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Sunday, February 26, 2017

Jam Band Lament

My fellow bandmates and I recently saw Spafford opening for Umphrey's McGee. We were giddy as a bunch of school girls with excitement to learn from the masters. Spafford has big time competency and Umphrey's...well...they make it look easy. In fact, too easy! The energy from both bands was very different.

From Spafford I got the sense that they had worked very hard to put together a seriously tight and solid show. Mission accomplished, but the fear of a mistake was almost palpable.

Umphrey's, on the other hand, played like a mistake was highly improbable. They now have the skills and experience to put on an improvisational pyrotechnical show of massive proportions without busting a sweat.

Unfortunately, to really bare your soul to an audience, you need to be willing to cut the tethers of what has worked before, and neither band did that. How do I know this, you ask? Answer: Mistakes. Mistakes are the only signal. A wise person knows that "you never know how far you can go until you've gone too far.'

I am encouraging my band to continue making "mistakes." As a continuous improvement professional by day, I know that people who embrace their mistakes as learning opportunities end up making ever-smaller mistakes.

Further, I would encourage all of our jam band brethren out there to keep making them too. Give jam band audiences some credit for knowing what it means when you really hang yourself out there without a net. They love it just as much as the band members who are pushing their individual envelopes. That's the juice, baby!