For more than three decades, the original Sweetwater was famous as the place where world famous musicians would hop on stage with local bands for an impromptu jam.
The new Sweetwater Music Hall, which opened late last month, gave a small crowd a taste of that sonic serendipity Tuesday night, as Sammy Hagar and former Grateful Dead drummer Mickey Hart hopped on stage to join a group called the Bellboyz Jazz Trio.
“It was wild,” said Bellboyz guitarist Dave Bell, who owns Bellboy Recording studio in Richmond.
Bell put the trio together for the party at the last minute, grabbing saxophonist Joe Cohen and bassist Doug Ebert for a night of mellow jazz music to accompany a “hearts and flowers” Valentine’s Day event featuring hibiscus champagne cocktails and desserts from chef Gordon Drysdale.
After a set of instrumental version of jazz tunes like “My Funny Valentine,” the trio decided to shift into blues. Bell spotted the Red Rocker, Hart and Sweetwater co-owner Bob Weir in the crowd.
“Before long, here comes Sammy, who grabbed my bossa nova guitar, and Mickey used my guitar case and we found a snare drum somewhere,” Bell said.
The group dove into some traditional blues songs, eventually shifting into a lengthy blues jam.
“It was unbelievable," Bell said. "And what a beautiful club. It was a serendipitous affair.”