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Jam Band Pioneers God Street Wine Reuniting For MS Benefit Shows

03/08/2010
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They were packing the house at The Wetlands and Irving Plaza before the term "jam band" existed. Dave Matthews Band and Sheryl Crow opened for them. Now God Street Wine will reunite for the first time in nearly a decade for two shows benefiting the National Multiple Sclerosis Society on July 9 and 10 at the Gramercy Theatre in New York City. This week, March 8-14, is MS Awareness Week in the U.S., and tickets for God Street Wine's show go on sale to the public this Friday, March 12.

The band has decided to come together after a request from their longtime stage manager, lighting director and close friend Michael Weiss, who was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis, a chronic degenerative disease of the central nervous system, in 2004. Weiss has since become very active in MS-related charity work.

God Street Wine -- Lo Faber (lead vocals, guitar), Aaron Maxwell (lead vocals, guitar), Tom Osander (drums), Dan Pifer (bass) and Jon Bevo (keyboards) -- formed in New York in 1988 and rose up through the improvisational rock scene alongside bands like DMB, Phish, Blues Traveler and the Spin Doctors. They joined the H.O.R.D.E. Tour traveling festival in 1995 and 1996, recorded six albums and performed more than 1,000 shows in their 11 years together. They were pioneers in the early days of the Internet, building an email list of 15,000-plus "Winos," as their fans were affectionately known, and producing one of the first band websites.

After experiencing several lineup changes in 1998, God Street Wine split up the next year, playing a three-night farewell engagement at the Wetlands Preserve in New York. Selected performances from these final shows were compiled into the posthumous live album "Good To the Last Drop" in 2000. The original five members last reunited publicly in September 2001 for a farewell show to the Wetlands, as the celebrated venue was closing that month.

Following the band's dissolution Faber wrote and recorded two rock operas. He is currently working on a Ph.D. in History at Princeton University, researching his dissertation on the transformation of New Orleans under American rule in the early 19th century. In the last ten years Osander has continued to record with artists including Lisa Hannigan ("Sea Sew"), Damien Rice ("O" and "9") and Herbie Hancock ("Possibilities") as well as touring regularly. The other band members moved on to other professional pursuits: Pifer is as an executive at a digital media licensing company, Bevo works as a software engineer, and Maxwell works as a technology integrator at a private school.

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