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n ortn America, s
hottest live groups
PLUS how to tape and
trade their shows
The publication of this book has been generously supported by the Government
of Canada through the Book Publishing Industry Development Program.
Copyright © Dean Budnick, 1998
All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be
reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted
in any form by any process - electronic, mechanical,
photocopying, recording, or otherwise - without the prior
written permission of the copyright owners and ECW PRESS.
CANADIAN CATALOGUING IN PUBLICATION DATA
Jam bands: North America's hottest live groups
plus how to tape and trade their shows
1. Rock groups - United States. 2. Rock groups - Canada.
3. Sound - Recordings and reproducing - Amateurs' manuals.
ML395B927 1998 781 66'092'27 C98-931411-1
Cover design by Guylame Regimbald.
Design and imaging by ECW Type & Art, Oakville, Ontario.
Printed and bound by Imprimerie Interglobe, Beauceville, Quebec.
Distributed in Canada by General Distribution Services,
325 Number College Blvd., Etobicoke, Ontario M9W 7C3.
Distributed in the United States by Login Publishers Consortium,
1436 West Randolph Street, Chicago, Illinois, U.S A 60607.
Distributed in the United Kingdom by Turnaround Publisher Services,
Unit 3 Olympia Trading Estate, Coburg Road, Wood Green, London N2Z 6TZ.
Published by ECW PRESS,
2120 Queen Street East, Suite 200,
Toronto, Ontario M4E 1E2.
PRINTED AND BOUND IN CANADA
Agents of Good Roots
Allman Brothers Band
Aquarium Rescue Unit
Barefeet and Company
Big Head Todd and the Monsters
B i g Sugar
The Big Wu
Blue Yard Garden
Ton! Brown Band
Burlap to Cashmere
Cool Water Canyon
Day by the River
Deep Banana Blackout
The Disco Biscuits
Donna the Buffalo
Gibb Droll Band
Dude of Life
Emma Gibbs Band
Bela Fleck and the Flecktones
Freddy Jones Band
From Good Homes
G. Love and Specia Sauce
David Gans and the Broken Angels
God Street Wine
Charlie Hunter and F ound for Pound
Sherri Jackson Band
Jazz Mandolin Project
Jioolp thp Handlp
Jerry Joseph and the Jackmormons
B I B
111 B R t^y^ n B^ <^ "r i
L,o,i i y
Mango J a
Dave Matthews Bam
Edwin McCain Band
Medeski, Martin and Wood
Moon Boot Lover
Mountain Express Band
David Nelson Bam
New Brown Hat
Next Stop Willoughby
Old Dead Bug
One Step Beyond
Poi Dog Ponderinc
Post Junction . .
Michael Ray and tl Cosmic Krewe
Merl Saunders anc the Rainforest Band
Screamin' Cheetal Wheelies
T h e Slip
Gordon Stone Trio
String Cheese Incident
To the Moon Alice
Omar Torrez Band
The Tragically Hip
Derek Trucks Band
Nathan Whitt and Chief's Tale
The Why Store
Appendix A How to Tape and Trade Live Shows
Appendix B Wetlands: Ten Years of Grooves
Appendix C Additional Resources: Magazines
a n d Music
Appendix D Zero Degrees of Separation
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AC KN O W L E D G M E N T S
As one might imagine, there are hundreds of people who contributed
enormously to this project: band members, managers, record companies, fans, and numerous observers of the scene. I wish to offer them
all rny profuse thanks. I would also like to single out the helpful,
friendly people at ECW Press who helped Jam Bands come to fruition:
Robert Lecker, Holly Potter, Guylaine Regimbald, and Mary Williams.
