The Official KT Tunstall Board

Jam Bands
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Author:  STPK [ Thu Apr 28, 2011 2:13 am ]
Post subject:  Jam Bands

I can't seem to find any prior thread on the subject of jam bands. This would include bands like Phish, Black Crowes, Umphreys Mcghee, String Cheese Incident, Perpetual Groove and Widespread Panic (my favorite.) The blend of rock, blues, jazz and folk into 10 minute meandering songs that even sometimes cause the bands to forget what song they were playing. Note that I did not include Grateful Dead, arguably the originator of jam music. My experience is any thread that starts with mentioning the Grateful Dead winds up being a thread about the Grateful Dead. It would be better to talk about what their members are doing since ending GD, (bands such as Further.)

Granted this sort of music can get rather tedious to follow, especially for those programmed for 3 minute songs. Personally I dig music that can string three songs into one and wind up returning to the first song after 15 minutes. Curious to know if there are other fans of Jam here and if our Euro friends have any exposure to these bands. I know Panic and Phish do Euro tours although it's not very frequent.

Author:  Andy L [ Thu Apr 28, 2011 11:23 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Jam Bands

Great topic Paul :smt023 Pretty much anyone on here will tell you that I'm a HUGE Black Crowes fan (going to see 5 Euro dates in 8 days in July) and I guess the jam band scene forms the core part of my music taste nowadays (and has done so for the last few years). Although that depends on how strict your definition of jam band is :lol: I lean towards the more blues-rock end of the spectrum - the Allmans, Derek Trucks Band, North Mississippi Allstars etc - as opposed to bands like Phish and SCI. I love the Grateful Dead's Europe '72 period in particular but have never been able to really get into a lot of their other work for some reason.

I tape and collect live recordings and for me, it all enhances the experience of being a fan. I have 500+ Crowes shows (and that's not counting DVDs, just FLAC) and when the songs are stretched out, played slightly (or drastically in some cases) differently each night, when setlists are mixed up, it's like having 500 different albums to enjoy. This kind of stuff isn't for everyone - and frankly, you won't find too many other fans on here, it's not that kind of forum - but I enjoy musical explorations (at the risk of sounding a bit Spinal Tap) and don't find it tedious at all :)

Bands like this do have a small but dedicated following in Europe but generally, it frustrates me how little exposure they get here. While I'll always snap up tickets and travel around the country when they do tour here (e.g. two weeks before the Crowes in July, I'm going to see Tedeschi Trucks Band and then Gregg Allman three nights later - we definitely struck it lucky here this year, it's not normally like that), I always think that I'd go and see a lot more gigs if I lived Stateside :lol: And a huge bonus of going to see multiple dates when bands of this ilk do tour here is that the setlists usually vary from night to night - I love going to a show and having no idea what to expect!

Author:  STPK [ Thu Apr 28, 2011 1:38 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Jam Bands

You nailed every bit of what turns me on about live jam music Andy! You are probably correct, this might be a lonely thread with just you and I. :D

I'm just as rabid about WSP as you are the Crowes. Although I can only count ~50 shows to my collection. However I buy the recordings from their soundboard (for the reasons I discussed on the Rush thread.) I'll probably wind up with 500 eventually. I love the Crowes too. It's a shame when they come local, they only play small venues and sell out so fast it's hard to get tickets.

I certainly do count Trucks, Allman Bros as jam. They come through the Midwest fairly often and the cool thing is, sometimes they (as most jam bands) wind up playing outdoor festivals with little prior announcement. I've been to festivals to see a headline and found I missed Trucks showed up as a late unannounced fill in earlier in the day.

Phish and WSP are huge in the states. They sell out the 5-10,000 seat venues and the shows are an experience and you are correct, the almost random setlists make it so much more enjoyable. I'm guessing the reason jam appeals more in the states is due to a larger country western fanbase that crosses over to jam and likewise (rock fans crossing over to country.) Of course it could simply be the fact it's good drinking music too. :smt043

Author:  Andy L [ Thu Apr 28, 2011 2:36 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Jam Bands

It's great to be able to discuss this kind of stuff with you - I love this forum but jam band fans have been in short supply in the five years I've been on here :lol: I don't know if this is the case with other bands but the Crowes forums are a LOT less laid-back/friendly and regularly descend into flame wars!

