Jam Central Station 7.05.14: My Morning Jacket
Posted by Jeff Modzelewski on 07.05.2014
One of the premier alternative crossover bands of the past decade
The "alternative" rock scene has gone through an amazing metamorphasis over the past 20 years or so. When I was growing up and in high school in the 90's, "alternative" primarily meant "grunge," and the moniker of "alternative" was used to differentiate Nirvana, Pearl Jam, and Alice in Chains from traditional rock bands like Aerosmith. But, obviously, "alternative" really just means anything outside of the mainstream. Since 90's alternative got re-named "grunge," there's been a whole slew of artists that could be classified as "alternative" under one definition or another. One band that I see falling squarely under that category is a band that often doesn't get lumped into the "alternative" section. With their blend of folk and country rock as well as psychedelic music and even funk and soul, My Morning Jacket is a clear alternative to the typical modern rock scene.
My Morning Jacket got their start in the late 90's in Louisville primarily as a platform for singer/songwriter Jim James to play his music. James had been involved in a handful of bands in high school and college, but was interested in leaving the hard-rock direction and found himself being more inspired by artists like Neil Young. He began writing and playing songs by himself in coffee houses and local venues before approaching friends and some other local artists that he knew with the idea of doing an album.
My Morning Jacket came together originally as a four piece, with James taking on most of the writing duties along with the production duties of their debut. They added a keyboardist in time for the release of The Tennessee Fire in 1999. While the album didn't have an impact in the States, the band found significant popularity in Europe, specifically in the Netherlands. The band responded by touring Europe incessantly, along with continuing to work to build a U.S. fanbase. The followed up their debut with an EP in 2000 and a full-length follow up At Dawn in 2001.
At Dawn something of a was a departure from their debut release. While fans of My Morning Jacket would soon become accustomed to the band consistently changing up their style, the changes were surprising. The most noticeable was the addition of a keyboardist to the band, allowing them to explore different sounds in their music. The album was also significantly longer than their debut, with many of the tracks going over 7 minutes. This album allowed the band to begin building more of a U.S. fansbase, and they quickly became well-known on the indie music circuit.
As they continued their touring schedule, however, the band saw some upheaval. Founding drummer J. Glenn left the band prior to the release of At Dawn and was replaced by KG Guetig. Guetig lasted less than a year, however, and was replaced by a childhood friend of James, Patrick Hallahan. Hallahan proved to be a valuable addition, as his strong relationship with James allowed the two to work very well together. Their rise on the indie scene led to the band being signed to Dave Matthew's ATO Records in 2002 for their major-label debut.
It Still Moves was released in 2003 to both critical and popular success. The album got positive reviews almost across the board, both for James' voice and songwriting and for the band's work. The band made their first of many appearances at Bonnaroo that year, and, while their sound was usually identified as indie rock or country rock, their energy and improvisational ability quickly found favor in the jam band community as well. They toured the U.S. and Europe nonstop, and continued to gain fans through strong performances and word-of-mouth.
Despite success, not all was going smoothly for the band. While some members thrived on the constant touring, guitarist Johnny Quaid and keyboardist Danny Cash quit the band unexpectedly prior to their 2004 tour. Solid replacements were quickly found, however, and the band continued on. The additions of Carl Broemel and Bo Koster brought stability to the band, and allowed the band to continue without really missing a beat. They played Bonnaroo again in 2004, moving from a tent to the Which Stage.
The band entered the studio again in 2005 to work on their next album, Z. The album was a major departure from their earlier work. Instead fans got a much more polished recording, courtesy of producer John Leckie. This was the first time that James had handed off the production duties to someone outside the band, and the difference in results were significant. Gone was the raw, unproduced sound of earlier records. Gone were the reverb-heavy vocals (often created by having James record his vocals in a silo). What came out instead was an album that was heavy on keyboards and synthesizers and included new genres that the band had never explored before. Despite these changes, both critical and fan response was extremely positive, and their ability to change directions and reach new fans allowed the band to continue to grow.
The band tapped producer Joe Chicarelli for their follow up album Evil Urges. While Leckie was best-known for producing Radiohead's The Bend's it was Chicarelli's work with Frank Zappa that inspired My Morning Jacket to bring him onto the album. The band wanted to focus on bringing their live sound into the studio, and they started by debuting many of the songs live prior to recording, including the 2008 South by Southwest festival. The album was released just in time for the 2008 Bonnaroo festival, where My Morning Jacket played an epic set that lasted nearly 4 hours and consisted of 35 songs.
