music / Columns

Jam Central Station: Going Local

April 15, 2018 | Posted by Jeff Modzelewski



I’ve spent the majority of my time with this column focusing on national, or at least very successful regional, bands. Obviously most of these bands aren’t going to be playing stadiums, but most of the bands that I talk about here are at least playing large clubs or theatres, selling at least a few hundred tickets per show across most of the country. These are bands that are typically able to get on major festivals and not be on the very bottom row. But, honestly, that’s not where I’ve gotten some of my favorite music. There are so many great bands that never see the light of day outside of their hometown or home state. There can be so many reasons for this, and just because a band doesn’t “make it big” doesn’t mean they’re not excellent. Local music is the bedrock of any musical genre or music scene, and there are many great reasons to check out these bands.

One reason I love seeing local shows it the opportunity to see something completely new. The level of variety and creativity with local music can be simply off the charts. There’s a simple reason for this, in my opinion. The more out of the box a band is, the less likely it is that band will rise up through the ranks. While there are exceptions to that rule and some big bands can get pretty crazy, the more local you get the more likely you are to find something that truly surprises you. One of my favorite Cleveland area bands, The Big Black Galactic, jumps across genres and styles in a way very few bands can match. Other bands add unique instrument combinations or vocal styles. Punk rock with cellos. Acoustic hip-hop. A handstand competition mid-set. You can find all different sorts of music in your local scene.

One thing you can’t discount when it comes to local bands is the effort they put in to put on a great show. These folks are putting on this work almost exclusively for their love of music. Sure, some of them are trying to get bigger, but most know it’s unlikely to happen. So they want to make the most of what they have. When I was in an active local band (cheap plug for The MuckleBuck), we went out of our way to add to the entertainment value to our shows. Live painting and art, lighting design, all that comes into play. And some bands take it even further. I recently saw a local favorite of mine, Coup de Grace, do a Willy Wonka themed show. Another former local act would do themed shows every year, including Alice in Wonderland with full costumes and multiple songs in the set related to the theme. These folks bust their asses to book, promote, and create these shows. That work should be appreciated.

And one of the best ways to show your appreciation is give them your money. Buy a ticket to a local show, it’ll almost always be $10 or less. Buy a CD or shirt. Usually these bands design their own gear so you’re supporting not only someone’s music but also their artwork. And then you’re the guy at a show that has a cool unique shirt no one else knows. I’ve heard some amazing locally produced CDs and I have a collection of merch from local bands and festivals that I’m proud to represent at shows.

Another thing to remember is that nearly every big band started out as a local band. Bands rarely start out playing 1,000+ seat venues, particularly bands in the “jam band” category. I’ve watched bands like The Main Squeeze, Aqueous, TAUK, Pigeons Playing Ping Pong, Twiddle, and The Werks go from small clubs to mid-sized festival jam bands. And these are just bands that I saw run through my town and play to less than 25 people. Every band went through that. Every band, from Phish to Greensky Bluegrass to Lettuce started out playing to nearly empty rooms at some point. The first time I saw Twiddle (my band opened up for them) I had no idea they were 6 months away from blowing up. Even when I saw their set I enjoyed them and knew they were talented, but I didn’t see them making a huge leap on the scene. I was wrong and the next time I saw them was on the main stage at Lockn’.

You may not have big bands coming through your town every weekend and, even if you do, you probably can’t afford to go to all of those concerts. But you can see a local show just about any weekend you want. So many people who will never be rock stars just want to get on stage and play music in front of an interested audience. That in and of itself is a huge thing. People are taking their work and putting out there for everyone. That takes all kind of guts and courage and it’s something that we should be supporting. So don’t just wait for a band to get big to go see them. Find something awesome in your city and go see that. Get to know the people in the bands putting the music out. It’ll be worth the effort.



Phish announce subscription-based video platform
Phish announced that they will be on-demand videos to their LivePhish streaming service. The platform will be rotating videos of Phish shows on a regular basis, along with allowing audio streaming of hundreds of shows.

moe. announce dates
moe. announced a run of summer dates, including a few dates featuring Phil Lesh and one show featuring the full Terrapin Family Band. Right now the band is scheduled to be on the road through mid-July.

