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RE: [nwbluegrass] jamgrazz

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  • Mark Kramer
    I heard Nickle Creek do the Fox song on one of the late night shows sometime back. In the middle of the tune for a few seconds they stuck in what I
    Message 1 of 10 , Dec 3, 2001
      I heard Nickle Creek do the "Fox" song on one of the
      late night shows sometime back. In the middle of the
      tune for a few seconds they stuck in what I immediately
      recognized as a "Dead jam". Of course, they only had
      like a 3 minute spot so they didn't really stretch out
      but I could tell they were headed in that direction. It
      will be interesting to see if they do any of it at
      Wintergrass next year. Chris Thile's latest solo project
      made up of folks from the "Bluegrass A band" (you know
      who they are) has some free form jam sections as well.

      Mark

      -----Original Message-----
      From: joe ross [mailto:rossjoe@...]
      <snip>
      What are some other acoustic jamgrass groups that I should listen to
      before
      finalizing my opinion on the
      subject?

      Thanks

      Joe
    • Shelah Spiegel
      Mark wrote: I heard Nickle Creek do the Fox song on one of the late night shows sometime back. In the middle of the tune for a few seconds they stuck in
      Message 2 of 10 , Dec 3, 2001
        Mark wrote: I heard Nickle Creek do the "Fox" song on
        one of the late night shows sometime back. In the
        middle of the tune for a few seconds they stuck in
        what I immediately recognized as a "Dead jam". Of
        course, they only had like a 3 minute spot so they
        didn't really stretch out but I could tell they were
        headed in that direction. It will be interesting to
        see if they do any of it at Wintergrass next year.

        Well -- if it is anything like what they did at Huck
        Finn last June, it was AWESOME. They even added a
        snippet of theme to Mario Bros. in it. It was great!

        shelah


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      • Dave Campbell
        As a musician, one of the things that I found exciting about bluegrass was the ability to improvise and yet have some limits placed around it. One of the
        Message 3 of 10 , Dec 3, 2001
          As a musician, one of the things that I found exciting about bluegrass was
          the ability to improvise and yet have some limits placed around it. One of
          the reasons that I moved away from acid rock was the endless mid tune
          jamming that started to sound all the same after a bit. If you have a group
          of exceptional musicians, and Nickel Creek is probably one of the best
          improvising bands around these days, even for them, it can be very
          interesting for a while, followed by somewhat interesting and then just more
          of the same. The greater the talent, the longer it stays interesting. The
          key is for the band, who is playing for the audience, to recognize when it
          is no longer interesting for a significant number of people in the audience.

          I still prefer the boundaries. If the audience is really into what you are
          doing, take another break, but don't wear out a good thing.

          So much for my opinion and regards to all.

          -Dave
          ----- Original Message -----
          From: "joe ross" <rossjoe@...>
          To: <nwbluegrass@yahoogroups.com>
          Sent: Monday, December 03, 2001 4:49 PM
          Subject: [nwbluegrass] jamgrazz


