Home Live Review Live Review: Greg Howe w/ Sammy Boller @ Jammin’ Java – 8/16/23

Live Review: Greg Howe w/ Sammy Boller @ Jammin’ Java – 8/16/23

Live Review: Greg Howe w/ Sammy Boller @ Jammin’ Java – 8/16/23
Greg Howe performs at Jammin' Java on August 16, 2023. (Photo by Marc Shea)

Jammin’ Java in Vienna, Virginia hosted an amazing display of virtuosity on a warm night last week. On that night, Greg Howe graced the stage in Vienna.

But before I get to his amazing band, I want to give a tip of the hat to the opener, Sammy Boller. It’s never easy being an opener. But when you open for a legendary guitarist like Greg Howe, the pressure is even greater. But Greg chose him for a reason and it was obvious from the first note. The 15-year-old kid in me was in heaven. Sammy’s sound was reminiscent of some of my favorite guitarists of the late ’80s/early ’90s like John Sykes and Chris Caffery.

After Sammy’s set at Jammin’ Java on August 16, Greg Howe and his band were introduced. And a guitarist of Greg’s stature requires a band of equal accomplishment. Drums were handled by Joel Taylor, who has played with luminaries like Stanley Clarke, Allan Holdsworth, and Al DiMeola among others. Bass was played by the legendary Stu Hamm. Stu’s credits include Steve Vai, Joe Satriani, and Frank Gambale, as well as his solo albums.

The show was set up a little differently than most I’ve been to at Jammin’ Java. Instead of general admission, the space was set up with tables and seating. Greg and the band kicked off the show with “Kick It All Over” from his 1988 debut solo album, Greg Howe. Greg and the band had a natural ease when playing. They didn’t have to jump all over the stage. In fact, the show was definitely focused on the music and not histrionics.

Watch Greg Howe and friends perform “Kick It All Over” live on YouTube:

One of the great things about the show was how much fun Greg was having. In between songs he was joking around and interacting with the crowd. After five incredible songs, Greg and Joel took a little break while Stu played a solo bass rendition of Led Zeppelin’s “Going To California.”

When the band came back on stage, they tore into a great rendition of “Morning View” from Greg’s Sound Proof album. As soon as they wrapped p Morning View, they invited a special guest to the stage. Her name is Pure Joy and she’s traveling with the band, handling their merch. She’s also one heck of a vocalist. She hopped on stage and ripped into a killer version of “Rock Steady.” She stayed on stage for another song; the second Led Zeppelin cover of the night, “What Is And What Should Never Be.” And just as quick as she came on stage, she left to man the merch table.

Greg, Stu, and Joel played three more songs, wrapping the show up with Acute from Greg’s album, Five. After the show, the Greg and Stu hung out at the merch table with Sammy Boller and Pure Joy to talk to the fans, sign items, take photos, and shake hands (or bump elbows in the case of Stu Hamm). They hung out until every picture had been taken and every item signed. If you’re a fan of shred guitar, don’t miss this show.

Set List

  • Kick It All OVer
  • Tease
  • Proto-Cosmos
  • Bird’s Eye View
  • Lucky 7
  • Going To California
  • Morning View
  • Rock Steady
  • What Is And What Should Never Be
  • The Portrait
  • Jump Start
  • Acute

Here are some photos of Greg Howe and company performing at Jammin’ Java on August 16, 2023. All pictures copyright and courtesy of Marc Shea. 


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