The Stanky, Sticky Air Up There

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Part II of our two-part Jammys Coverage

See Jammys calls it curtains, honors Phish (above)

My Report from the Nose Bleed Seats at The Jammys

On the scene coverage

by Victor Guarneri

Web Exclusive

After much hassle and finagling it seemed that I’d never get into The Jammy’s.

Will call? No ticket.
The other will call? No ticket.
Press will call? No ticket.

It’s not like I flew here from Colorado for this or anything. I began to feel like that character Adam Sandler used to play on Saturday Night Live – the loser concert reviewer, who never got to “attend the show,” as he used to say.

E-mail print out to the rescue. The press guy reads my e-mail confirming my two press tickets and said, “Damn, I’m gonna hear about this one. Sorry, there’s no more press tickets or laminates. Take these regular tickets and go in the front door.” Score! The nosebleediest of the nosebleeds — my favorite place.

As I settled in, hometown boys, Rose Hill Drive, were ripping it with Matisyahu, finishing up “Close my eyes.” Daniel Sproul shredded the guitar on the star-studded stage. About this time the nose bleeds proved to be much more fun than the stodgy confines of the up-close press seats. Mmm, nosebleeds. They brought me right up to a comfortable altitude.

Just when I thought I was well acclimated, out comes Chevy Chase — odd considering the Jammys are an award show, and Chase hasn’t done anything noteworthy in eons. (“That’s centuries to you and me, Russ.”)

I couldn’t figure out what the hell he was doing. Alas however, he took a seat behind the piano and played a few numbers with loop-master Keller Williams. Apparently, Williams and Chase are buddies, because later on, when Keller was to receive his award for “Cadillac” Chase came out and accepted the award; thanking his wife, Emily, and his record company “Blow Me Records.” Chase hasn’t been funny since the ’90s, but he made me belly laugh more than once last night and it was refreshing.

Next up was Page McConnell’s Jammy’s Jazz Band, which included Roy Haynes and Christian McBride. They started with “Billy’s Bounce” by Charlie Parker and went into a “Cars, Trucks, Busses.” It was stellar and I was psyched to have seen it.

From the get-go I was blown away by Galactic. What a huge, heavy sound? I can honestly say it was their best performance that I’ve witnessed. But the early songs were nothing compared to what happened when Doug E. Fresh joined them on stage. It was immediate overload. Hearing him beat-boxing with the drummer and belting out snippets of all-time favorites like “La Di Da Di” and “I’m Leaving on a Jet Plane” topped my evening.

I’ve been to the last five Jammy awards and I’ve seen Slick Rick, which I thought was the best shit ever ’til I saw this. Galactic should take Doug E Fresh on tour! I’d pay tons for that ticket.

Next came the Fab Faux which frankly I could live without. But wouldn’t you know it ,Trey Anastasio came out to play with them. I had been semi-disappointed until Trey plugged in. I have to admit, I forgot how godly Trey is. It pissed me off even more that Phish stopped playing. He was huge and his performance roared. He is still truly the man.

As the awards went on the fans started getting antsy, as the overwhelming wild card of the night had still not been played – literally or figuratively. Finally it was time for the Life Time Achievement Award.

By this point of the evening I was stoned out of my mind and all the chatter in the nosebleeds was, I think, focused solely on Phish. Are they gonna play or not? Before the award was given out we had seen Page, Trey and Jon Fishman (to give out a Mimi Fishman Foundation award) but we weren’t sure about Mike. (But, then again have we ever been sure about Mike?)

They announce Phish and boom, there they were. It was like magic. They were standing on stage together for the first time in four years, an arm’s length away form a million instruments. People were flipping out!

Of course, in typical fashion, Trey couldn’t shut up, but I was glad to hear his heart felt speech, even when it got as rambling as an extended version of “Lizards.”

As they walked off the audience started chanting, “Play a song. Play a song. Play a song.” It never happened. They accepted the award and were gone.

The night was not without Phish tunes, however. Capping the night was the Headcount all-star band, which honored Phish with a short set ripping through “Wilson” and “2001.” It was good, but it certainly wasn’t Phish — and what an odd concept to hear a band covering a band that is actually in the building?

Still, the night was an amazing mix of music and emotions, stoners and memories. VIP access would have made me feel all warm, fuzzy and special, but the truth is that the night was special enough on its own, and I was happy to have been there.

Now, if I can only find my plane ticket home. I hope the will call e-mail trick can save my ass with the airlines.

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