JAMerica: A History of the Jam Band and Festival Scene, by Peter Conners

Title: JAMerica: A History of the Jam Band and Festival Scene

Author: Peter Connors

Publisher: Da Capo Press

Publication Date: August 27, 2013

JAMerica book

www.dacapopress.com

 BY LEE ZIMMERMAN

 A timely manuscript for certain, JAMamerica documents a phenomenon well known to a growing portion of today’s rock audience, that of the freewheeling festival. Indeed, it notes that these communal experiences trace their origins to seminal spiritual gatherings, be it 1967‘s so-called Summer of Love or its east coast counterpart, Woodstock. If that much is obvious, then so too, much of the book is as well. In fact, its author, Peter Connors, dispenses with the particulars early on, offering a literal definition of what a jam band entails (“Dedication to creating singular musical event shared by band and audience generally driven by improvisational moments”) and offering a brief description of the pros and cons of typecasting. Had the book concluded with that introductory chapter, Conners might have completed his mission, but since his purpose was twofold, to cover both the music and the events that foster the groove, additional perspective is justified.

 Conners, author of Growing Up Dead, a book in which detailed his obsession with the Grateful Dead, is obviously well qualified to take on this task, but he leaves it to the musicians involved—a diverse group that includes members of Phish, the Dead, Dave Matthews Band, Blues Traveller and many others known for their allegiance to the ethic—to share their insights on the jam band buzz. Most of what they describe is fairly rote (indeed, many of the interviews have been printed previously) but as affirmation of music’s populist bond, it’s a treat to read regardless.

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