Jam In The Dam 2012 Diary: Day Three

Another journal entry from European jam fan Josh Bogen in Amsterdam…

Jam In The Dam 2012: moe., Mike Gordon, Lotus, Keller Williams and Dark Star Orchestra

Friday, March 16

Needless to say, we woke up late on the morning of the final day of Jam In The Dam. At breakfast and throughout the afternoon, I was on the lookout for another good omen, but none showed itself. However, at this point, there was little to worry about. Every band was already putting on stellar performances each night, so this evening would almost be a bonus.

[All Photos by Jon Derow]

As planned, we arrived early for Mike Gordon’s opening set and we were able to get right up to the stage, where we stayed for the entire show. In terms of actually hearing the music, it probably wasn’ t he best place to be (as opposed to the sweet spot 10 rows back), but you got a great close up view of what’s going on, as well as getting the music straight from the amps on stage. As a percussion and drum fan, this worked out really well for me, as you could hear a lot of the percussion accents that get lost sometimes in the mix, especially when you have a bassist like Mike Gordon laying out some pretty heavy stuff.

Actually, one of the great things about this year’s lineup has been that every band has a drummer and a percussionist, except for DSO which has either one or two drummers depending on the set, and Keller who plays drums, percussion, bass and everything else during his sets.

Before starting, Mike pulled out his little Kaosillator toy, a wireless variable frequency oscillator, which he uses to make weird noises during the intro to different songs (Keller has one too). Tonight, however, he actually handed it to some one in the audience. The show was not at all what I expected, after the previous evening. Instead it was a lot slower and funkier, with even some hard blues thrown in. Most notable were covers of Beck’s Black Tambourine and the debut cover of Greyboy Allstars’ Toys R Us. Then, Mike then told a little story about walking down Newbury Street in Boston with Scott Murawski when they were first forming the band and throwing out ideas of what they wanted to do, as they were still in the “R & D” stage, but among them was bringing the band over to Europe, and then thanked the crowd and the other bands for making that fantasy come true.

From story time, they launched into the best song of the set, an excellent version of Alanis Morissette’s Hand In My Pocket, with Scott on lead vocals, as well as just about every voice in the house. We were then introduced to percussionist Craig Myers, who led the band through an original instrumental with a heavy african flavor as he played the Ngoni, a type of gourd harp. The set closed with Susskind Hotel, by request apparently. In short, Mike ended his JitD appearance with a fun, excellent set, but day two still ranks best of the three for my money.

As soon as the set ended, we popped over to the small hall to catch a bit of Keller Williams, who after three days still didn’t seem to have found his shoes. The place was really packed, so we didn’t get that good a look, and had to be back soon to the main hall for moe., where we once again were able to do some stage hugging for the first half.

Right from the start moe. was all business, as they played an intense set filled with short focused jams. The opening Skrunk when right into Bones of Lazarus, which got a huge response from the audience. After that came Rainshine, the second of three songs they would play this evening off their new album, allowing Al to make clear that he was not going to be outdone by Chuck in the guitar fireworks department. We ducked out during Kyle’s Song and missed the pairing of Mexico and Blue Jeans Pizza which ended the show by going into 32 things. That was unfortunate, but we had a date to keep with Dark Star Orchestra in the other hall.

I may have touched on this already, but there are jam band fans and then there are Deadheads, with obviously a lot of overlap in between, but not always one and the same. I would venture that the majority of festival goers who flew over from the states were jam band fans, who had come to see moe., Mike and Lotus. The Europeans, with a lot of Germans in particular, are predominantly Deadheads, and I am pretty sure that including DSO on the billing was the deal clincher that helped to make this the Jam In The Dam with the highest level of European attendance to date. Keller, of course, seems to bridge the gap between the two, as it appeared nearly everyone enjoyed the one-man-band, whether they were jam banders or Deadheads.

