Thread: Jam Bands
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Old 12-09-2012, 08:19 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Jam Bands

Never seen a thread dedicated to jam bands in specific, so I thought I'd start one.

First of all, there is a lot of controversy as to what really defines a jam band. So, let's try to settle that.

Is a jam band simply a band that puts emphasis on improvisation during their live performances? I think that's part of what makes a jam band. I've been to a few music festivals in my day and have seen a lot of concerts and there's no doubt that a lot of bands play their music just like they do on the albums, but then there are the bands who change things up and do a lot of extended improvisation. But can all bands who improvise be considered jam bands? I don't think so. If that were the case then bands from nearly any genre could be considered jam bands.

This is how wikipedia defines jam bands:

Jam bands are musical groups whose albums and live performances relate to a fan culture that originated with the 1960s groups such as the Grateful Dead and The Allman Brothers Band. This jam band environment continued in the 1990s with bands like Phish.[1] The performances of these bands often feature extended musical improvisation ("jams") over rhythmic grooves and chord patterns and long sets of music that cross genre boundaries

I think that's a fairly accurate description. Not just Any band who plays long improvised songs can be considered a jam band. If that were the case then I'd say jazz would be the primary genre of the jam band scene, rather than rock n roll (although a lot of those rock bands do incorporate a little jazz). Like I said previously, I think it's more of a cultural thing that started with bands like The Dead and The Allman Brothers and has continued with similar bands like phish.

However, I think the best conclusion to draw would be that the term is pretty pointless. Just another label to thrown around.

What do you guys think?
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