Evolution of Jam Vol. 1, at DROM Saturday, Nov.15th, featuring tribute sets to The Grateful Dead, Phish, and The Disco Biscuits w/ Reckoning, Uncle Ebenezer, and Tractorbear

As we get ready for our first Evolution of Jam show, we decided to ask members of the bands paying tribute to The Grateful Dead, Phish, and The Disco Biscuits some questions, with regards to their musical influence, their own musical evolution, and the decision to start a tribute band, among other things. Live for Live Music and CEG Presents are excited to team up and bring this series of shows into fruition, and couldn’t think of a better way to start things off then with three of the most influential jambands in the scene, and ones that truly define the evolution of all things jam.

The show is set for Saturday, Nov. 15th at DROM in New York City. Tickets are $10adv/$15dos, with a start time of 9pm, and going until…..whenever we feel like. Come get your jam on with us! Tickets are currently on sale, and can be purchased HERE. Check out our interviews with Tractorbear and Uncle Ebenezer below:

 

TRACTORBEAR

L4LM: How did you discover the music of the The Dead, Phish, Disco Biscuits? (answer for your respective band, or for all if you can)

Tractorbear: I remember my family friend showing me a version of Hot Air Balloon from Sammy Altman’s last Camp Bisco as the drummer of the Biscuits. Looking back, I find it funny that I told him to turn it off because I didn’t like it. I guess I couldn’t quite wrap my head around what they were doing. A couple of years later when I got into them and started seeing them frequently, it opened the door to reconnecting with old friends, like Steve (keys), and introducing me to new friends, like Julian (guitar).

 
L4LM: How have your own musical tastes evolved since being introduced to the Disco Biscuits?

Tractorbear: It’s totally changed the way we think about and play music. The Biscuits created a whole new brand of improvisation that focuses on minimal riffs and slow building movements. This opened the door for us to explore new genres in our own listening like deep house, techno, and nu-disco that tend to have a slow building, minimalist approach, and we’ve focused more on these elements in re-creating the Biscuits’ improvisational style than anything else.”

Personally, as a drummer my entire style has changed the past couple years. After hearing how Sammy paved the way, and how Allen Aucoin has perfected it, my goal in music and drumming has been to take what they have done, and put my own unique flavor on it to continue to continue to push musical boundaries.

 
L4LM: These bands share an obvious lineage through roots in improvisation, while all staying true to their own formulas for creating their distinct styles. What do you think is the reason for their success?

Tractorbear: Well, the Grateful Dead paved the way. They’re approach on pushing the boundaries of improvisational music was reinventing the wheel at the time. Even their business model directly influenced the bands that we all pay tribute to. For that I have to tip my cap, because without them, Tractorbear doesn’t happen. The Biscuits have taken that approach and pushed the boundary even more. On a given night standing in the crowd, they still manage to surprise us by manipulating their compositions, set lists, and extended improv sections to create some of the most forward thinking music out there. They’ve treated playing improvisational music as a team sport; everyone’s playing directly affects the sound and direction of the jam, and we believe in the exact same philosophy every time we take the stage.

 

L4LM:  At what point did you think to yourselves, “I think we should start a Disco Biscuits tribute band”?

Tractorbear: This story is too funny not to share. I’ve always been a firm believer in faith. Everything happens for a reason. Last summer I was at Verboten’s July 4th party in Williamsburg when I had bumped into an acquaintance of mine whom I had met during the previous Disco Biscuits New Year’s run. We had decided after the show to go back to my friend’s apartment to continue the party. This was the first time we got into the nitty gritty of talking about them. What happened next was great; after hearing this dude shred and sharing the same musical philosphy, along with our  we both came to the same conclusion; “If the Biscuits aren’t touring full time anymore, why not fill the void and do what they do?. During the time, there was a lot of uncertainty with the band and lots of speculation that their career was coming to an end. As fans Julian and I both agreed we couldn’t just let it die. We just had to fill in the missing pieces. After a rotating cast of potential bandmates and several failed attemps we finally put the pieces together; my closest friends from home whom I had been playing music with all my life were the perfect pieces. We practiced a total of 4 hours in elapsed time before our first show and next thing we knew we were being asked to play all over the country. It’s been the ride of our lives ever since.