I've not really heard much Panic but I do have recordings of the Allmans from the co-headlining tour the two bands did in the Fall of '09 and there are some smoking performances in the sit-ins which happened every night I think. The Crowes sold out their European tour (5 non-festival dates in 1500-2000 capacity venues) in 6 days which is incredible - I had no idea they were still so popular here - but they're an exception I think, you would be more likely to see jam bands playing clubs or 800-1000 capacity halls perhaps. Certainly not the arenas that you mention!

I'm so envious that you get artists like Derek Trucks turning up unannounced at festivals :o To have something like that here would be amazing and unthinkable too - I would love to go to something like Wanee and see a whole festival's worth of that music, there isn't really any equivalent here (the closest thing here would be the small rural blues festivals we get but nothing of that calibre).

Author:  Andy B [ Thu Apr 28, 2011 8:42 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Jam Bands

Does that mean YES and RUSH are jam bands?..they definitely produce songs longer than 3 minutes... :D

ANDY B... :smt023

Author:  STPK [ Thu Apr 28, 2011 10:07 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Jam Bands

I don't know about YES, but I know Rush does not change their setlist, mix two or three songs together, cover other bands songs (Panic will take mudane hits and turn them into a 10 minute experience) or allow themselves to make mistakes. I'd say they are sort of an anti-jam band. I see where you are coming from Andy but I'd say Rush is too technical and too perfectionist to be called jam. Besides, don't they sort of own that category referred to as "Progressive Rock" anyway? :smt023

Author:  The Judist [ Thu Apr 28, 2011 11:55 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Jam Bands

Mixed feelings about the jam band concept. On one hand, it's great to hear a bit of spontaneity, but on the otherhand sometimes I wonder if I really want to be hearing people making stuff up on the spot, I mean anyone can do that!
Regatta De Blanc was the title track that came out of a stage jam by The Police that they did in the middle of Can't Stand Losing You to make their set longer.
Ee-oh ee-yeah ee-yeah-yo

Author:  STPK [ Fri Apr 29, 2011 1:20 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Jam Bands

Well it certainly separates the winners from the losers. Yes, anyone can do it, but only professionals who do it for years can figure out how to weave their way around each other and wind up in the same spot at just the right time. That right there is why I love jam. There is nothing like being close enough to a stage to watch the musicians wade their way around a song, while not straying too far. The best bands can simply work out their "trails" by eye contact and subtle body signals. A rotten (or very inexperienced) jam band can easily lose their trails and wind up sounding like Spinal Tap when they did that free form jazz.

You have to also realize that bands like Panic and Phish do not make up songs on stage. They already have plenty of experience with each song and are adept at fitting small solos or trying some new sounds within a window where they know they have to return to the song. Probably the worst thing I've seen a professional jam band do is losing that window and then couldn't find a place to meet up to end the song. In that case, great bands have a good frontman who will take a lead, do a little hand signal to the sound board guy to make him louder than the rest and then he leads the rest to a point where they can end the song together.

What I also find amazing is one would think that jam would be ripe for obvious mistakes. They do happen but not so obvious that it sticks out like a sore thumb. Oh...and I have never seen a jam singer forget the words. :smt043

Author:  STPK [ Sat Apr 30, 2011 3:49 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Jam Bands

A few samples of Widespread Panic doing Jam, This first clip is after an intermission where the drummer and percussionist first come out and start a little beat action. As the rest of the members come onto stage they start a little warming up action with their instruments, not really playing a song, just working some chords (although the lead guitar is doing some pretty amazing stuff here). Eventually at the 4 min mark the lead singer John Bell looks at a few to cue the into to the song.

Often Jam bands have other artists join them for a show. Violinist Marie Ann Calhoun has joined Panic on numerous occasions. This sample features two songs glued together at around 4:15.

Also many youtube clips with Derek Trucks but too crappy to link here.

Author:  STPK [ Mon May 09, 2011 6:11 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Jam Bands

Probably the most played Crowes live stuff on Sirius JAM station is I Ain't Hiding, incredible song.

Author:  Andy L [ Tue May 10, 2011 10:51 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Jam Bands

I think IAH is a decent enough song but for me, the current era of the Crowes isn't as good (in terms of both live and studio work) as their 'classic' line up with Marc Ford on guitar and Eddie Harsch on keys. It's not like Sam and Arnie leaving KT's band, the whole sound of the band changed when they left and the setlists are generally less adventurous too. I'd give anything to have them back, it's always a huge regret that I'll probably never get to see them with that lineup :(

Author:  STPK [ Tue May 10, 2011 3:23 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Jam Bands

That's an interesting viewpoint Andy. Some would argue that the Crowes setlist is actually more adventurous now. The rabid fans of their current gen stuff claim this is the best they have ever been. They certainly sell out very quickly here.