1 am grateful, as well, for the assistance and support of my family:
Alfred Budnick, Janet Budnick, Stacy Budnick (check out her handiwork at www.jambands.com), !da Budnick, other Budnicks, and, of
course, the ever-affable Leanne Barrett. Having said all that, for
sundry reasons I particularly lift my coffee mug in gratitude to Randy
Alexander, Sam Ankerson, Larry Bloch, Chris Brewer, Toni Brown, Roy
Carter, Lynn Cingari, Darren Cohen, Lee Crumpton, Jenny Davis, Jon
Dindas, Charlie Dirksen, DMA, Walter Durkacz, John Dwork, Benjy
Eisen, J. Tayloe Emery, Brett Fairbrother, Peter Ferioli, Jakob Field,
Curt Foehl, Canyon Foot, Andy Gadiel, Pete Gershon, Ellis Goddard,
Jacob Gold, Jake Gold, Sarah Gowan, Michele Gross, Andrew Haan,
Paul Hagen, Ken Hays, Jorge Hernandez, Rob "Gumby" Hillard,
Sara Kelly Jones, Carrie Lombardi, John Lynskey, Neil Mandel, Lynne
McGee, Zane Nashed, Brad Navin, Allen Ostroy, Paul Parietti, Chris
Patras, Lisette Rioux, David Saslavsky, Doron Segal, Pete Shapiro,
David Shulman, Pete Sienkiewicz, Manny Sinnegan, Thomas Smith,
Andrew Stahl, Jake Szufarowski, Ben Tanen, Jon Topper, Howard
Turkenkopf, Rob Turner, Joe Urtz, John Wanzung, Kirk West, Carol
Wade, Jeff Waful, Andrew Wagner, Jim Walsh, Rebecca Yudenfreund,
Chris Zahn, Jon Zazula, Marsha Zazula, and Gina Z,
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Something is in the air. I've been enjoying live improvisational
music for many years now, but it seems that today, more than at
any other time 1 can recall, we are awash in accomplished band
incorporating a range ot genres and unified by a commitment to
improvisation. Jon Zazula (impresario of Crazed Management
who guides Disco Biscuits, Juggling Suns, and Ominous Seapods with his wife and partner, Marsha), has described it to me
as a New Renaissance, and I think he's right. What's more, 1 can
see by the swelling audiences at many of these shows that
people are eager to experience this music. Nowadays, individuals
are drawn to those bands that vest every performance with vigor
and creativity, that are not merely playing the same songs note
for note night after night. These groups are stretching, allowing
their inspiration to lead them into some fascinating realms. All
of the bands collected in this book have the courage and artistry
to do this, and there are plenty of them out there for you to
discover and enjoy.
The impetus for this book was supplied by the jazz and blues
encyclopedias that line my bookshelves. Over the years, I've
acquired a large but in many cases sketchy knowledge of many
notable jazz and blues performers. So, when one of these artists comes to town or when someone recommends a particular
recording to me, I'll often consult one of my books in order to
learn a little more about the performer in question. Similarly, I
had come to realize that there were many jam bands whose
names 1 recognized without knowing much more about them. So
I wrote this book to fill my own need - and, I hope, yours as well.
My aim was to provide a resource: when a group comes through
your town or someone mentions a band, you can pick up this
book and enlighten yourself. If one of the jam bands listed is
playing near you, I hope you'll decide to check it out, as I believe
that every band I've included is well worth seeing; that's why
they're here. Still, of course, everyone has his or her own taste.
I have to confess that an additional goal I had in putting this
book together was to spread the good word about bands that
you may not know (and that may not be heading to your local
venues — at least not yet). There are a number of captivating
groups out there that just tear it up night after night but are not
yet national names. Also, go out and support your local heroes
to keep their momentum building. Ensure that they keep playing
so that we will all be able to enjoy them for years to come.
Each entry in this book introduces you to a different band. I
have tried to evoke their aims and accomplishments in a few
paragraphs. In almost every case, I have highlighted their most
recent recordings to give you a better idea of their artistry and
intent. I hope that the web information I have provided will allow
you to acquaint yourself further with many of these groups.
The appendices are intended to complement your experience
and provide a more expansive overview of recent developments.