Apr. 20 – Lincoln Theatre – Washington, DC

Apr. 21 – Down by Downtown Fest – Roanoke, VA

Apr. 22 – Pisgah Brewing Co. – Black Mountain, NC

Apr. 24 – Wellmont Theatre – Montclair, NJ

Apr. 26-27 – Higher Ground – Burlington, VT (sold out)

Apr. 28 – Calvin Theatre – Northampton, MA

May 25-27 – Summer Camp Music Fest – Chillicothe, IL

Jun. 3 – Music on the Mothership – Taos, NM

Jun. 29-30 – Terrapin Crossroads – San Rafael, CA^^

Jul. 1 – Terrapin Crossroads – San Rafael, CA&&

Jul. 3 – The Catalyst – Santa Cruz, CA

Jul. 4-5 – Belly Up – Solana Beach, CA

Jul. 6 – Fonda Theatre – Los Angeles, CA

Jul. 7 – Pappy & Harriet’s – Pioneertown, CA

Jul. 11 – Belly Up – Aspen, CO$$

Jul. 12 – Red Rocks Amphitheater – Morrison, CO

Jul. 13 – Waiting Room Outdoors – Omaha, NE

Jul. 14 – The Truman – Kansas City, MO

Jul. 15 – The Pageant – St. Louis, MO

Jul. 18 – Tippecanoe Amphitheater – Lafayette, IN

Jul. 19 – Goodyear Theater – Akron, OH

Jul. 19 – 21 Peach Music Fest – Scranton, PA

^^: with Phil Lesh
&&: with Phil Lesh & The Terrapin Family Band
$$: acoustic show


Wannee Festival
April 19-21
Spirit of the Suwannee Music Park
Live Oaks, FL
Widespread Panic, Phil Lesh & The Terrapin Family Band, Dark Star Orchestra, Chris Robinson Brotherhood, North Mississippi Allstars, Karl Denson’s Tiny Universe

Sweetwater 420 Festival
April 20-22
Centennial Park
Atlanta, GA
String Cheese Incident, Umphrey’s McGee, Tedeschi Trucks Band, Sturgill Simpson, Vulfpeck, Joe Russo’s Almost Dead, Papadosio, The Record Company, Spafford, Southern Avenue

April 26-29
Wilkes Community College
Wilkesboro, NC
Kris Kristofferson, Jamey Johnson, Sam Bush, The Devil Makes Three, Donna the Buffalo, The Way Down Wanderers, Wesley Bright & The Honeytones

Charm City Bluegrass Festival
April 27-28
Druid Hill Park
Baltimore, MD
The Devil Makes Three, The Travelin’ McCoury’s, The Steeldrivers, Jeff Austin Band, Billy Strings, Larry Keel Experience

May 17-19
Fort Royale Farm
Bedford, PA
Pigeons Playing Ping Pong

May 24-27
Cumberland, MD
The Del McCoury Band, The Travelin’ McCoury’s, The Bluegrass Congress, Old Crow Medicine Show, David Grisman, Sam Bush, Bela Fleck & Abigail Washburn, The Jerry Douglas Band, The Wood Brothers, Elephant Revival, Fruition, Billy Strings

Summer Camp
May 25-27
Three Sisters Park
Chillicothe, IL
moe., Umphrey’s McGee, Phil Lesh & The Terrapin Family Band, STS9, Greensky Bluegrass, Beats Antique, EOTO, Everyone Orchestra, Keller Williams, Kyle Hollingsworth Band, Lettuce, Slightly Stoopid, Papadosio, Twiddle, Yonder Mountain String Band

Dark Star Jubilee
May 25-27
Legend Valley
Thornville, OH
Dark Star Orchestra, Los Lobos, Infamous Stringdusters, Hot Tuna, The Nth Power, Rumpke Mountain Boys

Camp Greensky
May 31-June 2
Wellston, MI
Greensky Bluegrass, Jeff Tweedy, Trampled By Turtles, Fruition, Billy Strings

Purple Hatter’s Ball
June 1-2
Spirit of the Suwannee Music Park
Live Oak, FL
Lettuce, Spafford, Breaking Biscuits, Toubab Krewe, The Heavy Pets, Southern Ave.

