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If you don't like "jam bands" but want to give it a chan


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Count Bass D mentioned that people should do what he did for different genres, and I'm procrastinating packing for Boston, so here goes.


I feel like jam bands get a bad rap on this message board and in general. People have this idea that all they are are a bunch of hippies standing on stage noodling around on guitars. I will be the first to admit that some bands do exactly that, and that is what makes the difference between good jam bands and bad ones. Good bands are so well crafted and meticulous with their performance that it does not seem improvised at all. All members are on the same page, changing arrangements, rhythm, key, scale, sometimes even genre simultaneously and seamlessly.


When listening to a band that is primarily instrumental based, as jam bands are, you have to approach it differently than you would most typical bands. Obviously, there are not going to be a lot of vocals. In a typical song with vocals, a lot of the emotion and power of that song comes from the arrangement of the vocals over the music and/or the content of the lyrics. With instrumental bands, you get that same emotion and power from the music itself. Maybe this is corny, but with good jam bands, the music speaks to me. I tend to hear vocals as just another instrument anyway, so I don't feel like something is missing when they aren't there. It's just how I interpret music. Generally a jam will begin slowly and build up to a climax, which is why the songs tend to be 7 or 8 minutes long at a minimum. They need time to build. Just as a good symphony, or film, or book. They usually start with a theme that never changes, then go into an improvised jam, and then end again with the beginning theme. The middle part is different at every show.


It's also important to note that while jam bands are usually all just lumped together, they are very different from each other. My two favorite bands, Perpetual Groove and String Cheese Incident, sound absolutely nothing like each other. This is because of both instrumentation and style. PGroove, as it is called, stays mostly with heavier, spacy, synthesized, psychedelic rock while Cheese uses bluegrass as a base and wanders off into various styles including southern rock, calypso, reggae, electronic, psychedelic, blues and more.


The first band I will introduce is String Cheese Incident because they just recently disbanded after playing together since 1993. There were six members in this band: acoustic guitar, bass, drums, percussion, keys, and electric guitar/mandolin/fiddle/various other instruments. Like most jam bands, most of their songs are long and blend into each other. Which means, the jam from one song will transition into the next song without stopping, so that you might hear two or three songs in 30 or 40 minutes with the band never stopping play once. This is denoted in set lists by Song 1>Song 2 with the ">" indicating a transition. Often there will be a Song 1>Song 2>Song 1 or even something as crazy as Song 1>Song 2>Song 3>Song 2>Song 1.


Here is a song from a show in March of 2000 in Oregon. It is called Little Hands. The first two minutes are mellow with vocals. After the verses end, the jam builds up with passionate piano, guitar, and fiddle bits. There are notable "sections" of the song as you will hear if you listen the whole way through (which I recommend). Altogether the thing is about 13 minutes long. Give it a chance. You aren't doing anything else anyway. Great quality audio.




This next one was played a couple songs after Little Hands at the same concert, and it includes an awesome horn section by Karl Denson and his group, Tiny Universe. It's called Come As You Are. It's a bit longer.



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*Zing!* Good one!!!! Sooo clever and witty!!!!!!


This is the exact stereotype I'm trying to break. I'm guessing you read the title, didn't read anything I wrote, didn't listen to any of the music in the links, and came up with that hilarious quip all by yourself!


If you aren't interested, please just don't post.

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