Pete Lavezzoli, born in South Florida, learned to read music and play piano, clarinet, and drums by age 10, becoming a professional drummer and singer in his late teens. Playing with Melvin Seals in the JGB Band since 2009 has been a source of great passion and pride for Pete, where the gospel and R&B-based repertoire of the Garcia Band is played to perfection. Pete says: “Lots of bands out there play the classic Garcia songs like “Cats Under the Stars,” but no one else can touch the way we do the real gospel material like “I’ll Be With Thee” and “Ride the Mighty High.” Only Melvin and the girls (Cheryl and Shirley) can bring that Spirit, because the Church is their lifeblood. There’s nothing else like it in the business.”
Alongside working with Melvin, Pete plays and records with guitarist Bobby Lee Rodgers (formerly with Col. Bruce Hampton and the Codetalkers), has moonlighted as a touring drummer with Chicago blues guitarist Albert Castiglia (formerly with Junior Wells), and recorded in the studio with Donna Jean Godchaux in Muscle Shoals for her solo album “Back Around.” Pete also founded the Florida-based Dead tribute band Crazy Fingers in 1990, and continues performing with them as well.
Lavezzoli is also a respected music historian with two books published by Continuum Books of New York & London. “The King of All, Sir Duke” (2001) explores the legacy of Duke Ellington in modern jazz, rock, and R&B music. “The Dawn of Indian Music in the West” (2006) tells the story of Ravi Shankar and Indian music’s influence on rock and jazz (including interviews with Mickey Hart, John McLaughlin, Ravi Shankar, and others, with a foreword by Shankar). Since 2003, Lavezzoli has used his reading voice in service to the blind, as a narrator for the US Library of Congress, recording for the Library’s Talking Books program.