Jam bands rock New York
The Jammys, what The New Yorker magazine called "The Grammys for the jamband music scene," come to DVD in "The Best of the Jammys: Volume One." Recorded live from the theater at Madison Square Garden, the show brought some of the best jam bands and artists to the stage in one-time artistic collaborations that any jam-band fan is bound to appreciate.
As featured artist Perry Ferrell said, "[The jam band] scene proves that the gathering force is the music and it really lies outside commercial media and the mass media. This scene is grassroots. ... I feel it is a real part of the youth culture, and there is a real movement attached to it."
Throughout the concert, the energy of the performers and the music is clear. Though much less easily accessible and enjoyable from a couch in one's own home that at a live show, the DVD is still a great exhibition of improvisation and the best the jam-band world has to offer.
One of the most exciting things about the set list is the collaboration between artists. Legend Buddy Guy joins with John Mayer, Phil Lesh and ?uestlove of the Roots on "(I'm Your) Hoochie Coochie Man." The Disco Biscuits pair with Travis Tritt playing what starts out as "House Dog Party Favor," morphs into "Honky Tonk History" and then reverts back to the former. Jam-band stalwarts moe. and the Blue ?yster Cult collaborated on "Don't Fear the Reaper." Peter Frampton, Guster and Martin Sexton join forces to play "Do You Feel Like We Do."
Overall, it's a jam-band lover's paradise, short of Phish and the Dead joining the show. The interviews and backstage footage on the disc invite fans to get to know the bands a little better and welcome them into the Jammys family.
North Mississippi Allstars and Kris Myers of Umphrey's McGee teamed up to perform "Psychedelic Sex Machine," which begins with just a washboard hooked up to a distortion pedal, one of the most unique performances of the concert.
Frampton's, Guster's and Sexton's performance was also quite unique as Frampton and Sexton slightly modified a dueling banjo format with Frampton playing electric guitar against Sexton's vocals, which were distorted through his microphone. The performance is one of the highlights of the set, showcasing the fun, musically innovative side of jam-band culture.
The different performances showcase the spectrum of jam-band music - a type of music that many people consider to all sound the same. The one thing that ties every artist in the show together is that, as Ryan Adams says on the DVD, "mistakes [during their performances] just open up all kinds of new doors."
The DVD, though unable to replicate the experience of going to a jam-band concert, showcases the best the genre has to offer today, and highlights the innovation and musicianship that embodies the spirit of the bands' predecessors.