An Ode to Jam Bands- High Sierra Music Festival

Photo by Jay Blakesberg

A Love Letter to High Sierra Music Festival

Before I begin my ode to Jam bands, we need to discuss the history of ‘Jam’.  Jam bands are defined as musical groups whose live albums and concerts bring together a unique and loving fan group that started in the 1960’s with The Grateful Dead.  Performances by Jam bands typically feature extended musical improvisations over rhythmic grooves and long sets of music that can often cross genre boundaries.  Some people might disagree and say that Jam started before the Dead, but one thing we can all agree upon is that Jam bands took off after the 1960’s.

Flash forward to today- Jam bands are alive and well, but with the times the rhythms have changed ever so slightly.  More and more bands are infusing electronic, blues rock, acid jazz, hip-hop, and more into their musical experiences.   The electronic trend has been taken by storm by Sound Tribe Sector 9 (STS9), who has lead the way for close to 20 years.

Enough about the history of our beloved Jam Bands and now time for my love letter-

High Sierra Music Festival,

Thank you!  Thank you for providing a space to allow us to experience the best of the best.  Your festival focuses on bringing Jam bands to the forefront of the music scene and we appreciate that.  More and more music festivals are focusing on the EDM/ electronic scene and it is becoming harder and harder to see all our beloved jam bands in one place.

So, you might be thinking why are Jam Bands so important?  Well, let me explain to you why I personally love them.  First off, I can’t help but smile anytime I hear their music.  My personal favorite band is STS9 and every time I see them perform I feel as if my spirits are lifted and I can walk through life a little easier.

For the last decade, I’ve been lucky enough to follow STS9’s journey through time, music, and an endless evolution.  STS9 continues to expose audiences to a new kind of dance music, with an esoteric new age ambiance. This band is not solely about the music, but it’s more of a movement that they themselves have been pioneering for the last two decades!  The real beauty of an STS9 show, and really any Jam Band show, is that you NEVER really know what they might play, or how they will play it. It’s truly about the subtleties, transitions, and emotion behind every note.

STS9 weaves their past, present, and future through their music. They have the ability to instantly draw you in, make you move, feel part of one of the most special communities in music. Fans often clock over 15 shows a year, and are still always left craving more! I should know… I’ve been hooked for 10 years.

Finally, I need to mention the longevity of this Band at High Sierra-  they have performed High Sierra Music Festival in 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2012, 2014, and 2017.  Every time they perform at High Sierra, it’s as if they are playing for their hometown mountain family.

What about the other bands that performed at High Sierra?  GREAT QUESTION!!! Every single one of the bands has their own reputation and legacy that they held up to.  Galactic is a funk/ jazz band hailing from New Orleans.  I’ve been lucky enough to follow Galactic’s music since their Ya Ka May days in 2010 –and they brought down the house at High Sierra.

This music festival is unlike any other festival for the simple fact that you can experience every form of Jam Bands this country has to offer— and this was the NOLA experience!

Last, but definitely not least- I need to mention Trey Anastasio Band and Ween.  Really, there is nothing to say about these two MASSIVE acts besides you just need to listen to fully enjoy everything they have to offer.  So, ENJOY!

So this happened…

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