Appendix A, "How to Tape and Trade Live Shows," will be most
helpful to those of you who do not yet have a massive tape
collection or are debating whether to purchase your first portable
deck and mikes. Appendix B, "Wetlands: Ten Years of Grooves,"
will introduce some readers to a unique and wonderful venue
and will serve to enhance the memories of other readers. The
information in Appendix C, "Additional Resources: Magazines
and Music," tips you to organizations, publications, and other
resources devoted to the thriving jam-band scene. Finally, Appendix D, "Zero Degrees of Separation," outlines a game that I
hope will entertain you while you're riding to a show or during a
All in all, I hope my efforts lead you to appreciate the many
wonderful bands that are currently performing across the country
on a daily basis. Purchase their recordings, collect their
tapes, but above all go out and see them play live. Join in the
jamboree (and please feel free to contact me via the Web site
AGENT POR E
BISICYs piano, keyboards, wocals
CHAPAD©S° tenor saxophone
SAM MARTI NA: alto saxophone, vocals
BRETT ROTHENHAUS- drums
ALEX WEINSTESN^ guitar, banjo, wocaSs
Agent Porridge may be the quintessential American band in that the
group's music is an amalgamation of the country's indigenous musical
forms, from jazz and funk to bluegrass. The group formed at the State
University of New York's Fredonia campus in 1995, and the only thing
more diverse than its members' musical tastes may be their academic
majors: these range from English education to speech pathology to
recombinant-gene technology. Speaking about the band's musical
eclecticism, guitarist Alex Weinstein (the lone music major) states:
"We've followed the examples of the bands out there that we're really
into, and we've tried to cover as much ground as we can."
The members of Agent Porridge believe that the group's live performances, which draw on so many genres, achieve unity through a
collective enthusiasm. Weinstein adds, "we try to put a ton of energy
into it, we try to have fun with the crowd. As we've been growing,
though, we've turned more to the funk side of things. The horns are
very Maceo Parker influenced." When asked how the horn players
occupy themselves when they are not being utilized in a particular
song, Weinstein answers, "Well they certainly don't dance. Actually,
one of them [Sam Martina] sings, and the other [Brian Chapados]
does some freestyle rapping when we give him the nod."
Another of the band's strengths is its core of capable songwriters.
Although keyboardist Brian Bisky composed the bulk of the songs on
Agent Porridge's first release, other band members also contribute.
Weinstein notes, "the rule is that once you bring an idea to the band
it becomes a communal thing." This last phrase seems to capture the
spirit of Agent Porridge, which is starting to build a following of
devoted listeners who anticipate that the group will provide music,
energy, and humor for some time to come.
D I S C O G R A P H Y
The Territory Shall Be the Universe (1997). This release presents
the band's diverse offerings. Within the first cut, "Push Me Over,"
jangly guitar gives way to an unexpected, funky horn break. "Where
You Are," the bluegrass number that follows, tiptoes a fascinating
line between enthusiasm and caricature (Weinstein's brief turn on
the jawharp, Snoopy's instrument of choice in Snoopy, Come
Home, enhances the mystery). "Broadway Joe," which comes up
next, is an extended instrumental that veers off to explore new sonic
avenues in a manner similar to the elaborate orchestrations of Trey
Anastasio. Moreover,"Detune" evokes images of chanting monks
who have been offered some swinging sax assistance, while a
steady reggae backbeat defines "Ziggy." Finally, with its lively cover
of James Brown's "Pass the Peas," the band demonstrates yet
BRIAN JONES: drums, vocals
J.C. KUHL: saxophone
STEWART MYERS: bass, vocals
ANDREW WINN: guitar, vocals
Richmond, Virginia's, Agents of Good Roots
is a band that seeks to craft strong compositions yet chooses to transform these creations
in the live setting. The quartet will often use
its well-designed songs as a starting point for
some agile improvisation.
For instance, J.C. Kuhl might interject a vivid saxophone soliloquy.
Andrew Winn may then counter with a guitar solo that reflects his
classical training. Meanwhile, bassist Stewart Myers and drummer
Brian Jones will lock in on their own animated grooves.
