For over 20 years, a smattering of bands have popped up and toured across the nation, creating sounds that have revitalized a musical genre — the jam. This genre, often written off as a thing of the past, has blurred edges and blended influences while staying true to its form and collective energy. It has kept music lovers boogying down, driving state-to-state on tour, and busting into fits of air guitar along the way.
During the last week of March and the first week of April, the Reno/Tahoe area is going to become the jam band mecca of Nor Cal. While many people like to throw all the ingredients that make up the jam scene into one salad, it’s important to note that the roots and sounds of each are usually quite different. If you’re looking for somewhere to groove to great music — or if you need proof that not all jam bands sound the same — it’s time to send this rock and bluegrass train into motion.
It’s a week of threes: three different venues, three different nights, and three different bands that have all redefined this ’90s-era music. Bands often grab the styles of different genres and mix them together to create a similar instrument-driven sound. These three bands have influenced each other and the scene as a whole. And each has made a name for itself based on its countless live performances and unique approach to playing. The bands’ fast-paced attention to detail and mind-altering solos require an open mind towards improvisation. While each of these acts command their own attention, when you mix them together over a weeklong run, it’s an unintentional festival.
Leftover Salmon: High Country Cajun
Hailing from Boulder, Colo., since 1989, Leftover Salmon has created a flavor all its own. Mixing zydeco (blues-meets-Cajun) with country and topping it off with high-energy bluegrass, Leftover Salmon has created a sound that sets it apart within the jam band sphere. Its zany live performances have gained it nationwide acclaim. What other band can claim coining the term “Festivaaaal?”
Info: $27, March 28 and 29, 8 p.m., Crystal Bay Club, devildogshows.com
Widespread Panic: Driving Rock from the South
This Athens-based band has put itself at the top of the list as far as a touring jam/rock band is concerned. Since the group’s inception in 1986, its southern rock ‘n’ roll sound has turned it into one of the most elite touring acts in the country.
Info: $50, March 30, 8 p.m., Grand Sierra Resort, Reno, grandsierraresort.com/entertainment/calendar
Yonder Mountain String Band: Progressive Bluegrass Rock
As far as new grass or neo-bluegrass is concerned, Yonder Mountain has contemporized the scene. Although members strum traditional instruments, it wouldn’t be a stretch to hear covers of everything from Ozzy Osbourne to Frank Zappa to the Grateful Dead. Above all, its anything-goes attitude and mastery of live performance keeps fans of both bluegrass and indie rock coming back for more.
Info: $27.50, April 3, 8 p.m. Montbleu Resort, South Lake, montbleuresort.com/entertainment.php