From high-school pickup band to bar-scene institution, Love Seed Mama Jump is still keeping it loose and lively 25 years on

By Terry Plowman  |  Photograph by Kevin Fleming
From the August 2016 issue

LoveSeedMamaJump The Top Speed - Delaware Beach LifeWith its energized stage presence, twisted cover tunes, devoted following, and, of course, its enigmatic name, Love Seed Mama Jump is one of the most successful bands ever born and raised in coastal Delaware.

This summer, Love Seed (as the band is commonly known) is celebrating its 25th anniversary in typical fashion: with head-swiveling, stage-stomping, party-’til-last call performances, notably at the Rusty Rudder deck in Dewey Beach, its home base.

But avid music fans know all that, and are familiar with the group’s long, strange trip from lifeguard party band to the Washington Redskins’ “official” rock band, from musical upstarts to venerable veterans of the local scene.

So, since that’s common knowledge, this story will be a collection of little-known behind-the-scenes anecdotes about the early days — before Love Seed earned its well-deserved fame, when it was more about the usual motivations in starting a band: girls, fun, free beer and, oh yeah, musical expression.

Pre-Love Seed bands

While still in high school at Cape Henlopen, Rick Arzt sat in as singer with a number of local acts, such as the Gone Boys at The Front Page Restaurant and Sapphire at Sydney’s (a restaurant owned by his mother, Sydney Arzt), both in Rehoboth Beach. Around the same time, he met fellow student Will Stack, who played guitar. The duo started learning songs by such groups as Crosby, Stills & Nash, Simon & Garfunkel, and America. They also jammed with classmate Stuart Griffin and others, including Chad Jenkins, Dave Ducote and Scott Gordy. Will recalls the informal group using the name “The Fellas” when they performed “Born to Be Wild” and other songs at a Cape talent show in 1988, their senior year. Later, Rick, Will and Stuart performed as “The Fellas” at The Front Page Acoustic Jam Night, a popular open stage in the late 1980s-early 1990s.

Rick and Will expanded their musical connections while attending the University of Delaware, playing in several combinations. One of those groups, a trio that included friend Mike Leonard, was called the Biodegradable Love Turtles, an early example of their affinity for head-scratching names. Will theorizes that that band’s nickname, BLT, might have stemmed from the fact that Mike worked as a sandwich maker at Arena’s Deli in Rehoboth.

Meanwhile, Rick and Will met other guys in the local music scene, such as bassist Pete Wiedmann and guitarist Brian Gore.

Rick and Will — self-taught and still honing their musical chops — recognized the advanced skills that Pete and Brian brought to the UD frat parties and Reho­both lifeguard gatherings where they jammed in various “fluid line-ups,” as Will recalls. Inspired by and playing with some slightly older locals, such as Jim Elder, Mike Long, Dale Loeser and Ken Thompson, the fledgling musicians quickly developed their trademark loose-and-lively style. As Will tells it, “Rick was a great performer, I had energy and ideas, and Pete and Brian were musically phenomenal. It was a fortunate combination that clicked.”

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