There is a feeling you get when you see a jam band perform live. Feelings of peace, no worries, a sense of euphoria even. I guess depending on what you, yourself have ingested on that particular night/day could have an effect, but even completely sober, your anxieties just kinda float away with the sound. No worries about tomorrow’s hectic schedule, the bills you need to pay, the way you look or dress makes no real difference because at that moment you are chill. And I suppose this all depends on if the band is good at jamming. Finding a good jam band is not always an easy task. The thing is, its hard to write about a good jam song unless the reader has time to sit down and appreciate the music you are going to lay out in front of them. The very definition of a jam band is a “rock band that plays music characterized by long improvisational passages.” It is hard for the radio to portray that festival feeling for the mere five minutes it has to play the song, never quite grasping the same emotion you get watching the band perform at a show or festival. The sounds able to completely surround you, the ambiance juuuuuust right. There is no Grammy for best jam, leaving me saying wait whaaa?
I guess my first jam band love would have to be The Allman Brothers, my dad always singing along playing his air guitar. The song warming my soul. Naturally “Jessica” would be my favorite, singing sounds rather than the words. The first CD I ever truly stole would be Grateful Dead, The Best of the Grateful Dead. I still have that CD, I guess I am afraid Karma will take its toll and steal it back so I keep it close. That CD may solely responsible for many college late night jam fests of my own. “Sugar Magnolia”, “St. Stephen” and “Casey Jones” leading the repeats. Also the names of my three fish that I have no doubt were descendants of some crazy ass rock stars, because I have no other explanation on how they survived my apartment back then and their feeding schedules. Then hello Mr. Dave Mathews and his amazing band. We all know my love for them and the experiences I could have never had without seeing them live and beginning to truly appreciate the music for what it is. I am forever indebted to my cousin for introducing me to Widespread Panic. Taking me to Atlanta to see them perform for New Years Eve was incredible, amazing and a very eye-opening experience (or eye closing) staying up all night going through the set lists listening to Talking Heads as we sang, “Burning Down the House”, a song Panic covered that night. But the best experience of my music life would have to be given to that of Bonnaroo 2002, the inaugural year. My best friend Stevie, telling me that spending $100 on a ticket is money that he knew would be a lot, but totally worth it- almost laughable now. Introduced to String Cheese, moe., I got to see Ben Harper and Jack Johnson *swoon*, Galactic, John Butler Trio, Old Crow, Gov’t Mule, Trey Anastasio, Phil Lesh and Friends with Bob Weir, Keller Williams, Bela Fleck, Mofro, Dirty Dozen Brass Band, Ween, North Mississippi Allstars, and Robert Randolph and the Family Band. All of these amazing bands, artists, real rock stars in my hometown. I had no idea how lucky I was to be there, yet I knew deep down this was special. I made a mixed CD while I was there in one of the tents they had set up. You could pick out songs from the artists performing there, I still have it. You could say I got more than my money’s worth. I also slept for a week solid, no doubt with dreams of the super jam running through my head. My life would never be the same…
I like to think it wasn’t. My Morning Jacket is probably one of my absolute favorites at the moment. I come across people who say they just don’t get it, their music, why do I like it? All I can say in response is go to a show! It will never sound the same to you, you will embrace the music and you might even love it! Greensky Bluegrass and Yonder Mountain String Band’s shows will not be missed by me when they come to town as well. That mandolin gets me every time! I am getting more into Tedeschi Trucks Band, The London Souls, Lettuce and these new guys Fruition. Hard Working Americans are so much fun to see and of course Chris Robinson Brotherhood, his voice.
So get out there and enjoy a show I guess is my point behind all of this… Music should be fun and music should be an experience. What is your experience?