Music on the Mothership
June 1-3
Taos, NM
moe., Railroad Earth, The Infamous Stringdusters, Rising Appalachia, Antibalas, Assembly of Dust, Fruition, Nicki Bluhm, Melvin Seals

June 7-10
Manchester, TN
Eminem, Muse, The Killers, Bassnectar, The Revivalists, Rebelution, STS9, Mavis Staples, Trombone Shorty, Spafford, Pigeons Playing Ping Pong

Blue Ox Music Festival
June 14-16
Eau Claire, WI
Greensky Bluegrass, The Devil Makes Three, Sam Bush, Del McCoury Band, The Infamous Stringdusters, Margo Price, Billy Strings

Mountain Jam
June 15-17
Hunter Mountain, NY
Jack Johnson, Sturgill Simpson, alt-J, The War On Drugs, Portugal. The Man, The Decembrists, George Clinton & Parliament Funkadelic, Rag n’ Bone Man, Turkuaz, The Record Company

Electric Forest Weekend 1
June 21-24
Double JJ Ranch & Resort
Rothbury, MI
The String Cheese Incident, Bassnectar, Chromeo, Xavier Rudd, Andy Frasco & The UN, Aqueous, Big Something, Corey Henry & The Funk Apostles, Everyone Orchestra, Karl Denson’s Tiny Universe, Manic Focus, Shook Twins, The Main Squeeze, The Werks, The Nth Power, Toubab Krewe, Turkuaz

Road Jam
June 22-23
Two Roads Brewing Company
Stratford, CT
Lotus, Pigeons Playing Ping Pong, The Motet, TAUK

Electric Forest Weekend 2
June 28-July 1
Double JJ Ranch & Resort
Rothbury, MI
The String Cheese Incident, Bassnectar, Chromeo, Xavier Rudd, Aqueous, Big Something, Corey Henry & The Funk Apostles, Everyone Orchestra, Fruition, Karl Denson’s Tiny Universe, Manic Focus, Shook Twins, The Main Squeeze, The Werks, The Nth Power, Toubab Krewe, Turkuaz

High Sierra
July 5-8
Quincy, CA
String Cheese Incident, Sturgill Simpson, Lettuce, The Wood Brothers, Turkuaz, Lotus, Pigeons Playing Ping Pong, Twiddle, Fruition, Spafford

Camp Bisco
July 12-14
Montage Mountain
Scranton, PA
The Disco Biscuits, Bassnectar, Excision, Bonobo, The Floozies, Lettuce, TAUK, Lotus, Papadosio

The Ride Festival
July 14-15
Telluride, CO
The String Cheese Incident, Sheryl Crow, Grace Potter, Joe Russo’s Almost Dead, Chris Robinson Brotherhood, Big Something

Peach Festival
July 19-22
Montage Mountain
Scranton, PA
Phil Lesh & The Terrapin Family Band, Gov’t Mule, Joe Russo’s Almost Dead, Dicky Betts, moe., Twiddle, Chris Robinson Brotherhood, Blackberry Smoke, Turkuaz, Leftover Salmon, The Main Squeeze,

Northwest String Summit
July 19-22
Horning’s Hideout
North Plains, OR
Yonder Mountain String Band, Greensky Bluegrass, Railroad Earth, Leftover Salmon, The Infamous Stringdusters, Keller Williams, Fruition, Mandolin Orange, Steep Canyon Rangers

July 25-29
Floyd, VA
Foster the People, The Infamous Stringdusters, Hiss Golden Messenger

Element Music Festival
July 26-29
Snug Lake Ampitheatre
British Columbia
Lotus, Spafford, Particle

Werk Out Festival
August 2-4
Legend Valley
Thornville, OH
The Werks, Umphrey’s McGee, Lettuce, Papadosio, Pigeons Playing Ping Pong, Twiddle, Turkuz

Summer Meltdown Festival
August 2-5
Darrington, WA
Bassnectar, Big Gigantic, Greensky Bluegrass, Lettuce, Beats Antique, Papadosio, Twiddle, Pimps of Joytime

August 23-26
Arrington, VA
Dead & Company, Widespread Panic, Tedeschi Trucks Band, Umphrey’s McGee, Joe Russo’s Almost Dead, Sheryl Crow, Lettuce, George Clinton & P-Funk, Blues Traveler, Matisyahu, Spafford, Pigeons Playing Ping Pong

FreshGrass Festival
September 14-16
North Adams, MA
Trampled By Turtles, Yonder Mountain String Band, Indigo Girls, Ricky Skaggs & Kentucky Thunder, Steep Canyon Rangers

Hillberry Music Festival
Railroad Earth, Trampled By Turtles, Sam Bush, Lettuce, The Wood Brothers, The Infamous Stringdusters, Billy Strings, Split Lip Rayfield

Strings & Sol
December 7-11
Puerto Morelos, MX
Yonder Mountain String Band, Greensky Bluegrass, Railroad Earth, The Infamous Stringdusters, Leftover Salmon


Thanks again for stopping by. I’ll be back next week with more jam. Until then, check me out on Facebook and Twitter for up to the minute concert announcements. Until next week, Jam On!