This week on the music beat

By Tom Sinclair
Updated October 18, 2002 at 04:00 AM EDT
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— JAM DANDY ”There’s a lot of good players here tonight,” said Blues Traveler’s John Popper about the lineup of the third annual Jammy awards. Ya think? This year’s Jammys, held Oct. 2 at New York City’s Roseland Ballroom and hosted by Popper (clad in bathrobe and pajamas — jammies, get it?), featured the creme de la creme of the jam-band community, from young up-and-comers like moe. and lap-steel guitarist Robert Randolph (who won the New Groove award) to venerated vets like John Scofield and Bob Weir’s RatDog. Promoter Peter Shapiro — who produced the TDK-sponsored event with Relix magazine — promised ”a long, long, long night of music,” and that’s just what we got: seven hours plus, with a generous 99-to-1 ratio of live music to awards presentations. The evening’s subtext was bizarro team-ups: Fred Schneider and Kate Pierson from the B-52’s joined Particle and stretched ”Love Shack” into the aural equivalent of Silly Putty, while members of moe. jammed with old-school metal men Blue Oyster Cult on the latter’s ”(Don’t Fear) The Reaper.” Randolph, together with guitarist Derek Trucks, delivered a dizzyingly virtuosic set that touched on everything from the Sanford and Son theme to Jimi Hendrix’s ”Voodoo Chile (Slight Return).” Other highlights included the Allman Brothers Band’s surprise appearance, in which they unveiled a new song, ”Desdemona,” and RatDog’s set, which found Weir dusting off Grateful Dead classics like ”Sugar Magnolia” and ”Franklin’s Tower.” Weir, with more than a touch of gray in his beard and hair, accepted the Lifetime Achievement award for the Dead. ”I want to debunk a myth,” said the guitarist. ”The Grateful Dead is often credited with being the first jam band. That’s horses — -.” He went on to cite Duke Ellington and Louis Armstrong as progenitors of the jam aesthetic, adding that the Dead owed ”a great deal to the confluence of African musical heritage and European musical tradition.” Phish’s Trey Anastasio, who netted awards for Tour of the Year and Studio Album of the Year, delivered his acceptance speech in the form of a song that ran, in part, ”I took some drugs with Bobby [Weir]/I took some drugs with Phil [Lesh]/…I’ll see you at New Year’s when Phish plays again/I’ll probably take too many drugs again.” No word yet on whether Anastasio plans to record that little ditty.

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