          > Hi, I think this "jamgrass" phenomenon is quite interesting. Other people
          > call it "bluegracid jazz" with a lot of spontaneous, unrehearsed,
          extended
          > jamming during the course of a song. There's even a yahoogroup like ours
          > called "Jamgrass", and they have 775 list members! It's probably not
          > everyone's cup o' tea.
          >
          > I can see how jamgrass might be fun for the players and the audience by
          > giving musicians a chance to stretch out and the crowd a chance to hear
          > completely spontaneous music. I've heard the Grateful Dead
          > do some fantastic live jamming. At other times, they really were missing
          > something.
          >
          > I personally don't care for albums with a lot of unrehearsed jamming on
          > them. But, I can see how a concert might have a lot of spontaneous energy
          > if some great musicians step out of the realm they're
          > usually in and do some new things, experiment, with a crowd there that's
          > open-minded to and expecting this kind of extended jamming. I can
          > appreciate it, but I think that too much of it from mediocre musicians
          > could get tedious. Even tho they were short one member, I liked the set
          that
          > YMSB did at the Strawberry Festival a couple years ago (see photos in our
          > shared files section).
          >
          > Some local groups that play acoustic jamgrass include Jackstraw, Redwood
          > Highway, and Honeybucket. I think it's great that they're building a
          > following. I'm glad that YMSB is keeping things acoustic (of course they
          > use pickups). I think they've referred to their music as "drive without
          > drums".
          >
          > Jackstraw was a cover feature story in the Sept/Oct '98 issue of OBA's
          > Bluegrass Express. Nann Alleman wrote, "they look like early-day
          > Garcia/Grismanites, not spiffing up for performances and
          > seeming a bit unorganized: They rarely have a formal rehearsal..." At the
          > time, Jackstraw ranged in age from 22-34. Mandolinist David Pugh said,
          > "We're not trying to be a slick bluegrass band...We jam and
          > see what happens when we play live." Lead guitarist Jon Neufeld said,
          "The
          > good shows are the ones where the songs extend longer, where everyone has
          a
          > smile on their face the whole time and are willing to take breaks."
          David,
          > by the way, studied jazz at the Berklee School of Music and is also a
          member
          > of the old-timey band, Pig Iron.
          >
          > Correct me if I'm wrong, but I've heard that some other current groups
          that
          > inlcude jamming in their grass are currently Pete Wernick & Live Five,
          The
          > Tony Furtado Band, Laughing Hands, Butterhead, The Bluegrassholes, Ty
          > Burhoe & Friends, The Floodplain Gang, Runaway Truck Ramp. New Country
          > Kitchen is an Italian jamgrass group. Some are more acoustic than others.
          > Leftover Salmon and String Cheese Incident do a fair amount of
          spontaneous
          > jamming, but they're electric too.
          >
          > What are some other acoustic jamgrass groups that I should listen to
          before
          > finalizing my opinion on the
          > subject?
          >
          > Thanks
          >
          > Joe
          >
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          >
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          >
          >
        • The Martins
          God, I love being in the minority! (Does that mean I m minor?) I liked the Grateful Dead a lot, but was always relieved when their extended break ended and
          Message 4 of 10 , Dec 3, 2001
            God, I love being in the minority! (Does that mean I'm minor?) I liked the
            Grateful Dead a lot, but was always relieved when their extended break ended
            and they got back to playing interesting music. Same with GrisDawg,
            wonderful musician but mediocre jazzman. Whether it be yon rocknroll or ye
            bluegrass, that extended jazz type break is just an ego trip, and unless
            your ego is mighty interesting, well... Bluegrass and oldtime fiddling are
            improvisational by nature anyhowz, so its natural that musicians will push
            it, but you have to be one fantastic all-around musician to straddle that
            hairline between exciting and boring when self-indulging in a flight of
            fancy extended break.

            Bill Martin
          • Mark Kramer
            Before retiring from being a professional musician and getting a day job, I played countless jazz gigs. Believe me, 95% of the time me and my cohorts were
            Message 5 of 10 , Dec 4, 2001
              Before "retiring" from being a professional musician
              and getting a day job, I played countless jazz gigs.
              Believe me, 95% of the time me and my cohorts were doing
              what Bill describes - practicing or (fishing for sounds)
              at the expense of the audience. (I hated playing with
              people who would take chorus after chorus. Many times
              I would just quit listening and try to concentrate enough
              not to loose the changes.)

              I went to about 10 Grateful Dead shows between 1973 and 1989.
              Plus I heard the Jerry Garcia band several times. Sometimes
              they were on and transcendent - other times they weren't.
              If you can catch a show where the moon, planets, and stars align and
              and all the egos drop away then the music can play the band.
              That doesn't happen very often.

              I agree with Bill - keep the flights of fancy short unless
              everyone can "feel the love" and be moved to another level
              of consciousness.

              Sure glad I finally got a day job and found bluegrass. I'm
              totally amazed at how difficult this harmonically simple music
              is to 'get' and play well. Not to mention the level of virtuosity
              that good BG players possess.

