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Published: 2007/01/23
by Andrew Evans

Letter to the EditorCurrent State of Affairs or Clash of (sub)cultures Take Your Pick

I would like to respond to your request for a person willing to submit to your website by throwing in a little rant of my own, and I am not talking politics as the title might insinuate. I am instead talking about the current state of music in America (as I see it, at least). I am not really sure what lead me to this topic probably a few recent observations or instances, and also in response to the whole post-jam argument that was included in the post from Mr. Budnick.

I have recently come across several instances of distinct separation of groups or subcultures within the alternative musical world. Alternative might not be the right word, non-mainstream is more fitting—I don’t want to offend anyone who champions the Alternative music scene. But that bring me right to the point. Why, by using a term Alternative, or Jam, or even Post-Jam, am I automatically talking about a certain sect? I know it is a way for us all to categorize & define what we hear, and also a way for the music industry to market that music to the public, but in the process we are segregating ourselves from each other. In the end, good music is good music, even if your songs do not last for 30 minutes.

It is obvious that not everyone has the same musical tastes, and it is this reason that groups will form naturally, that enjoy a certain band, or certain style of music. This is the most natural occurrence we can find in humanity. Birds of a feather, right? What amazes me is not that people will follow what they like, but that in doing so, they also seem to attempt to belittle others that don’t follow suit. This is done, I assume, to prop themselves up into being part of the new “it” thing.

Whether it be the Jam vs. Alt. Scene arguments that have arisen regarding major music festivals, or the “headier than thou” attitude I have come across when discussing the music of so-called Jam Titans (Dead, Phish, WSP, SCI etc..) with others, this segregation has, in my opinion, been part of the dark side of the Jamband scene. One type of music may not “do it” for you, but how is it so difficult to see that it might “do it” for someone else, and that is OK. I also recently heard criticism of a band for having other bands on a bill for New Year’s Eve that attracted a “different” type of crowd. I understand wanting to be with a close group of friends, and with your group of fans, but to criticize the others for not being part of your comfort zone, defies what I think the music we listened to promotes. One of the most positive aspects of our “scene” was the patchwork of styles and sounds, and the diversity it brings: A melting pot if you will, a microcosm of America itself. Maybe if we just call them “Good”bands, or “head-friendly”bands, we would overcome this segregation, hell we might even be able to overcome the mainstream top-40 establishment and become the new mainstream. (God knows we need it). Maybe so, maybe not. Maybe people will always want to promote their own cause, even if it takes sacrificing another’s. I think the whole purpose of Jambands is to inform the public about certain groups or events that occur within our Non-mainstream musical world, to tell us folks about music that makes us feel good. And this inadvertently creates a common bond between like-minded folks, and also creates a connection between two different open-minded groups. Funny, that also happens to be the beauty of music.

Thanks for letting me get that off my chest.

Andrew Evans
Huntington Beach, CA

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