Jam Bands - North America's Hottest Live Groups, a Book by Dean Budnick
by Lee Abraham
"The future's here, we are it, we are on our own," sings Bob Weir on "Throwing Stones," a prophetic Grateful Dead gem from the 1987 release "In the Dark." For Deadheads and groove-meisters in general, that line has never been more meaningful. Since Garcia's death in 1995 put an end to the Grateful Dead as we knew it, "jam bands" of all stripes have been finding larger and larger audiences for their highly improvisational, hippie-culture groove rock.
Concert attendance for jam bands, including a bustling summertime music and camping festival circuit, are mushrooming in popularity. Many of the "3rd generation" jam bands are being signed to major record labels. There's so much activity in what is often referred to as the "kind" scene, that a new book has been written to help make sense of all the different bands and elements of the developing genre.
"Now more than ever people are interested in this type of music," says Dean Budnick, author of "Jam Bands" and 'The Phishing Manual, a Compendium to the Music of Phish." "Particularly in the past five years there's been an explosion of bands who are really committed to improvisation." "I have a number of books on blues and jazz artists and when one of those artists come to town, someone that I've heard of but don't know anything about, I'd read up on 'em," continues Budnick. "After a while it happened more and more that I would hear of a jam band as they came through town, but had no way of finding about them. This book is something that music geeks like me can use to check out new music from bands that they may not be familiar with."
Rudy Jalio of Legends Lounge is more familiar with the jam bands than most. As the Las Vegas rep of the Home Grown Music Network, an affiliation of independent "kind" bands, and owner/operator of the only hippie bar in Las Vegas, he's all too familiar with void of information and lack of media exposure for this type of music. "A lot of our locals just aren't aware of who these great bands are," says Jalio. "The problem this genre has is that it's largely 'underground.' Because of the extended jams this type of music doesn't get a lot of airplay. So anything that helps get the word out is great. This book is a wonderful educational resource, especially in conjunction with the -Jambands.com- website."
That's right, not only has Budnick authored the definitive jam band encyclopedia, with photos, bios, discography's, and the inside scoop on each band, he's also the editor of "Jambands.com," a monthly online 'zine that's, guess what, dedicated to the jam band scene. "I'm very excited about the new website," says Budnick. "We have a team of more than fifty writers and editors from around the country that come together to create this resource. We have regular columnists and feature writers with diverse perspectives, a 'Venue of the Month' column and also feature individual bands in our 'Groove of the Month' column. We also have a photo section and another interesting column called 'Ghosts of Jam Bands Past,' as well as regional reports that include a lot of concert reviews in addition to over 200 weblinks."
The official West Coast release of -Jam Bands- will be held at Legends on Halloween. Festivities will include giveaways of -Jam Bands- as well as live music from Soul Festival and one of the premier 3rd generation jam bands, -The Ominous Seapods- from upstate New York. "It's going to be quite an event," says Jalio. "The leading proponent of the jamband scene right now is Phish, and to coordinate the release with the Phish shows makes a lot of sense."