04.21.06 – The Jammys

Last night we played the 6th Annual Jammys Awards Show at the Madison Square Garden Theater. Interesting event. They give awards to jam bands between collaborative perfomances by improvisational-leaning artists from all over the musical and generational spectrum. Chick Corea, Joe Satriani, moe. etc… We felt a little bit like we had no business being involved in the event, as a pop band, but the Jammys like to be eclectic, and it wasn’t a stretch at all to pair us with Peter Frampton, or as Ryan said into the mic as soon as we took the stage “Peter fucking Frampton!!”

We had two hours set aside for rehearsal with Mr. Frampton the day before. None of us knew what to expect and I was actually worried that he’d catch me playing the break-down hi-hat groove on “Do You Feel Like I Do” without the side stick rim shot (as a somewhat clumsy stick-drummer, I need two hands to play the hi-hat groove that his drummer played with one hand on “Frampton Comes Alive”). As it turned out Peter couldn’t have been cooler. He was gracious, open-minded, self-deprecating, a monster on guitar, and effusive about how much he loved the Guster song we were to play at the Jammys (“Hang On” — it’s on the new album). He was pure class. We rehearsed his song twice and our song twice. Anything more than that would have felt less exciting at the show.

And exciting it was. Though we reached “Best ‘Hang On’ Ever” status in soundcheck thanks to Peter’s tasty intermittent guitar work, our song was marred by technical problems at the Jammys. Ryan’s guitar wasn’t even on for the first two thirds of the song, though this is the norm for a show like this where there are 7 minute changeovers between bands with completely diverse lineups. “Do You Feel Like I Do” fared much better. We saved our best run of it for the actual real gig, and Martin Sexton joined in for an impromptu lick-trading solo before Peter brought the house down with his talk box. It was so fun.

The best part was that as we began to realize Peter was a cool dude in rehearsal, we began to feel more comfortable asking him the sort of questions we would have otherwise left on the shelf. I blame him for opening this door with his humble approachability. Ryan asked him what it was like to play on “All Things Must Pass” and I went right in with the “was that really your voice on the Homerpalooza episode of the Simpsons!?” and Scooter followed up with a question about his Family Guy cameo. After we’d picked his brain on his cartoon appearances to our satisfaction, Joe went in with the talk box and got a full on tutuorial on how the cutting-edge-in-the-mid-seventies-gadget works. I still don’t get it. But when he talks into it I want to put my hands in the air and scream.

Frampton demonstrates the talk box tube to Joe and Seth

And as we were leaving, and when I’m sure he thought we’d asked every predictable question we could muster, our tour manager Seth starting fidgeting a bit, clearly wanting to say something. He poked his head back into the rehearsal room door and let it out: “Have you ever heard Dinosaur Jr.’s cover of ‘Show Me the Way'”!!??

Indeed yes. Frampton’s heard that version, which Seth and I worshipped when we were in college. I am not sure how he feels about it. I never told him that when I was 10 years old I was over at Brian Trifari’s house and his older brother, who smoked pot, brought us into his room to listen to his vinyl copy of Frampton Comes Alive. He told us that this dude was so good at guitar, he actually made his guitar talk. He actually made his guitar say “Do You Feel Like I Do.” I listened and my jaw hit the ground. Impossible.

As for the Jammys, I didn’t really get a chance to appreciate many of the performances, except for Dweezil Zappa, who played right before us. With so many artists playing on one stage, the backstage was a clusterfuck of people and smoke — I felt like a carp stuffed into a tank in Chinatown with a bunch of crabs and lobsters. I was secretly afraid of getting my ass kicked because of our Trippin’ Balls stunt. I got the hell out of there as soon as we were done. I’m pretty sure Frampton brought down the house at the All Star Jam at the conclusion of the night.

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