Teach me your jam band ways
June 6, 2012 11:24 AM   Subscribe

New to jam bands, how do you get into a new band when there's such an immense amount of material to go through?

Upon moving to Colorado from the middle of nowhere, KS, I discovered that I've been missing out on some pretty good music. I mainly listened to metal and classic rock, and "jam bands" to me were just something that people that listen to country called your music if you were one of them damn dirty hippies that didn't like country. Turns out I'm actually a pretty big fan of them. STS9 and Lotus are my 2 new favorites, I've got tickets for both at Red Rocks this summer and I'm super pumped.

Anyways, from watching youtube videos, I can tell that live shows are waaayy better than their studio albums, but I really have no Idea where to start... seems like most people have 5 favorite shows that they've been to and 10 more favorite live albums. Being about 10 years behind on listening to them, It's pretty overwhelming to have 500 live albums to choose from and no idea what the difference is between any of them, I just have no idea what to do. I definitely like the harder/ higher energy stuff a little more, but the funky grooves are pretty damn good too when I'm in the mood.

Enough of the rambling, here's my question... If you have favorite shows by either of these guys, which ones are they and why? How did you choose them, and when you hear of a new jam band to check out where do you start?

Bonus: I've been told I'd like Umphrey's McGee as well... any more suggestions?
posted by LarrenD to Media & Arts (10 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Tea Leaf Green
posted by JohnnyGunn at 11:26 AM on June 6, 2012

Seconding Tea Leaf Green.
posted by makonan at 11:30 AM on June 6, 2012

Where you start is the Archive.org Live Music Archive. Find any band you like in their list, open up their page and look at "most downloaded items". Check out some show reviews, listen online and download the ones you like.

Also if you're into the Grateful Dead, I have to point out the Grateful Dead Listening Guide. It's a terrific way to get into the Dead. Or just listen to 9/28/75 and get on the bus.
posted by dudeman at 12:00 PM on June 6, 2012 [3 favorites]

Well, there are a couple ways to go.

You can start at the beginning and work your way forward, or you can start at the most recent stuff and work your way backward, or you can start in the golden era (classic lineup, creative peak, whatever) and move both ways from there.

Or you can find out what the best-known (most-popular, most-available, most-acclaimed, etc.) material is and then start from there, digging gradually into the more obscure stuff.

Or you can look for shows where they played a cover of that song you really like. Or for uniqueness, like that acoustic set, or that show they played with the scratch DJ or the gospel choir or Branford Marsalis.

(I'm not a giant jam-band guy, but these general patterns work for many kinds of music.)
posted by box at 3:06 PM on June 6, 2012 [2 favorites]

Also, get a trial login to Sirrius radio on line and listen to the "Jam On" channel.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 3:21 PM on June 6, 2012 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Based on your liking STS9 & Lotus, I'd also recommend The Disco Biscuits work from the past 5 years or so and The New Deal. Both are solidly in the same "jam-tronica" scene as STS9 & Lotus. Other bands/artists you might enjoy (though they lean more to the electronic jazz side of things) include Medeski, Martin & Wood (and John Medeski's solo work) and The Benvento-Russo Duo (Marco Benevento is a BIG favorite of mine).

I'm also econding both box's suggestions & Sirius/XM's Jam On channel. It helped expose me to a LOT of jam bands and their live catalogs, including the bands I listed above.

The Grateful Dead and Phish historically are the 800 lb. gorillas of the jam band scene, and I personally think you owe it yourself to explore their live show catalogues (both official releases and taper recordings) a little if for no other reason then to understand musically and culturally where the bands you like in the jam band scene draw their insipration from.
posted by KingEdRa at 6:10 PM on June 6, 2012

Jambase is handy for finding shows and stumbling onto new music.
posted by GPF at 7:33 PM on June 6, 2012

String Cheese Incident
posted by JohnnyGunn at 8:34 PM on June 6, 2012

Best answer: Ranking live shows is like the #1 pasttime of jam band fans, so I find the best thing to do is figure out where the fans hang out online and look for those sort of threads. One such place is thelowdown.org, and there are many others, but the quality of discussion varies (phantasytour is a good example of the other end of the spectrum.)

The discussions about which show is the greatest and why, and which version of a given song is the greatest and why can help to pinpoint the qualities you enjoy and the periods where those qualities were at their peak. Little bits of history and folkore and collective memories of shows get passed around and you get a better picture of the band and it's various phases.

And if you do want to check out Phish, try Summer '93 for high energy and Fall '97 for funky. I'm sure there's a hippie hiding behind a bush somewhere around here ready to dispute that though!
posted by Lorin at 9:51 PM on June 6, 2012 [1 favorite]

Quick primer on Umphrey's McGee.....

web | blog


1) Live Music Archive - audience recordings and some soundboards.
Start here
Variety Playhouse - Atlanta, GA - 2004-12-03
Fox Theatre - Boulder, CO - 2005-02-26
9:30 Club - Washington DC - 2004-12-11

2) Podcasts: curated by the band's sound engineer, features standout live tracks off the soundboard.
A few good starters:
Podcast 123 - February 2012
Podcast #44 - November 2006
Podcast #61 - November 2007 (the dub version of Pink Floyd's Breathe is just beautiful)
Podcast #69 - April 2008
...full archive.

3) UM's official live recordings archive
Soundboards of all recent shows, available for purchase

Official YouTube Channel
Skyline Pavillion - Chicago, IL - 2004-08-07
iClips - All Good Festival 2009, Summer Camp 2009

Ohmphrey - three members of Umphrey's + OHM guitarist (former Megadeth guitarist), Chris Poland, and bassist Robertino Pagliari
posted by prinado at 2:58 AM on June 7, 2012 [1 favorite]

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