The Charmer – Family Groove Company
In 2003, when I was still a college student, I interviewed Family Groove Company’s singer Jordan Wilkow for the University of Pittsburgh’s The Pitt News. One of the topics we discussed was his aversion to classifying FGC as a “jamband.” At the time, the genre was becoming too broad for his tastes, and he was worried that it would start to have a negative connotation. Well, that was then and this is now. If the band still has reservations about calling themselves a jamband, then I would suggest laying off of the thick, funky guitar licks, slick keyboard melodies, and musical improvisations that make their second studio release, The Charmer, jam, jam and jam some more.
Four years have gone by since the band’s debut release, Reachin’, and it’s no surprise that a lot of music was made between now and then. The Chicago quartet decided on 14 tracks for its sophomore effort. The titular track opens the album, and it sets the tone for the rest of the release. Phish, the Grateful Dead right down to the sound of Wilkow’s voice and even The Beatles are channeled. “Byron’s Got the Time” employees the keyboard atop a backdrop of groovy bass and percussion beats sans lyrics. FGC is known for live shows that last for hours and hours, thanks to the vast amount of the aforementioned musical improvisations, and it’s easy to imaging “Byron’s Got the Time” played live, stretching to 20 minutes or even more. Other gems on the album include the smooth “One Eye Dreaming,” the jazzy “Virginia Hill,” and the ever-so-funky “Ready Fire Aim.”
The jamband genre works for Family Groove Company. Perhaps, now, with a little more experience under their belts they’ve been playing together for five years they might not mind being classified as such. And really, they shouldn’t, as jamming is certainly what they do best.