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Published: 2003/02/24
by Jim Stagnitti

Mainstreaming

It's gonna happen… maybe not this season, but some day one of these American Idol wannabe's is going to belt out Soulshine. Or better yet Chalkdust Torture. Sure, it's seems like a stretch right now, but every day the Jamband scene becomes more and more mainstream.

I remember the first time I saw Phish. 1992, Stowe Vermont. It was like there were two crowds. One group was grooving to the music being pumped out by the opening band. The other seemed to be sitting around, a little bored waiting for Santana to light up the night. While they waited, Carlos and the rhythm section were already on stage, jamming away with Phish.

Since then I've been laughed at, sneered at, snickered at and had countless people ask how I can listen to that mindless hippie music. And I'm a pretty successful media manager with two kids wears a suit to work everyday!

Today the scene seems more mainstream than ever. Coworkers didn't bat an eye when I told them I couldn't be interrupted while I tried to get NYE tickets. I get email from friends every day- "Phish is going to be on SNL", "turn on Good Morning America- Derek Trucks is on."

Then the big one hits. I'm sitting down on Sunday morning working on the New York Times crossword. 110 across. Popular "jamband", 5 letters. The scene has really hit the big time! Later that night, kids in bed, I'm tuning around mindless TV. There, stuck to a bulliten board in the background of Buffy the Vampire Slayer is a little oval sticker with "WP" in the middle! Today I was on the road with one of my sales reps. He flips on the radio and there's Jerry, Bella and Karl Denson. Two national satellite radio companies have embraced the jamband scene- delivering awesome music 24/7. Phish in the Times crossword. Panic on primetime. Jambands on the radio. People can laugh no more. The music I love has become is becoming mainstream.

Personally I don't have a problem with the trend. I'm not one of these people who stopped liking DMB when broader audiences discovered that the music is good. Dave puts on a hell of a show and to me that's what it's all about. There is a down side though. It's a whole lot harder to get a ticket these days. I pulled out all the stops for NYE- internet presale; 2 computers, cell phone and the desk phone for the Ticketmaster on sale; calls to record promoters, radio people, corporate clients all in vain.

While the jamband scene has always used mainstream culture like a tool covering pop songs from the Beatles to Niel Diamond, jamming at awards ceremonies with BOC and the B-52s, naming bands after sports icons of the 70's- the scene is starting to move toward the mainstream. Hey- in my mind it was bound to happen. It's great music. More people just needed to be able to open up the minds in order to hear it.

Now all we need is a reality show. "Maybe Who Wants to be a Jamband". "Joe Jamband"? "American Jamband"? You never know…..

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