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Opinions on Jam Bands?

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by Tehdouglas, May 3, 2006.

  1. Tehdouglas


    Feb 10, 2006
    Hey guys, I'm just wondering what your opinions are towards playing bass in a jam band situation. I'm very much so into bands like Grateful Dead and Phish, and have been listening to them for a very long time (Phish moreso). Yeah, I still like the typical Led Zep or Rush song but theres something about this style of music that reachs out to me over others, perhaps because its a combination of many styles? The music just feels so free and interesting to play, as much of it seems to revolve around improvisation. And, again, combining many different types of music appeals to me because I'm into many different styles and I don't think I'd like always playing one.

    Anyone have any information or tips on being in a Jam Band as well? I'd really like to put one together in the future (right now I'm in a highschool thats filled with metalhead guitarists :help: ). Any input is welcome! And I realize not all people like this music so please respect others interests :bassist:
  2. bikeplate

    bikeplate Supporting Member

    Jun 7, 2001
    Upstate NY

    Do what you like. Always stay open minded, though. There are many diff types of music and you can learn alot from any one of them. Never pigeon hole yourself into one style.

    That being said, jam bands arent my thing. LOL.

    Good luck

  3. Enden


    May 1, 2006
    Philadelphia, PA
    I love jam music. You gotta get a friend who's into just jamming out on his guitarist. Be ready to improvise and just jam out. Also, in the case of Phish and the like, be ready with some interesting pop/slap lines.
  4. Tehdouglas


    Feb 10, 2006
    Thats my biggest worry! Finding other musicians who are as dedicated as I'm willing to be.

    I agree Rob, I'm definetly open to trying out new styles, I find it very interesting and fun as well.

    Oh and I can lay down some good s+p lines easy but not at a fast pace yet, need to work on it :ninja:

    Good posts!
  5. bikeplate

    bikeplate Supporting Member

    Jun 7, 2001
    Upstate NY

    Good luck with it. Be patient and find some others who are committed

  6. JimK


    Dec 12, 1999
    Jamming = good.
    Noodling = bad.

    Any early Rock band worth a crap (Santana, The Doors, Chicago, Grateful Dead, Cream, etc)...could jam.
    The audiences back then expected it.

    I guess nowadaze it's a whole sub-genre all onto itself.
  7. Linas


    Jan 6, 2005
    Used to be huge into jam band music. Toured with phish for a couple years. Playing it is not bad, but recently i find myself not enjoying what i used to about the music. I dont know, a little jam in a song is not bad, but for some reason the 30 minute jams just dont do it for me like they once did. I guess i like a little more structure in my listening and playing now.
  8. ElMon

    ElMon Supporting Member

    May 30, 2004
    Oklahoma City, OK
    The only problem I've had with Jam bands is that while they do indulge in many different styles (blues, reggae, jazz, bluegrass, or even Latin), what comes out of such an amalgamation is often not even remotely authentic to those genres. Given the choice between, say, a really hip jazz combo or a smokin Latin ensemble, versus seeing a band that halfway approaches this style or fuses it all together, I'll take the band that has dedicated their approach to that style.

    That being said, I've had some really good times seeing groups like the Yonder Mountain String Band, or Medeski Martin & Wood, who IMHO never lose their core sound in trying to approach other styles. No offense to the Phish heads out there, but IMO, there stylistic mimicing is frankly annoying. When Yonder plays a reggae section, it sounds like a bad ass 'Americana/bluegrass' band playin reggae as opposed to a half-ass rendition from a band that is predominately not reggae.

    I think that if Jam bands go out of their way to delve deeply into the styles that they try to mimic live, the end result would sound less, well JAMMY.
  9. JazzBassMayn


    Dec 10, 2005
    Oregon, OH
    I really enjoy jam bands, that my main genro that I like and have like for years. However, one thing that gets to me when I listen to Phil and Friends is when they just noodle around for sooooo long that you don't even know what song it is. Noodling is cool to transition a song for a short period, but when they do it for twenty minutes it really makes me want to put on something else. So keep it interesting and find others with the same jam/improv mind set and it's a whole lot of fun!
  10. i love a good jamband. The first thing i would do is not worry about experimenting and trying different things. Another thing is to be aware of your bandmates and what they are playing...thats important in any genre, but i think it is even more important in jambands, because if everybody starts playing their own thing, it only works a third of the time :)
    I would also say open and clear your mind. learn your scales and technique so you aren't thinking about fifths or if you should play the 7th next, just internalize your skills, so you can just play when it comes time to play...that way your music comes from the heart, instead of the brain (thats how i see it at least).
    another tip i can give while you are not in a jamband is buy a looper...what really helped me was to record a simple bassline that revolves around two or three chords, or even one, and just play. play what you feel like playing whether it sounds good or not. this is a good exercise in hearing how things sound (that sounded better in my head). and play with the loop for as long as you can think of something to play, and try to repeat the riffs that worked...thats what i can think of right now
  11. Mystic Michael

    Mystic Michael Hip No Ties

    Apr 1, 2004
    New York, NY
    I think you probably could not find a better role model for jamming than Phish - because they've approached it consciously, deliberately, and with a good deal of focus and disclipline - thus providing a proper framework and structure for all the pure spontaneity and creativity they then lay upon it. Improvisation is an art form unto itself, and many musicians - and many bands - simply don't have a good handle on it. Unfortunate, since improvisation is really a basic, core musical skill, IMHO...

