“A lot of people associate me with a certain way of doing things, and I wanted to explode their assumptions,” said musician, composer, producer and former Rollins Band bassist Melvin Gibbs. “I’ve kind of done that to a certain extent, but I wanted to present this set of people doing something that none of them normally would do. And they’re all very excited to do it.”
Gibbs is bringing together a diverse group of musicians to play the opening night performance for Artown on July 1, 7-10 p.m. This year happens to be the 40th anniversary of Pink Floyd’s iconic album, Dark Side of the Moon, and Gibbs has brought them all together to play the album in its entirety.
Changing perceptions seems to be Gibbs’ overarching theme for this performance as he compiled the group of musicians together and tweaks the music, too.
“I think it’s a good match between expanding everybody’s idea of what this set of people would be doing and expanding everybody’s idea of what this music can sound like,” Gibbs said.
The group will be presenting their own interpretation of the Pink Floyd album. Gibbs explained that the original album was meant to be an “anti-jam record,” being “very short, very concise, very to the point.” Gibbs wants to change that by “put[ting] the jamming back into the record.”
“The ironic thing is that Pink Floyd was kind of known as a jam band before that, and the whole thing of Dark Side is that it’s kind of like their pop record,” Gibbs said. “So I’ve extended out some of the song, and we’re going to be playing the instrumentals a little more. We’re just going to kind of expand out the basic idea of what they were doing.”
On lead vocals, the performance will have Nona Hendryx, solo artist and former member of Labelle—the group that topped the charts with “Lady Marmalade”—and Tre Williams of The Revelations. Sim Cain, also a former member of the Rollins Band, will be on drums. Two former members of Parliament-Funkadelic, keyboardist George Bernard “Bernie” Worrell, Jr.—who was also in Taking Heads—and guitarist DeWayne “Blackbyrd” McKnight, will also be playing. Karl Denson, saxophone player and former member of Lenny Kravitz’s band, will also be performing in this group.
“Well, it’s an all-star band. It’s a lot of really great people,” Gibbs said. “We’re going to have that kind of crossover vibe—kind of an expansion on the rock style—where we’re more kind of like rock guys, and they’re [Worrell and McKnight] kind of more like—they’re known as funk guys, but they go all over the place. We’re going to expand out the palette of what the guys did on the original record to reflect more of our personalities.”
Gibbs, never having heard of Artown before, stumbled upon it out after discovering the Nevada Museum of Art while looking up art events in the area. In the course of events after that, he decided to bring this mixed bag of heavy-hitting musicians to open the month of events.
Gibbs said he’s very excited for the performance and come to Reno. Coincidentally, he—with the rest of the Rollins Band—recorded their album, Weight with the well-known track “Liar,” in South Lake Tahoe, and Gibbs hasn’t been back to the area since.
“We used to go down to Reno on the weekends to hang out, and I haven’t been there really since then,” Gibbs said. “I’m looking forward to checking all that out, and I’m hoping I can create a situation where I can get to the museum because you guys actually have a very interesting museum as well. I’m definitely looking forward to being there in Reno.”
Artown executive director Beth MacMillan expressed her personal excitement for Gibbs and his fellow musicians’ performance on opening night and stated that she thinks it’s going to be the best opening night Artown has ever had.
She also said that she’s happy to have Jelly Bread opening for the performance to showcase the local talent here in Reno as well as the national or international talent of this group of performers.
This event is hosted by Artown and sponsored by City of Reno Arts and Culture Commission and the Reno Ace’s Ballpark.