Evil Urges saw the band get some radio play, something that had been largely absent from earlier releases. They took some time off in 2009 while James worked on Monsters of Folk, but returned to the road in 2010 with a variety of projects and shows. They did a residency in New York City where they played each of their studio albums over 5 nights and they returned to Bonnaroo in 2011. They also released Circuital in 2011, which was nominated for a Grammy. They debuted their "One Big Holiday" destination shows in 2013, and the event is looking to be an annual thing for the band. While they're overdue for a new album, their fans continue to support the band live.
Overall, My Morning Jacket's ability to gain fans almost entirely through relentless touring and word of mouth has been more than impressive. The band deserves their reputation as one of the most exciting live acts of the past decade. What's maybe most surprising is the fact that the band is still growing their fanbase, and they're still bringing in fans from a variety of different areas. My Morning Jacket is a band that has built their diverse fanbase through their original music and impressive work ethic. From hipsters to hippies, they've proven that they're going to be around for quite a while.
Gathering of the Vibes adds artists
Gathering of the Vibes made what is likely to be their final additions to their 2014 lineup. The festival added Dispatch, Karl Denson's Tiny Universe, and others to the festival. The festival already features Widespread Panic, John Fogerty, The Disco biscuits, Umphrey's McGee, and plenty of other heavyweights.
Lockin' adds artists
Lockin' made a few additions this week as well. To start with, the festival announced that the String Cheese Incident will be doing a special "String Cheese & The Gang" set that will include JT Taylor from Kool & The Gang as well as the Preservation Hall Jazz Band for a special "Incident." The festival also added a Derk Trucks & Susuan Tedeschi acoustic set, Dumpstaphunk, and Tauk to the festival.
July 3-6, 2014
Performers include: Widespread Panic, STS9, Ms. Lauryn Hill, Beats Antique, Trampled by Turtles, The Chris Robinson Brotherhood, and many more to be announced
July 17-20, 2014
Sunshine Daydream Memorial Park
Terra Alta, WV
Performers include: Shpongle, Beats Antique, EOTO, Conspirator, Zilla, vibesquad, Janover 7 Resunator, Cosby Sweater, Aliver Hall, Broccoli Samurai, and many others.
Northwest String Summit
July 17-21, 2014
North Plains, OR
Performers include: Yonder Mountain String Band, The Motet, Steep Canyon Rangers, Fruition, Dead Winter Carpenters, The Rumpke Mountain Boys, and many others
July 18-20, 2014
Performers include: Outkast, Jack White, Beck, The Replacements, Ray Lamontagne, Band of Horses, Nickel Creek, Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings, Gary Clark Jr., Trampled by Turtles, JJ Grey & Mofro, and many others
July 23-27, 2014
Performers include: Ben Harper & Charlie Musselwhite, Ms. Lauryn Hill, ray LaMontagne, Thievery Corporation, Ziggy Marley, Michael Franti & Spearhead, Buddy Guy, Robert Randolph & The Family Band, and many others
Performers include: Papadosio, Opilio, Gratifly Symphony, Earphunk, Earthcry, The Human Experience, Pigeons Playing Ping Pong, and many others.
Gathering of the Vibes
July 31-August 1, 2014
Performers include: Widespread Panic, John Fogerty, moe., Umphrey's McGee, The Disco Biscuits featuring Mickey Hart & Bill Kreutzmann, Ziggy Marley, Dumpstaphunk, and many others.
August 1-3, 2014
Performers include: Eminem, Outkast, Kings of Leon, Arctic Monkeys, White Denim, Broken Bells, Lorde, The Avett Brothers, Forster the People, The Head & The Heart, Trombone Shorty, Chromeo, and many others.
Werk Out Festival
August 7-9, 2014
Performers include: The Werks (3 nights), Papadosio (2 nights), Emancipator, Future Rock Zoogma, Dopapod, Zach Deputy, and many others.
