thoroughly original arrangement of Richard and Mimi Farina's "One Way Ticket," a song they mistakenly titled "Leaving California" on the album.
The next two numbers were not included on Great Jones' one and only album, making them a welcome presence here. First up is an engaging romp through Otis Redding's classic, "Hard To Handle," followed by a fiery reading of a 1920's-era Bessie Smith tune, "You've Been a Good Old Wagon." One last fragment of the final song of the set follows. It is but a mere 30 seconds, but captures the jazzy side of Cadieux during a blazing outro sequence which would conclude Great Jones' debut performance on the Fillmore East stage.