MY 10 BEST JAMS OF 2011 (NO GUESTS)
1) moe.: “Silver Sun”
5/29/11 Summercamp; Chillicothe, IL
When they debuted this song at their rescheduled Halloween show last December, I could not wait to see where they would take it in the future. This song takes moe.’s rock and roll edge and blends it with a jam reminiscent of Pink Floyd’s “Echoes.” On top of that the lighting rig they use at Summercamp intensified the spaced out aura of the song. I really hope they start putting this into their rotation more in 2012, it has the potential to be their next heavy hitter.
2) Tedeschi Trucks Band: “Bound For Glory”
10/29/11 Klein Auditorium; Bridgeport, CT
You can read about this whole show if you want to know more about this phenomenal new project, the review was my first write up for the site. This track is possibly the most well known from their debut album Revelator and the jam during this song pulled out all the stops this 11-piece band has to offer. At one point in the middle of the track before the final chorus I was certain they had gone into an instrumental song. While not surprised when they dropped back into the main chords of the song, I was indeed impressed.
3) String Cheese Incident: “Colorado Bluebird Sky”> “Rollover”> “Colorado Bluebird Sky”
12/3/11 United Palace Theatre; New York, NY
This was one of the best demonstrations during this run of SCI’s “roots running deep” in their music. Though their sound has evolved some over the years, they can still throw down hard with the bluegrass. “Colorado Bluebird” is just that and they transitioned it beautifully in and out of “Rollover.” All sorts of good stuff in this segue that captures many of the joyful sounds this band has to offer.
4) moe.: “Puebla”> “Brent Black”
11/26/11 Terminal 5; New York, NY
This whole show brought the heat concluding their 2-night run in New York for Thanksgiving weekend. You can check out my write up of the first night in my reviews. This show though was definitely one of my favorite moe. shows of the year. This segue fused newer jam vehicle “Puebla” with one of my favorites by them, “Brent Black.” I had been hoping to hear “Brent Black” for quite some time now and when Rob started in on that bass line I nearly lost it. Great jam on “Puebla,” great transition, and awesome near 25-minute take on “Brent Black.”
5) Furthur: “China Cat Sunflower”> “I Know You Rider”> “King Solomon’s Marbles”
3/5/11 Orpheum Theatre; Boston, MA
The “China/ Rider” segue is a favorite of mine to begin with, such a classic Dead staple with great energy all around. The band really breaks it down at about the 6-minute mark in “Rider,” and the lead guitar and keys are building on each other wonderfully. That topped with powerhouse Joe Russo laying it down in the background with enough prominence to create the sound of the two drummers that the Dead generally have gave even more energy to this jam. To top it off with the Blues for Allahinstrumental “King Solomon’s Marbles” accenting further the skills of Joe Russo, was pure bliss. The whole tour opening run at the Orpheum was outstanding and set the tone for in my opinion their best sounding tour to date.
6) Widespread Panic: “Surprise Valley”> “Low Spark Of High Heeled Boys”> “Surprise Valley”
4/14/11 Wanee Festival; Live Oak, FL
This jam was so good mainly because of the cover of Traffic’s “Low Spark of High Heeled Boys.” Sandwiched between Panic’s own “Surprise Valley” this jam was off the hook. For a band that’s been touring hard on the road for 25 years, they never skip a beat. These vets are some of the tightest sounding players on the circuit. The definitive moment came halfway through “Low Spark” when they broke into a seamless drum solo. Panic’s drum solos really get me going because drummer Todd Nance and percussionist Sunny Ortiz are in such great rhythm with one another. I find that a percussionist can really create the uniqueness in sound when it comes to jam-bands (i.e. moe.’s Jim Loughlin, Mickey Hart, and Sunny). Sunny is one of the best and while his instrumentals define the background of their playing, they stand out in the forefront of the music for me.
7) Tea Leaf Green: “Nothing Changes”> “Sex In The 70’s”
2/12/11 Highline Ballroom; New York, NY
Tea Leaf is one of the best bands on the scene that few people know enough about. They are so underrated so next time they are in your area check them out. Since adding former Jacob Fred Jazz Odyssey bassist Reed Mathis and second drummer Cochrane McMillan their sound has really progressed and they have hit a new stride in their jams. This segue from the slower almost ballad “Nothing Changes” into rocker “Sex in the 70’s” really captured me. Guitarist Josh Clark took the reigns during the latter and for those of you who do not know about him, he has potential to be the next Trey. These may sound like bold words, but check it out for yourself, you will be taken back at the fact that they are still playing small clubs.
8) Umphrey’s McGee: “Cemetery Walk”> “Jimmy Stewart”> “Cemetery Walk”
1/31/11 Brooklyn Bowl; Brooklyn, NY
When we were at the sold out show Umphrey’s played 3 nights prior at the Best Buy Theatre, they announced this last minute gig at the Bowl. We got tickets the minute they went on sale as we were travelling down to their next show in Philly. Though the venue was 21+, I had to find a way to get in. So I borrowed a buddy of mine’s ID and headed to the show. They gave me no hassle what so ever it was time to catch another rocking show from these guys. This jam was the highlight of the three shows I saw that run from them and ultimately was the highlight of the ten shows I saw them play in 2011. These guys have talent and don’t be surprised if they sell out both nights at the Best Buy Theatre later on this January.
9) Furthur: “Viola Lee Blues” v.1> “Bertha”> “Viola Lee Blues” v.2> “Caution (Don’t Step On The Tracks)”> “Viola Lee Blues” v.3
11/12/11 Boardwalk Hall, Atlantic City, NJ
“Viola Lee” is such a great jam on its own that when you make a triple decker sandwich out of it you could not ask the boys for more in a night. The transition from verse 1 into “Bertha” showed off some serious work on the keys from Jeff Chimenti, who in my opinion is the most overlooked member of the band. He is truly part of a standard of great keyboardist the Grateful Dead’s music holds up (i.e. Keith Godchaux, Brent Mydland, Bruce Hornsby, ect.). This whole show was great but this part of the second set had me and my buddy Andy looking at each other with that feeling that can only be described as “WHOA!” with smiles ear to ear and eyes wide.
10) Soulive: “Come Together”> “Something”> “I Want You (She’s So Heavy)” 8/13/11 Royal Family Affair; Bondville, VT
Last but certainly not least, this collection of instrumental takes on Abbey Road favorites really capped off their headlining performance at their Record Label The Royal Family’s inaugural festival. Such an intimate weekend, with a small, but loyal crowd of fans up on Stratton Mountain, we were treated to some of the greatest acid-jazz funk out there. When they broke into this first track it was on. The band recorded a collection of instrumental takes on Beatles classics for their 2010 release,Rubber Soulive. I have never seen people get down so hard to the Beatles then when you take their music and put this kind of spin on it. I hope they continue the tradition of the Royal Family Affair this coming summer but until then check these guys out at third annual their Brooklyn Bowl residency in late February/ March dubbed “Bowlive.”