I really don’t have the words yet to share my feelings on the loss of Butch Trucks. Next month, I promise. In the interim, I’d like to allow Butch to speak. Here is his intro to my Jambands book from 2003, just to give you a sense of his spirit, eloquence and above all, generosity…
Come mothers and fathers
Throughout the land
And don’t criticize
What you can’t understand
Your sons and your daughters
Are beyond your command
Your old road is
Please get out of the new one
If you can’t lend your hand
For the times they are a-changin
Bob Dylan © 1963, 1964 by Warner Bros. Inc.
Seems like the more things change the more they stay the same. The verse from Dylan comes from the very beginning of the “revolution” that my generation was going to spawn. What we did spawn was not the “revolution” that many of my peers expected but we did spawn, as do all new generations, our own “revolutions”. The “revolution” closest to me was in music. As a member of The Allman Brothers Band from its inception in 1969, I saw the music of the young go from silly little songs about teenage angst of all types to serious music about social change crafted by musicians capable of really playing their instruments. We created “true art”, rather than cute songs, using rock, pop, etc. as its base. We added elements of jazz, blues and classical music and something very intense happened. This was new. This was exciting. This took rock music from a pop song idiom aimed at preteen girls to an art form capable of creating moments bordering on religious experiences. As I said, we started in 1969. Do the math. That’s 34 years ago. We are still playing that music and I am sitting here today on February 27, 2003 two days away from the beginning of the Allman Brothers Tour 2003. I can truthfully say the feelings I get playing with the ABB now are every bit as intense as they were 34 years ago. But enough about me, let’s talk about my records. (That was a joke).
About four years ago Oteil Burbridge (bass player with the ABB) and I spent almost two weeks following the JamBands.com tour. This was my first full exposure to the new generation of bands that have picked up the torch that groups like the Allman Brothers passed along. I was blown away. I was on the tour to find bands for a record label I was starting and the level of musicianship was astounding. My first night on the tour I was introduced to a nervous little guy in baggy shorts who also blew me away. You’re about to read his book. “Dr. Dean,” as I call him, impressed me immediately with his profound love for and knowledge of the “jam band” scene.
Of course you will find that there is probably not a band out there that will admit to being a “jam band”. That doesn’t change the fact one iota that they are. We must have labels. Gregg Allman has solved his dislike of the Allman Brothers being called a “jam band” by admitting that we are a band that jams. Semantics. Let us say that what these bands share is an ability to play and a seriousness about their music that maximizes musicianship and minimizes showmanship. There’s Butch’s “definition of jam music in 15 words”. What Dr. Dean is, is the preeminent authority on these bands.
Dean Budnick recently received his Ph.D. in American History from Harvard. I’m still trying to tie this in with his love of jam music and his continuing dedication to compiling all of the information possible about this genre. I’ll let you speculate on that, if you’re of a mind to. You do not need to to benefit from this book. This is THE definitive book extant about the bands and musicians currently playing “jam music” today. You can read it cover to cover. You can use it as a reference when you want info about a band you may be interested in hearing live or buying their CD. Or you can just use it to get caught up on who’s doing what in the “jam band” scene. His essays on everyone from The Allman Brothers Band to Medeski, Martin and Wood to Vinyl, etc., etc. will give you enough insight into the nature of the music that these bands are playing to make a good guess about whether or not you’re interested. Useful, huh?
If you are a real lover of this type of music then this book is required reading. Nothing else like it exists and will not again until the “Good Doctor” writes his next one. Dr. Dean is a unique individual (did I tell you he is on the board of directors of my label, Flying Frog Records? I ain’t stupid). There is not another person around with his intelligence, knowledge and ability to communicate coupled with his deep passion for this music.
Back to my opening Dylan quote: I now find myself on the “mothers and fathers” side. I do my best to “lend my hand”. I am not gonna “get out of the new one”. I did have a part in creating it. What I find in the music being created by the new generation of players which Dean writes about in this book is the same passion for music being played with ability and intensity that I have had for over 34 years now. Dr. Dean’s gonna tell you a lot about those that are doing it, how well they are doing it and maybe even give you some insight into why. Enjoy.
Thanks again, Butch, for everything…
Later days and peace,