Phish, Grateful Dead Win At Jammy Awards

A virtual who's who of jam bands, related artists, presenters, producers, journalists, and fans came together Thursday at New York City's Irving Plaza for the genre's first awards show, the Jammys.

Pushing aside the long-winded acceptance speeches associated with mainstream award shows, the Jammys let the music do the talking, as the evening's artists performed extended covers of their jamming forefathers.

Dubbed the Jammys Orchestra, the opening all-star collaboration (which included organist Merl Saunders and guitarist John Scofield) delighted the packed dance floor with a funk jam loosely based around the vamp of "Watermelon Man" from Herbie Hancock's 1973 jazz-funk crossover album "Head Hunters."

Colorful co-host and Moon Boot Lover guitarist Peter Prince then rendered the tongue-in-cheek "Jammys Theme," which included lyrics mocking the commercial success of pop stars Ricky Martin and Britney Spears. Prince twitched and contorted as he sang "Ricky

with his bonbons/ And Britney with her pompoms/ And a butt thong/ Would reign supreme."

"Settle down, kids, settle down," Primus bassist Les Claypool said, jokingly mocking the spirited but typically gentle hippie crowd. "You know, management here told me to tell you there's too much crowd-surfing going on in here."

Claypool, whose recent collaboration with Phish guitarist Trey Anastasio and ex-Police drummer Stewart Copeland as the rock uber-trio Oysterhead has been embraced by the jam-band scene (see "Stewart Copeland Opens Oysterhead; Les Claypool Brings Rat Brigade"), joined the Disco Biscuits for a medley that featured Pink Floyd's "Have A Cigar" and The Beatles' "Tomorrow Never Knows."

Connecticut funksters Deep Banana Blackout offered their take on Santana's "Everybody's Everything" and Frank Zappa's "I'm The Slime."

Blues singer Susan Tedeschi sat in with Frogwings, a jam-rock conglomeration featuring

Allman Brothers Band drummer Butch Trucks, guitarists Derek Trucks and Jimmy Herring and bassist Oteil Burbridge, as well as keyboardist Kofi Burbridge (see "Primus' Les Claypool, Frogwings To Play Jammys").

Vermont rockers Phish, perhaps the quintessential modern jam band, took home the award for Live Set Of The Year for their seven-hour Millennium Eve set in the Florida Everglades.

"The idea of going out there for seven hours without any sort of plan whatsoever seemed to encapsulate the essence of improvisation," Phish bassist Mike Gordon wrote in an acceptance sent via e-mail. "The location was beautiful, and the jamming was relaxed. We are honored to be a part of this community of great people and amazing music."

Canadian jam-electronica group The New Deal performed perhaps the first techno tribute to bluegrass pioneer Bill Monroe. Dripping synth effects and club-ready dance beats accompanied the band's 25-minute

reading, electrifying the capacity crowd.

New Hampshire's Percy Hill won the Studio Album Of The Year Jammy for their self-produced LP "Color In Bloom."

Peter Shapiro, owner of popular New York jam-band breeding ground the Wetlands Preserve nightclub, presented B.B. King with the Wetlands Award for lifetime achievement.

"Music is my life, my living," King said, accepting the award via a videotape shot at his newly minted blues club across town. "And jamming, you get to exchange ideas with people -- it's wonderful. I thank you all."

Jammy winners:

Release Of The Year Grateful Dead, "So Many Roads"

Jam Of The Year Disco Biscuits, "Akira Jam," Dec. 31, 1999

Live Set Of The Year Phish, Dec. 31, 1999, Set II

Live Album Of The Year Moe., "L"

Wetlands Award B.B. King

Studio Album Of The Year Percy Hill, "Color In Bloom"

Future Jam (musicians award) Soulive

New Groove Of The Year (fan vote): Fat Mama

Home Grown Music: Strangefolk, "Lore"

Radio Show: "The Music Never Stops," Barry Smolin, KPFK-FM, Los Angeles

Fan Web Site:

Community Service: Strangers Helping Strangers

Topper Award (commitment to the scene): Chris Zahn Writer: Jeff Waful