Ex-Seed Band member returns to Rockford March 19

Remember the Seed Band? They had a big following a number of years ago in the post-Grateful Dead jam band scene and played nearly every club, bar, festival and not-for-profit fund-raiser in town, until they followed the typical three- to five-year Rockford music cycle of fame and broke up. Well, ex-headman/singer/songwriter/guitarist Ernie Hendrickson, 26, has a new group from Chicago and will return to town to show it off March 19.

Titled “The Sham-Rock Space Jam,” the show seems to be taking on some sort of Sun Ra- meets- a- Leprechaun theme, which would suggest to the public that would be a lot of long “out there” solos with avant garde instrumentation and perhaps green beer.

But if my experience with Hendrickson proves correct, this is an inaccurate assumption. Not only is he an extremely talented guitarist well experienced in the three Ts (Tone, Touch and Taste), but his songs also display the experience of a musician who knows what his audience likes while never sacrificing musical experimentation.

Hendrickson has also gotten the Rockford Area Arts Council in on his vision to design the Kryptonite stage in a space theme.

Since the demise of the Seed Band and since moving to Chicago, Hendrickson has played a lot in the Rockford area doing some jazz gigs and other genres. But every time he returns, the crowds are never as big as they once were—perhaps because he hasn’t marketed himself as the ex-Seed man, or maybe because locals have forgotten how good he actually is.

Readers should be assured, from one who has most of The Seed Band’s old tapes and CDs, that not only has Hendrickson gotten better, he’s surpassed himself. Even though he cites Santana, Jerry Garcia, Bob Dylan, Tom Petty and John Lennon as some of his major influences, Hendrickson’s band seems to be more focused on actually making good music than displaying a hippie image. Hendrickson himself does highly resemble a younger version of Petty, but his voice carries more soul and less bitterness than my favorite rock performer.

The band is composed of locally-known sax man Ryan Swanson, Joel Packer on bass and vocals, Dave Haas on rhythm guitar and vocals, and Bret Zwier on drums. Packer is also an ex-Seed Band member, now living in Chicago with a pending marriage this summer. Zwier has played professionally from the East Coast to the Midwest with performers like Liquid Soul and Vince Welnick.

The Ernie Hendrickson Band guarantees an evening of soulful rock ‘n’ roll with funky folk aspects to round it off. There is a feeling of earnest love for music, and a devotion to making every note sound perfect, which is why the group is gaining such popularity in Chicago. And the show is free, unlike most of the Kryptonite events.

The Ernie Hendrickson Band will play with The Erik Gomez Project March 19 at Kryptonite. For information, call 965-0931.

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