Tuesday, August 02, 2005

define: jamband

I must have this conversation three times a week. At work, at home, on the phone, in interviews - it inevidably comes up, and I can smell it coming from miles away. We'll be in a perfectly good conversation about music, history and the feeling one gets when they go see a band they love or discover a new act that hits them over the head. Just when things are getting good and we're starting to feel like intellectuals discussing the beauty of art, evolution and magical bliss, along comes that age old geeky word question with little meaning - "what is a jamband?"

I've spent most of my adult life both promoting and avoiding that word, and I think I've finally gotten to the point where I'm willing to move beyond it. I've been through all the illerations of meanings, from "good music" to "bands that jam", "improvisation, genre spanning, jazz, bluegrass, funk, hip-hop, electonic, rock and roll" to "it's about the fan, stupid!"

It's gotten to the point where it adds very little to the conversation and doesn't qualify things in any dignifying respect let alone description. It only serves as a mean to propogate a stereotype and package things into pseudo-understandable terms that we can all accept as being something which we understand.

But the reality is that no one understands it, because it's not a thing. It's a feeling and a connection, one you can't point to but know when you see it. It's worth flying half-way across the country for, or putting your reputation on the line to tell a friend it's good, it's satisfying and challenging, questionable and trusted, like a good friend. It ebbs and flows and moves us...and in the end, it's music!

Ever since the first caveman banged a drum to celebrate the discovery that he had arms has human kind been making music, and most of it improvisational. No one really knows what's going to happen, even when the setlist is planned and the notes are scripted - there's still variety in everything and no two shows are ever the same. This is the essence of the live music experience. All bands jam, it's just as simple as that. You're not allowed to call yourself a jamband and you're certainly not allowed to say that you're not a jamband. The choice is not yours. I'm sorry, it's not. You don't get to decide. We find you. ;)

So with that I am announcing my world-wide publicity campaign to unshackle ourselves from the term which holds us back and present an unbridaled enthusiasm for the spreading of quality life music.

"Jam is Good Music!" Good to whom?! To you! After all, music is a personal experience, and the best music in the world is the music YOU love ... so who's to say? You are!

The trick, I guess, will be organizing it, so we'll see...for now, I'll just go and jam.

Thanks...

"Don't ask what kind of music I'm gonna play tonight - just stay a while, hear for yourself awhile. And if you must put me in a box make sure it's a big box. With lots of windows, and a door to walk through, and a nice high chimney, so we can burn burn burn everything that we don't like and watch the ashes fly up to Heaven, maybe all the way to India, I'd like that..." -Dan Bern :: Jerusalem

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