Starting part two of our famous musicians and their jam sessions with a drum roll we feature even more classic jam bands and the legendary songs and concerts they performed. Ending our first foray into this theme with Cream, in this blog we venture on tour with The Grateful Dead, Allman Brothers and Phish.
The Grateful Dead
The original and the best ever Jam Band were without doubt the Grateful Dead. In their day Jerry Garcia was leading the band into a new form of playing live, whilst most rock groups played exactly the same thirty-minute set live, the Dead were rocking audiences with a two-hour set.Their concert tours changed wildly from one night to another, often performing with no play list at all. The band would simply walk on stage and begin playing, and they drew a massive cult following because of this. The legendary Jerry Garcia has now been dead for over twenty years but the band had endured with different members until 2015.
The Allman Brothers
The two Allman Brothers, Gregg and Duane, were renowned for their live performances. A listen to their live classic At Fillmore East will demonstrate this and their renditions of Mountain Jam and Whipping Post show the band performing a 100 mph Jam Session. The Allman Brothers line-up changed over the years but the annual pilgrimage to New York’s Beacon Theatre was something to hear. The band seemed to save their biggest jam of each year for when they played at The Beacon and each of the concerts goes down in rock folk-law. The Allman Brothers as a band finished in 2015 although Gregg Allman can be still found playing solo live gigs.
Of all the bands we have featured thus far, Phish are almost the definition of what a Jam Band should be. To quote Rolling Stone magazine, Phish have emerged as the premier jam band on the planet. They are probably correct as there is no longer Jerry Garcia to wear the crown. Phish have grown so big and they are so popular that they hold their own music festivals, and they are the only band on the three-day bill. They have a fanatical fan base that follow a Phish tour gig by gig, this is because every night is so different.
The band’s guitarist and driving force, Trey Anastasio was invited on the final Grateful Dead gigs in recognition of his ability to jam so well. Hardly can a better accolade have been given from the best jam band the world has ever seen. It was almost as if the baton had been passed over as one king of jam paid homage to the young prince.
Phish ends our jamming journey of witnessing the best bands that have ever played live on stage. The art of improvisation is kept alive by bands, such as Phish, and it is refreshing that new artists have the confidence to go off piste to an audience of a few thousand people. The debate will continue forever more who was the best jam band in history, and in some respects, it does really matter on musical taste. However, one thing is certain, the bands we featured will feature high up on everybody’s lists.