August 8-10, 2014
Golden Gate Park
San Francisco, CA
Performers include: Kanye West, Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers, The Killers, The Flaming Lips, Spoon, Tedeschi Trucks Band, Chromeo, John butler Trio, Nicki Bluhm & The Gramblers, and many others
Arise Music Festival
August 8-10, 2014
Performers include: Galactic, Grateful Grass, Nahko & Medicine for the People, and many others
Peach Music Festival
August 14-17, 2014
Performers include: Allman Brothers Band (2 nights), Bob Weir & RatDog, Trey Anastasio Band, Tedeschi Trucks Band, Lotus, JJ Grey & Mofro, The Revivalists, Dopapod, The Infamous Stringdusters, papadosio, and others.
August 15-17, 2014
Performers include: Greensky Bluegrass, Dirty Dozen Brass Band, Steppin' In It, The Ragbirds, and many others.
Summer Set Music & Camping Festival
Performers include: Bassnectar, Umphrey's McGee, Kaskade, Disco Biscuits, Wu-Tang Clan, Big Gigantic, Chromeo, Cherub, and many others
August 21-23, 2014
Performers include: Beats Antique, Papadosio, Lettuce, Kyle Hollingsworth Band performing a tribute to Motown, Dopapod, Kung Fu, The Motet, Zach Deputy, and many others.
August 29-31, 2014
Snow Ridge Ski Resort
Performers include: moe. (3 headlining nights), Lotus, O.A.R. Les Claypool's Duo de Twang, Soulive, Twiddle, Aqueous, and others.
North Coast Music Festival
August 29-31, 2014
Performers include: Bassnectar, Kid cudi, STS9, Snoop Dogg, Dada Life, Zeds Dead, Dr. Dog, The New Deal, and many others.
Lockin' Music Festival
September 4-7, 2014
Performers include: Furthur, The String Cheese Incident, Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers,The Allman Brothers Band, Phil Lesh & Friends, Widespread Panic, Umphrey's McGee, Wilco, Bob Weir & Ratdog, and many others.
Phases of the Moon Festival
September 11-14, 2014
Kennekuk County Park, IL
Performers include: Widespread Panic (2 nights), Tedeschi Trucks Band, Gov't Mule, Galactic, Leftover Salmon, Chris Robinson Brotherhood, Robert Randolph and the Family Band, and many others.
September 5-7, 2014
Performers include: Yonder Mountain String Band with Allie Kral, Lettuce, Shpongle, Karl denson's Tiny Universe, Papadosio, Dopapod, Particle, The Heavy Pets, and many others.
Grand Point North Festival
September 13-14, 2014
Performers include: Grace Potter & The Nocturnals (headlining both nights), Lake Street Dive, Trampled by Turtles, The Devil Makes Three, Dr. John, Caroline Rose, and many others.
Harvest Music Festival
October 16-18, 2014
Performers include: Yonder Mountain String Band with Jerry Douglas, Trampled By Turtles, Railroad Earth, Lettuce, The Devil Makes Three, Dumpstaphunk, Elephant Revival, Cornmeal, and many others
Hangtown Halloween Ball
October 24-26, 2014
Performers include: Railroad Earth (3 nights), The Meter Men, Leftover Salmon, The Jeff Austin Band, The motet, and many others
October 31-November 2, 2014
Spirit of the Suwannee Music Park
Live Oak, FL
Performers include: String Cheese Incident (3 nights), Thievery Corp., Big Gigantic, Beats Antique, EOTO, Greensky Bluegrass, and many others
Bear Creek Music & Art Festival
November 13-16, 2014
Spirit of the Suwannee Music Park
Live Oak, FL
Performers include: Umphrey's McGee, Lettuce, Dumpstaphunk, The New Mastersounds, Break Science, Sister Sparrow & The Dirty Birds, Turkuaz, The Main Squeeze, Tauk, and many others
Strings & Sol
December 11-15, 2014
Puerto Morales, Mexico
Performers include: Yonder Mountain String Band, Railroad Earth, Leftover Salmon, The Infamous Stringdusters, and Greensky Bluegrass
January 6-11, 2015
Departs from Miami, FL
January 9-13, 2015
Grand Lido Resort
Performers include: moe., Floodwood, Conehead Buddha Horns, and Ha Ha The Moose.
January 14-18, 2015
Grand Lido Negril
Gov't Mule will host the event
Panic en la Playa Cuatro
January 24-28, 2014
Hard Rock Hotel and Casino
Punta Cana, Dominican Republic
Widespread Panic will host this event
One Big Holiday
January 31-February 4, 2015
Hard Rock Hotel
Riviera Maya, Mexico
My Morning Jacket will host the event
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!