So, the small room was absolutely packed for Dark Star Orchestra’s final set, with a crowd probably considerably older than the Americans getting ready for Lotus’s festival closing dance party. Among the Europeans, there is of course a new generation of Deadheads who never actually saw the original band play, but there were also quite a few who had seen the Dead on various of their European tours. (That is, except for the two older Germans we met, who lamented having been living on the wrong side of the wall at the time)

For the final night, DSO had been slotted four hours of playing time (which in the end stretched close to a half hour more). For this monster show, they chose to recreate the May 10th, 1972 show at Amsterdam’s own Concertgebouw. If you are familiar with the Grateful Dead and the premise of a DSO show, this show has its problematic side (other than a 30 song setlist!). At the time, Mickey Hart was on a self-imposed hiatus from the band, which basically meant that drummer Dino English got the night off. At the same time, although Pig[en was still with the band, Keith and Donna Godchaux had already joined, mainly to compensate for Pigpen being unable to fill the piano role. So what do you with a song like Big Boss Man which comes close to the end of the first set, with Pigpen singing and blowin’ harp, but Keith playing piano? Well, DSO had an answer to that, as Rob Barraco sang Pigpen’s lines and played Keith’s piano parts, sort of a split personality, while “Donna” played Pigpen’s blues harp.

The first set was right on the money, with excellent versions of Loser, Jack Straw and He’s Gone. After ending with a roaring Casey Jones, the band took a set break while we googled the setlist from the original show to see what we had in store for the second set. Before the band came back on, the winners of the costume contest were announced up on stage and then Rob Eaton led the crowd through Happy Birthday for the DSO stage manager, who not only clebrated a birthday but had also proposed to his fiance the night before.

The second set of the night, and final set of the festival, started off with Truckin’ which dissolved into a high octane jam that barrelled along for a good 20 minutes before The Other One finally reared its psychedelic head.This was where DSO demonstrated why they are the best at what they do, not only playing faithful Dead versions but unleashing high intensity jams that echo the spirit of the whole Grateful Dead musical experience. One by one, DSO marched through the setlist, with only one mis-step for purists, as they forgot to play Ramble On Rose and had to go back and throw it in later, much to the crowd’s delight. It was sometime after 2:30 in the morning when the final chords of Not Fade Away did just that. The event organizers came up on stage to thank everyone for coming, and then DSO came back (with switched drummer) for a Ripple encore / sing-a-long.

Jam In The Dam VI 2012 is over. Many of us are headed home, some off to London to catch the DSO and Mike Gordon shows there, some off following moe. on the rest of their European tour, and some, I imagine, off to explore other European cities on their own. Four days in Amsterdam and three nights at the Melkweg have been tough on the body but good for the spirit. We can only look forward to the announcement of next year’s lineup.



Set: Skrunk > The Bones Of Lazarus, Rainshine, Kyle’s Song > Jazz Wank >(nh) Time Ed, Paper Dragon, Mexico > Blue Jeans Pizza > 32 Things

[via moe. Facebook]

Dark Star Orchestra

5/10/72 Concertgebouw Amsterdam Netherlands

Set One: Bertha ; Me And My Uncle ; Mr. Charlie ; China Cat Sunflower > I Know You Rider ; Black Throated Wind ; Loser ; Next Time You See Me ; El Paso ; He’s Gone ; Chinatown Shuffle ; Playing In The Band ; Big Railroad Blues ; Jack Straw ; Tennessee Jed ; Big Boss Man ; Greatest Story Ever Told ; Casey Jones

Set Two: Truckin’ > Drums > The Other One > Me And Bobby McGee > The Other One > Wharf Rat ; Beat It On Down The Line ; Two Souls In Communion ; Sugar Magnolia ; Ramble On Rose ; Sing Me Back Home ; Not Fade Away > Goin’ Down The Road Feeling Bad > Not Fade Away

Filler: Ripple

Notes: Original Grateful Dead show went “Two Souls In Communion ; Ramble On Rose ; Sing Me Back Home ; Sugar Magnolia

[via DarkStarOrchestra.net]


Set: Age of Inexperience, Kodiak, Livingston Storm, Wooly Mammoth, Massif,bDisappear, IACTMN > Lucid Awakening, Break Build Burn, GTM, Sunrain > Flower Sermon > Sunrain

[via TheGrinch]

Keller Williams

We’re on the look out for Keller’s March 16 setlist.

Mike Gordon

Set: Another DoorCrumblin’ BonesBlack TambourineMorphing AgainJonesMoundToys R Us[1]Hand in My PocketBarikaSusskind Hotel

[1] Mike Gordon debut.

Notes: This show featured the Mike Gordon debut of “Toys R Us” (Greyboy Allstars). This show is part of the “Jam in the Dam VI” also featuring moe.Dark Star OrchestraLotus and Keller Williams.

[via Phish.net]

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3 Responses

  1. i think the MGB song was Fire Eater – often done by Robert Walter and GBA. it’s a cover i believe.

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