Right now I am ambivalent as I am just starting to acquire their new material for listening. From what I hear on the Sirius Jam station though, is some very good live stuff that is very recent. I should add that I really got tired of their Ford/Harsch years, mainly due to the FM oriented rock sound that was was overplayed during their string of hits. I view this latest incarnation with Dickinson and MacDougall as refreshing. Certainly it's a different sound and it sure sounds like they are more adventurous now (but that could change once I get really familiar with their stuff over the last few years.)

IMO, a band has entered a legendary status when you can argue about *which generation* of their music is the best (Rolling Stones, Red Hot Chili Peppers, etc.)

Author:  Andy L [ Tue May 10, 2011 5:40 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Jam Bands

You know Paul, I've frequented two Crowes forums for the best part of 4 years and you're one of the first people (if not the first) I've ever read who's said that they got tired of the Ford-era band :lol:

If you listen to more of their studio stuff over their live shows, then I could understand getting tired of hearing She Talks To Angels, Remedy etc. overplayed on the radio. But for me, their live shows from 1992-97 and 2005-06 are untouchable and while I enjoy the band's current incarnation, I can't pretend I enjoy it as much as those eras. Luther's a very good guitarist and I love his work in NMAS but for me, his tone in the Crowes is too muddy, not distorted enough and he relies on slide too much as well. Ford has a better sense of melody and timing - not unlike Mick Taylor in the Stones - and knew when NOT to play too. Adam's style of playing is funk and it doesn't fit for me - it sounds too heavy-handed and mechanical and doesn't flow like Ed's playing did. Having said that, they do well on the newer albums although Warpaint is a pretty weak album to begin with IMHO.

As for setlists, I think the period they took most risks in was maybe 1995-97 ( has a good selection of 1996-97 and 2005-06 shows) and if you check some of them out, you'll hear all kinds of new jams, segues and songs they've never done since. The most recent tour last year had its moments and quite a few rarities but they relied on the staples (e.g. Thorn In My Pride, Wiser Time) more than any other post-reunion tour they've done - which is fair enough, the tour was promoting Croweology and the band never made any secret of the fact that the rarities would be mixed in with the hits - and when you're listening to the shows, I never got the same sense of variety that you got with the 2005 shows or the sheer randomness of the Furthur Fest '97 sets.

Hmmm that might've come across as a bit more rabid than I intended :lol: Good point about legendary status too!

Author:  STPK [ Tue May 10, 2011 6:21 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Jam Bands

Andy, Yep, I'll admit that I got to a point where I just couldn't listen to them any longer, due to that constant FM churn of the very songs you listed. I really didn't have much exposure to anything they have done live until satellite radio came in and started playing their jam music. Which is why I am now starting to backfill. I would appreciate any "must listen" recommendations from that period (beyond their studio recordings) that would aide me.

Clearly you are into the technical aspects of each musician, which is way over my head at this point (although I appreciate the reference to Mick Taylor, who I think was the best influence on the Stones ever.) I can only speak for the live stuff they play on Sirius, which always sounds great but maybe I am only getting exposure from what the DJ is biased towards. I also have friends that swear by their current lineup as well (all were fans of their old lineups as well.) I will greatly appreciate any recommendations of live sets (including the bootlegs.)

Author:  Andy L [ Tue May 10, 2011 6:39 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Jam Bands

Fair enough Paul - that's not really a problem here because the Crowes simply don't get played on mainstream radio and classic rock stations are still something of a niche. And it's funny you say that, one of the new topics on the Crowes forums this week has been how much airtime they're getting on Sirius's Jam On station (which is what I presume you've been listening to).

I couldn't agree more about Mick Taylor :) I think the man's a god and I consider myself very lucky to have seen him live twice even though his chops aren't what they were. As for show recommendations, that's a bit like picking your favourite child :lol: But if you drop me your address, I'll happily get some shows out to you! Do you want them in FLAC or as audio CDs? I can get a lot more on fewer discs with the former... and you prefer soundboards/FM over audience tapes as well don't you?

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