Do You Feel Like We Do: A Recap of the Sixth Annual Jammy Awards
The sixth annual Jammy Awards came to a close last night with an extended power jam based around Bob Marleys One Love. Anchored by Little Feat, the all-star ensemble featured a number of performers, including ceremony co-hosts Mickey Hart and Bill Kreutzmann, Stephen Marley, Ky-Mani Marley, Peter Frampton, DJ Logic, Joe Satriani, Hubert Sumlin, Consequence, Charlie Musselwhite and Bela Fleck, among others. In total, over 30 artists performed during the five-hour event, officially kicking off the first annual Green Apple Music Festival.
As in years past, this years Jammy Awards rested on a number of high-profile collaborations, including several onetime artist pairings. Recalling his show-opening performance at Woodstock, Richie Havens kicked off the evenings festivities with an anthemic version of his signature Freedom, backed by Burning Man-inspired collective the Mutaytor. After Havens slipped offstage, the Mutaytor presented its unique performance art, which includes flame throwers and odd-time dancers. Original Wetlands denizens Blues Traveler paid tribute to the New York venue which laid the groundwork for both the Jammys and Green Apple (Jammys Executive Producer Pete Shapiro owned the club in its final years and Producer Dean Budnick recently directed a documentary on the club, Wetlands Preserved), performing its NY Prophesie with fellow club staples DJ Logic. Bettye LaVette—the original diva—helped the veteran jamband through a cover of Steppenwolfs Magic Carpet Ride at the end of its set.
While the Jammys has featured legends from a number of genres, ranging from bluegrass (Del McCoury) to blues (Buddy Guy) to punk (Marky Ramone), this years festivities focused on the guitar and its six-stringed heroes. After Blues Travelers performance, axe-shredder Joe Satriani sparred with psychedelic guitar hero Steve Kimock, Janes Addiction drummer Stephen Perkins, horn player Willy Waldman, Jacob Fred Jazz Odyssey bassist Reed Mathis and New Groove winner Grace Potter serving as the duos backing band. A set highlight: an on-point, original reading of Neil Youngs Cortez the Killer. A mid-show highlight, Peter Frampton enhanced Guster on material from its forthcoming Ganging up the Sun, before Martin Sexton joined the performers for a talk box-laced version of Framptons Do You Feel Like We Do. A virtuoso in his own right, banjoist Bela Fleck brought his Flecktones to the Theater at Madison Square Garden for its first Jammys appearance, performing alongside jazz legend McCoy Tyner and iconic tap dancer Savion Glover.
Accepting the lifetime achievement award on behalf on his father, Frank Zappa, Dweezil Zappa debuted his Zappa Plays Zappa project for a sprawling New York audience. Fronting an ensemble which features a mixture of former Frank Zappa sidemen and assorted ace musicians, the younger Zappa drew from his fathers canon, including Inca Roads. A hero of many in attendance, Frank Zappa helped lay the groundwork for the modern jamband scene; both Mickey Hart and Chick Corea paid tribute to Zappa as his son prepared for a more sonic-based tribute. Looking like a young version of his father, Dweezil took the stage next to longtime Zappa band vocalist Napoleon Murphy Brock, later inviting out longtime Zappa freaks Chick Corea and Umphreys McGees Jake Cinninger for well-received solos.
In only its second Jammys appearance, moe. seemed to embody the award ceremony’s organic roots and collaborative spirit. Performing with Mad Professor, moe.s setlist included a choice cover of the Clashs Guns of Brixton, as well as its own Buster. Similarly, ceremony co-hosts Hart and Bill Kreutzmann represented the original jamband generation, hosting a percussion-heavy improvisation of their own. By Iko Iko, the Rhythm Devils weaved in a ministry of musicians, including Mike Gordon, Steve Kimock, Steven Perkins, Charlie Musslewhite, The Mutaytor, Baaba Maal, Angelique Kidjo and Bettye LaVette, who sprinted onstage to make the jam session.
A community gathering more than anything, the Jammys evolution has paralleled the growth of the increasingly broad jamband genre. Jack Johnson accepted the first annual Green Apple Award via video screen from Hawaii, where he is currently performing at the Kokua Festival. Political activist Cindy Sheehan showed her support for Green Apples forward-thinking cause, while the Sudanese ex-basketball player Manute Bol presented the first annual Global Rhythm World Music Award to Baaba Maal alongside Jammys Co-Executive Producer Steve Bernstein. Drummer Todd Nance also phoned in Widespread Panics acceptance speech for Live Album of the Year.
The Green Apple Music and Arts Festival continues today at over 35 venues throughout New York.