Review by Steve Bloom
There’s no other awards show quite like the Jammys. A celebration of jam-band music inspired by the Grateful Dead, the Allman Brothers and other classic-rock improvisors, the Jammys holds court once a year in New York. This year’s event on March 16 took place at the Theatre at Madison Garden. The show, which debuted four years ago at Irving Plaza, has come a long way.
Award presentations are kind of an afterthought at the Jammys. Gov’t Mule took home two awards (Live Album and Live Performance), and Mule guitar hero Warren Haynes accepted another (DVD) for Dave Matthews Band. The Grateful Dead (Archival Album), moe. (Studio Album), the Allman Brothers (Song), Phish (Tour), String Cheese Incident (Album Cover) and Psychedelic Breakfast (New Groove) divided up the rest of the evening’s prizes.
Known for eclectic musical pairings, the Jammys brought together nine different musical units: Perry Farrell joined String Cheese Incident; Dr. John and Toots Hibbert collaborated on a brief set of New Orleans favorites; Slick Rick rapped with Disco Biscuits; Derek Trucks back up R&B legend Solomon Burke; the Harlem Gospel Choir opened for Soulive; Dickey Betts offered several Allmans classics with the help of Reid Grenauer and Edie Brickell; Victor Wooten and Oteil Burbridge dueted on bass; Chris Robinson sang with Gov’t Mule; and Lifetime Achievement awardee Steve Winwood finished the show with a number of the night’s performers, including Haynes, Betts and SCI’s Michael Kang, on the laidback "Low Spark of High-Heeled Boys" and a rousing "Gimme Some Lovin’."
During Gov’t Mule’s searing set (a scorching version of "Blindman in the Dark" was the evening’s highlight), the Black Crowes reunited for one song, "Sometime Salvation." (It was actually a reunion of the Robinson Brothers—Chris and Rich—and keyboardist Ed Hawrsh.)
The night’s only low point was the lack of a video tribute for Steve Winwood. Where was archival footage of Winwood’s career, from Spencer Davis Group to Traffic to Blind Faith to his solo work in the ’80s? While the clips during the awards segments were well-edited and entertaining, this omission was particularly glaring.
But it was live music that the nearly sold-out crowd ($55 per ticket) came for, and it was virtually impossible to leave the four-hour show disappointed.