              Mark

              -----Original Message-----
              From: The Martins

              God, I love being in the minority! (Does that mean I'm minor?) I liked
              the Grateful Dead a lot, but was always relieved when their extended
              break ended and they got back to playing interesting music. Same with
              GrisDawg, wonderful musician but mediocre jazzman. Whether it be yon
              rocknroll or ye bluegrass, that extended jazz type break is just an ego
              trip, and unless your ego is mighty interesting, well... Bluegrass and
              oldtime fiddling are improvisational by nature anyhowz, so its natural
              that musicians will push it, but you have to be one fantastic all-around
              musician to straddle that hairline between exciting and boring when
              self-indulging in a flight of fancy extended break.

              Bill Martin
            • Jon Norling
              I think the roots of jamgrass can be traced to Peter Rowan, and the songs he wrote & played with Muleskinner and Old and in the way; although his songs had a
              Message 6 of 10 , Dec 4, 2001
                I think the roots of "jamgrass" can be traced to Peter Rowan, and the
                songs he wrote & played with Muleskinner and Old and in the way;
                although his songs had a (somewhat) traditional structure, they often
                included an extended jam on two chords (think "Land of the Navajo")
                over which the musicians took extended solos.

                The David Grisman Quintet improved the genre, playing jazzier
                progressions with improvised solos, although the studio versions no
                doubt were recorded as tracks. The Tony Rice Unit also can be
                considered "Jamgrass" especially on albums like Backwaters.
                Following in this tradition were Bela with Drive and Sam Bush.

                Today, jamgrass is supported by a host of Boulder CO bands, including
                Leftover Salmon, String Cheese & Yonder Mtn. I think most jamgrass
                afficinados would point to Grisman as the leader of the movement, due
                to the fact that he is continuing the style (unlike Rowan) and is
                known amongst deadheads via his work with Garcia.
              • mandoconnie
                Interesting thoughts about jamgrass... as a novice picker, I am amazed at the talent of those great pickers, but it only holds my interest for so long before
                Message 7 of 10 , Dec 6, 2001
                  Interesting thoughts about jamgrass... as a novice picker, I am
                  amazed at the talent of those great pickers, but it only holds my
                  interest for so long before it starts to sound the same from song to
                  song, and I'm wishing someone would sing. I think that's why vocals
                  play such a crucial role in the success of any group. Humans want to
                  hear story--the frills of runs and jams play a role, but when they
                  dominate people forget what the story was about. FWIW, Connie

                  --- In nwbluegrass@y..., "Mark Kramer" <markkra@m...> wrote:
                  > Before "retiring" from being a professional musician
                  > and getting a day job, I played countless jazz gigs.
                  > Believe me, 95% of the time me and my cohorts were doing
                  > what Bill describes - practicing or (fishing for sounds)
                  > at the expense of the audience. (I hated playing with
                  > people who would take chorus after chorus. Many times
                  > I would just quit listening and try to concentrate enough
                  > not to loose the changes.)
                  >
                  > I went to about 10 Grateful Dead shows between 1973 and 1989.
                  > Plus I heard the Jerry Garcia band several times. Sometimes
                  > they were on and transcendent - other times they weren't.
                  > If you can catch a show where the moon, planets, and stars align and
                  > and all the egos drop away then the music can play the band.
                  > That doesn't happen very often.
                  >
                  > I agree with Bill - keep the flights of fancy short unless
                  > everyone can "feel the love" and be moved to another level
                  > of consciousness.
                  >
                  > Sure glad I finally got a day job and found bluegrass. I'm
                  > totally amazed at how difficult this harmonically simple music
                  > is to 'get' and play well. Not to mention the level of virtuosity
                  > that good BG players possess.
                  >
                  > Mark
                  >
                  > -----Original Message-----
                  > From: The Martins
                  >
                  > God, I love being in the minority! (Does that mean I'm minor?) I
                  liked
                  > the Grateful Dead a lot, but was always relieved when their extended
                  > break ended and they got back to playing interesting music. Same
                  with
                  > GrisDawg, wonderful musician but mediocre jazzman. Whether it be yon
                  > rocknroll or ye bluegrass, that extended jazz type break is just an
                  ego
                  > trip, and unless your ego is mighty interesting, well... Bluegrass
                  and
                  > oldtime fiddling are improvisational by nature anyhowz, so its
                  natural
                  > that musicians will push it, but you have to be one fantastic all-
                  around
                  > musician to straddle that hairline between exciting and boring when
                  > self-indulging in a flight of fancy extended break.
                  >
                  > Bill Martin
                • Mark Kramer
                  So true. I think the average person needs vocals and thinks instrumentals are rather uninteresting filler. I had a jazz group for awhile that had the best of
                  Message 8 of 10 , Dec 6, 2001
                    So true. I think the average person needs vocals and thinks
                    "instrumentals" are rather uninteresting filler.

