In the realm of jam bands, Cast of Clowns is a supergroup of key players from other groups, tonight celebrating both founder Craig Wright’s 50th birthday and the release of the band’s CD, “Have a Heart.” Most of the musicians have appeared at Ashkenaz in other bands, and the Clowns played one of their first shows after forming in 2008 at Ashkenaz, but this is their first time back since then. Brought together by Ashland, Oregon, singer-guitarist Wright, the Clowns are co-founder Greg Anton on drums (of the band Zero), singer-guitarist Stu Allen (Mars Hotel, Ghosts of Electricity, JGB), organist Melvin Seals (Jerry Garcia Band, JGB), and bassist Robin Sylvester (Bob Weir’s Ratdog, JGB, Ghosts of Electricity).
Music runs from Wright’s originals (often with lyrics by Robert Hunter) and on to fresh interpretations of Garcia and Grateful Dead tunes that mix rhythmic drive with often-cosmic group explorations. The Cast of Clowns always know where they’re starting, but the end is never known until they get there, after hours of ecstatic jamming for dancing. They may include some tunes from the new Melvin Seals album as well. Seals is best-known as the keyboard player in the Jerry Garcia Band, and continues that group as JGB.
David Gans is a longtime regular at Ashkenaz Grateful Dead nights. The Oakland-based singer-songwriter-guitarist-composer also has long written about the Dead, hosts the weekly “Dead to the World” program (Wednesdays on KPFA, 94.1 FM), and produces the nationally syndicated “Grateful Dead Hour.” He is Sirius Radio’s Grateful Dead channel programming consultant and co-hosts its Sunday afternoon “Tales from the Golden Road.” Gans is a prolific solo performer in clubs and at festivals around the country, where he mixes his own compositions with favorites by an array of folk and rock artists, often with social and political underpinnings.
When & Where
Ashkenaz is the East Bay's home to world music & dance... established 1973; nonprofit since 1997. We are always all ages! Kids 12 & under are admitted free unless otherwise noted.
All of our online ticket sales are will call. We will have a list of ticket buyers at the door; you do not need to bring a printout of your ticket/order confirmation.
Doors open 30 minutes before showtime, or 30 minutes before the dance lesson if there is one, unless otherwise noted.
Ashkenaz's Café opens when doors open and offers beer (draft and bottled), wine, kombucha, juices, sodas, coffee and tea, and snacks and light meals (all vegetarian, mostly organic).