Fortunately, since then the Disco Biscuits have come back with a vegeance and are playing incredible and inspired music. However, with no full touring schedule, we found a great pocket to fill for fans in the northeast, ourselves included.

L4LM: How excited for this show are you?

Tractorbear: To say we’re excited is an understatement. This is going to be one for the books and we’re preparing as such. We want to bring together everything that gets us to pick up our instruments and continue to push the boundaries that have been laid out for us. We’re planning this show with the mindset we have as fans. We want to reach the same musical peaks that the Biscuits have in our careers.

 

UNCLE EBENEZER

L4LM: How did you discover the music of the The Dead, Phish, Disco Biscuits? (answer for your respective band, or for all if you can)

Uncle Ebenezer: Shoheen (keyboards) was lucky enough to see a couple dozen Grateful Dead shows as a kid and Dante (guitar) was an avid collector of Dead tapes, their path to Phish was through the Grateful Dead and the scene those bands shared in the 90s. Corey (bass) was first introduced to Phish when his high school band covered “Twist.” From there he picked up all of their studio work, his first live Phish experience happened later, but when it did his fate was sealed. Nate (drums) grew up in Plattsburg, right across from Burlington, so he was always surrounded by live Phish and has a deep knowledge of their musical history, consequently he takes a big hand in forming our set lists where we blend traditional Phish song placement with new segues and antics. What we all have in common is how Phish, the Grateful Dead, and the Biscuits were part of our development as musicians, there is no separating these influences from how we play or even how we listen to music.

L4LM: How have your own musical tastes evolved since being introduced to Phish?

Uncle Ebenezer: What makes each of these bands special is how they take a huge range of musical styles and mix them into the Gumbo. Going through Phish’s catalog you see examples of almost every musical genre as well as demonstrations of musical concepts from the impossibly complicated to the sublimely Simple, its a gold mine for a developing player. On top of introducing us to the bands they covered, like Zappa, Ween, and the Talking Heads they also introduced us to different musical cultures, from bluegrass to latin jazz, heavy metal to prog, and part of the fun of being a Phish head is seeking out those musicians and styles that seemed to influence Phish and learning what Phish must have learned to make these amazing songs. Its what makes the love of Phish such a deep experience that goes way beyond Phish itself.

L4LM: These bands share an obvious lineage through roots in improvisation, while all staying true to their own formulas for creating their distinct styles. What do you think is the reason for their success?

Uncle Ebenezer: It comes down to the fact that improvisation is exciting to listeners, these bands cultivate fans that think deeply about music and therefore crave musical exploration. Our audience demand we bring them something new every time and as musicians that makes us happy, it allows us to be infinitely creative within these songs we all love. The combination of Phish’s high-energy arena rock/ psychedelia, plus their quirkiness made them accessible to a lot of kids that were into live music and its all those elements that we try to recreate when we play.

L4LM: At what point did you think to yourselves, “I think we should start a —-insert band—– tribute”?

It should surprise no one that NYC has a rich scene for musicians, spend enough time playing music and you start to run in the same circles and we’ve all been on the scene for years. The NYC jam scene is popping with talent, so when Shoheen wanted to use his experience playing in various Phish tribute bands he was able to pick out players that not only loved Phish and filled in the key roles but also had deep experiences jamming and improvising with each other. Frankly its that kind of musical camraderie that you just can’t just pick up like the chords to a song.

We also feel that tribute bands should add to and compliment the scene, in the case of Phish we’re talking about a band that is still peaking 30 years later. So our concept is to recreate the experience of seeing a Phish show in a small club setting, with the antics and audience interaction we all heard on those late 80’s/early 90’s tapes that most of us weren’t able to experience first hand.  

L4LM:  How excited for this show are you?

Uncle Ebenezer: We are incredibly excited. This is going to be aaaammmaaazing. Our ukulele band (Ukulelien) played a show with Tractorbear recently, and they are really awesome. We’ve all seen Reckoning over the years at the former Lions Den (aka the former Sullivan Hall, RIP), and they were amazing.  This is a group of bands that represent their respective scenes in NYC and and we do it because we love it.  Saying we are excited is the mother of all understatements.

 

*** To purchase tickets to Evolution of Jam Vol. 1 at DROM on Saturday, November 15th, click HERE. ***