The band has honed its performance skills through an intensive
touring schedule. Beginning as a trio - guitar, bass, and drums Agents of Good Roots first performed at an open-mike night in the
fall of 1992, garnering immediate recognition for its engaging songs
and Winn's distinctive, gruff vocals (the product of an operation to
rebuild his larynx after a skiing accident rendered him speechless for
a few months). Three years later, the band decided to draw in a
saxophone player, working with a few before inviting Kuhl to join.
Myers recalls, "We were excited by what J.C. offered. He added a
heavy jazz element, along with his strong musical sense and ability."
The band was soon averaging more than two hundred dates a year.
As a result, Agents of Good Roots has emerged at the fore of a
new generation of jam bands. Nonetheless, Myers expresses some
discomfort with the appellation: "I'm not altogether comfortable with
the term 'jam band,' because we're definitely song-oriented. There is
a stigma that a jam band can't write a song and that's why they rely
so heavily on jamming. Then again, when you see us live, we definitely
expand on things and really take it to another level. In part, I think,
that's why things are starting to build. We are really starting to crank."
D I S € O G R A P HY
Where'd You Get That Vibe? (1996)
One by One (1998). Agents of Good Roots cuts a wide swath on this
release. "Come On" is an edgier offering with some gutsy guitar
riffs. "Upspin" seems at the outset to be an entrancing shuffle but
soon transforms into a vibrant slice of soul, abetted by strident
background vocals. "Miss Misbelieving" introduces some country
twang. "Smiling Up the Frown" is mellow, jazzier fare enriched by
Winn's piano and Kuhl's saxophone accents. Finally, "Time Bomb"
is an aptly titled fulmination.
GREGG ALLMAN: vocals, organ, and piano
DICKEY BETTS: vocals, electric and acoustic guitar
OTEIL BURBRIDGE: bass
JAIMOE JOHNSON: drums and percussion
JACK PEARSON: electric and acoustic guitar
BUTCH TRUCKS: drums and percussion
MARC QUI NONES: percussion
The Allman Brothers Band remains one of the most riveting groups
committed to the live-concert experience. The band crafts a sound
that has been road tested for over twenty-five years while remaining
fresh, free, and engrossed in the moment. At times, the band's guitars
may command attention, whether it be Dickey Betts's passionate
phrasings, Jack Pearson's stinging slide, or their rousing twin leads.
On other occasions, the absorbing, soulful vocals of Gregg Allman
hold sway. The bass lines of barefooted Oteil Burbridge prove by
turns both rock steady and harmonically inventive. Situated above
these players on the stage is the trio that fashions a spellbinding
percussive collage comprised of Butch Trucks's thunderous drive,
Jaimoe Johnson's crackling counterpoints, and Marc Quinones's lucid
flurry. There's a lot happening here.
Author Dean Budnick Isbn 978-1459651319 File size 20 MB Year 1998 Pages 538 Language English File format PDF Category Music Book Description: FacebookTwitterGoogle+TumblrDiggMySpaceShare Jam Bands is the first comprehensive guide to the emerging wave of improvisational music now thriving in North America. The book spans the continent, identifying more than 175 of the most noteworthy jam bands. Each entry includes photos, biographies, discographies, personal insights from band members, web site listings, and descriptions and analyses of each group’s distinctive musical styles and talents. Additionally, since all the profiled bands encourage live taping, Jam Bands offers a section devoted to the art of recording concerts and building a live – music library. Written by noted live – music fanatic and taper Dean Budnick, author of The Phishing Manual, Jam Bands is sure to please both long – time devotees of the jam band scene and new initiates as well. From Aquarium Rescue Unit to Zero, with stops along the way for moe., Medeski, Martin & Wood, Rusted Root, Strangefolk, and String Cheese Incident, Jam Bands will reacquaint readers with cherished groups and introduce new favourites, while unlocking the mysteries of taping. Download (20 MB) Guitar Makers: The Endurance of Artisanal Values in North America Metallica: The Complete Illustrated History Jazz For Dummies (2nd edition) Balkan Fascination Guitar Theory For Dummies Load more posts