                    I had a jazz group for awhile that had the best of the best
                    jazz players in the Santa Barbara area. We played every Wed
                    night at a club in town. We would attract snooty jazz aficionados
                    who would come and sip a mineral water all night plus other
                    jazz musicians and jazz students. No vocals. We were eventually
                    replaced (after 1.5 years) by a rockin' blues band who would
                    pack the place with a heavy beer and whiskey drinkin' crowd.

                    After that experience, it finally dawned on me that I had been
                    living with my head in the music stand. I focused on nothing but
                    music, music theory, teaching music theory and giving guitar
                    lessons for endless years. After finally getting to the place
                    where I could play with the best musicians in town, I realized
                    it didn't matter. My job playing in clubs was really "liquor
                    salesman".

                    It was at that point that I started studying computers and
                    computer science and gave up making music for a living. With
                    Bluegrass, I'm finding plenty of musical challenge plus learning
                    to sing! One of the things I really enjoy about it is that it
                    includes everyone of all levels. If you can play 3 chords you
                    can start in and join the fun. It's the music of the people
                    really.

                    Mark

                    PS. Plus I don't have to wear a tux and play "Girl From Ipanema"
                    anymore.

                    -----Original Message-----
                    From: mandoconnie

                    Interesting thoughts about jamgrass... as a novice picker, I am
                    amazed at the talent of those great pickers, but it only holds my
                    interest for so long before it starts to sound the same from song to
                    song, and I'm wishing someone would sing. I think that's why vocals
                    play such a crucial role in the success of any group. Humans want to
                    hear story--the frills of runs and jams play a role, but when they
                    dominate people forget what the story was about. FWIW, Connie
                  • Kim Neill
                    OK, this is rather windy, but I guess I ll throw in my pennies worth. I love good vocals and catchy lyrics more than a good jam anyday. Absolutely agree with
                    Message 9 of 10 , Dec 6, 2001
                      OK, this is rather windy, but I guess I'll throw in my pennies worth. I
                      love good vocals and catchy lyrics more than a good jam anyday. Absolutely
                      agree with the need for there to be a story. It's something for the audience
                      to relate to, and it also tugs at some emotional string that helps them
                      remember the song through the story.

                      As your "ear from Boulder" I'd have to say that some of the
                      jamgrazz/jazzgrass types of bands being discussed here lately do absolutely
                      nothing for me. There are several bands around here, some still local &
                      some you've heard of (NOT Yonder or Leftover Salmon) who seem to think that
                      just because they're having fun jamming, (which to them is simply a looser,
                      extended pick) they're making valid music and/or you're having fun
                      listening. One in particular had no vocals at all, the other (national act)
                      had only mediocre songwriting and vocals. But "boy, they sure can jam"
                      They are excellent musicians, individually. So the jams are hot, technique
                      is impressive, but quickly boring for me. Didn't seem to be cohesive. The
                      former is learning to sing, finally catching on. The latter has long-time
                      friends who can't figure out why they're so popular! They all admit the
                      band is not that good, but that folks sure have fun at shows! I cynically
                      recall how much of the audience's appreciation, even back at Dead shows, was
                      drug induced.