    While I can agree that half-baked "genre tampering" can be annoying, there's nothing intrinsic to the improvisation process that necessitates such an approach. One of the pure joys of jamming comes when you discover music within you that has a clear, distinctive voice - but doesn't neatly fit into any pre-existing genre. That is what it's all about...

  12. Matt Till

    Matt Till

    Jun 1, 2002
    Edinboro, PA
    It's weird, the music I like is hugely jam oriented space rock stuff, but the jam band subgenre doesn't do it for me it all. I like SOME songwriting to go with my jamming.

    I'm going to quote a friend who spoke of jam bands as, "Ja**ing off on a piece of paper and jamming over it." Pretty accurate in most cases.
  13. while i agree with the style-mimicing, i don't know if i agree that phish is one of those bands that play everything without being able to keep a "phish" sound...I think that phish has a core sound...but i suppose that what makes up the "core sound" is a bit subjective...i hear music differently than you, who hears it differently than the bassist next to you...and so on...
  14. The BurgerMeister

    The BurgerMeister musician.

    Apr 13, 2006
    Big Bear, CA
    i hate listening to jam bands, usually.

    but i LOVE playing in them. it's a lot of fun to just let loose and play.

    i think there was a post about this not too long ago.

    :bassist:, y'know?
  15. Jam bands are a great way for bass players to really shine.Some bands to check out are-moe.,Wide Spread Panic,Ominous Sea Pods,String Cheese Incident,Bela Fleck,Yonder Mountain String Band,Galactic,MM&W..ect.

    These bands IMHO Jam a little better than PHISH ever did(Don't get ME wrong I have over 30 Phish shows under the belt)but,these bands get it done a without going so far over the top.I have seen Phish get it on though check out Halloween '99 in Vegas WOW,best Antelope ever!!Plus they played a whole Velvet Underground album

    As far as getting started,find a drummer You can lock in with first.This is key IMHO.If you check out Your local Uni or J/C,You may find people with more diverse taste in music as, Metal Heads "SHRED" instead of "JAM".Try to jam with some jazzheads......
  16. I'm not really into jam bands myself, but I had a student about a year ago who was very into this scene. I will say that good jam bands expect a lot of their musicians - you have to be quite proficient on your instrument, understanding theory to a point of improvisational fluency AND having the ablity to play convincingly in a number of styles and genres. The bassist I taught always seemed to me to be overwhemled by it - he was scretched pretty thin trying to keep it all together. It seemed very daunting, so just be sure to keep your goals realistic when getting into it, and keep fun and learning your main goals!

    Good luck!
  17. Tehdouglas


    Feb 10, 2006
    Thanks for all the good posts guys.
  18. mvw356


    Mar 2, 2006
    i'm not really into jam bands, i like them, but not my main interest. however, i read in an interview with steeve lukather that the outro to rosanna was basically a live jam. well, i think thats just amazing that a jam was recorded and made it onto the album of a band renowned for their 'soulless slick studio wizardy'. so toto= jam band? jams are cool i think as long as they don't turn into 'let's bash the same three chords for 30 mins' sessions.
  19. Snarf


    Jan 23, 2005
    Glen Cove, NY
    I don't really enjoy jam bands so much, but I'm in a freaking AWESOME band that could be considered kind of jazz/neo-jam. I would be bored as hell playing in a Phish or Soulive-type jam band, but my band Flo has such a rich education and experience in jazz. The piano player plays a lot of old-school jazz, but also plays a lot of funk. One of the guitar players is an amazing solo-style guitar player and has tons of funk. The other guitar player is a KILLIN' bebop player, which adds a really great aspect to jamming/soloing. The drummer is rock-solid, and very good at latin rhythms. Oh, and the keyboard player and guitar player are effing great songwriters.

    So I enjoy what I do in Flo because the musicianship is, in general, at a much higher level than a lot of other jam bands. We've only been together for 8 months so we're still getting tighter, but next year we're going to hit the road running.
  20. Mixmasta J

    Mixmasta J

    Dec 4, 2004
    I am a huge supporter of the jam band, I am in one myself as a matter of fact. Here are a few reasons why i like them soo much:

    - Everything has been borrowed from different styles, and many genres of music are represented

    - long jams. Done and done, I love dragging on 30 minute jams with guitar, bass, drum, and piano solos.

    - Sponataneous. Everything is made up on the spot, and often on only one or two chords

    - Musical interaction. everyone needs to be on the top of their game, and be listening for melodies, cues, and ways that they can fit their part with the others and enhance the overall sound.

    These reasons culminate into why I love jam bands haha

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