                      The reason I like Single Malt Band is that their music is strictly song
                      based. They do not jam in every song -- in fact, some of their originals
                      are only 3 minutes long. Their vocals (3-part harmony) are central to all
                      except the Celtic jigs & reels which, as instrumentals, are often woven into
                      a seamless series of songs and they jam within the medley. They'll begin
                      with a strong story-based song and tell the story through the vocals as well
                      as through the other songs which are brought into the medley. Then they end
                      by finishing the song they began with, telling the ending of the story. The
                      seques are certainly rehearsed. The harmonies are tight. The original
                      lyrics are clever. I would say the exact same of Yonder. While they may
                      improvise their indiviiidual solos which together create the jam, they
                      absolutely plan and rehearse the seques and exactly how their solos will fit
                      together. You bet they rehearse. Like maniacs. Enough that they can read
                      each other and, when it's really working (which happens alot with Yonder Mt,
                      eg., at a sold-out Fillmore show in San Francisco where _everyone_ is
                      dancing) they might extend it a bit more or add to or change their plan
                      spontaneously, improving each performance through improvisation.
                      You'll not hear the same set twice. And even Yonder does tight short songs
                      with no jams. Some of my most entertaining moments at these Yonder and
                      Single Malt shows are when I marvel at their clever set lists, and how they
                      put these medleys together (eg. how did they think of THAT one!!)

                      Anyway, I do agree that there are alot of mediocre jambands out there, bands
                      who jam but don't really play music. I do not think Yonder Mt String Band
                      is one of them, nor is Single Malt Band.
                      kim

                      ----- Original Message -----
                      From: Mark Kramer <markkra@...>
                      To: <nwbluegrass@yahoogroups.com>
                      Sent: Thursday, December 06, 2001 8:34 AM
                      Subject: RE: [nwbluegrass] Re: jamgrazz


                      > So true. I think the average person needs vocals and thinks
                      > "instrumentals" are rather uninteresting filler.
                      >
                      > I had a jazz group for awhile that had the best of the best
                      > jazz players in the Santa Barbara area. We played every Wed
                      > night at a club in town. We would attract snooty jazz aficionados
                      > who would come and sip a mineral water all night plus other
                      > jazz musicians and jazz students. No vocals. We were eventually
                      > replaced (after 1.5 years) by a rockin' blues band who would
                      > pack the place with a heavy beer and whiskey drinkin' crowd.
                      >
                      > After that experience, it finally dawned on me that I had been
                      > living with my head in the music stand. I focused on nothing but
                      > music, music theory, teaching music theory and giving guitar
                      > lessons for endless years. After finally getting to the place
                      > where I could play with the best musicians in town, I realized
                      > it didn't matter. My job playing in clubs was really "liquor
                      > salesman".
                      >
                      > It was at that point that I started studying computers and
                      > computer science and gave up making music for a living. With
                      > Bluegrass, I'm finding plenty of musical challenge plus learning
                      > to sing! One of the things I really enjoy about it is that it
                      > includes everyone of all levels. If you can play 3 chords you
                      > can start in and join the fun. It's the music of the people
                      > really.
                      >
                      > Mark
                      >
                      > PS. Plus I don't have to wear a tux and play "Girl From Ipanema"
                      > anymore.
                      >
                      > -----Original Message-----
                      > From: mandoconnie
                      >
                      > Interesting thoughts about jamgrass... as a novice picker, I am
                      > amazed at the talent of those great pickers, but it only holds my
                      > interest for so long before it starts to sound the same from song to
                      > song, and I'm wishing someone would sing. I think that's why vocals
                      > play such a crucial role in the success of any group. Humans want to
                      > hear story--the frills of runs and jams play a role, but when they
                      > dominate people forget what the story was about. FWIW, Connie
                      >
                      >
                      > To unsubscribe from this group, send an email to:
                      > nwbluegrass-unsubscribe@yahoogroups.com
                      >
                      >
                      >
                      > Your use of Yahoo! Groups is subject to http://docs.yahoo.com/info/terms/
                      >
                      >
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