“The Bus Came By and I Got On, That’s When It All Began:” An Oral History of the Jam Band Music Scene in the United States



Baran, Clay

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Before this thesis, there did not exist much scholarship on jam bands, and none of it from the point of view of participants. This oral history explains the history and cultural context behind jam bands and details the conducting of narrative interviews with 10 participants about their experiences at jam band shows and festivals. It addresses the topic of social cohesion at these shows and festivals and how that cohesion manifests. The resultant testimony, coupled with the author's own experiences and insight, clearly show that social cohesion is a central facet of the jam band scene and experience, and that cohesion manifests as energy between participants and the band, as well as an "ethos" of a helpful and kind nature that typically focuses on the group over the individual. Participants did also report, however, that social ills like theft and sexual harassment are still present at shows and festivals, albeit infrequently. This study found that participants feel they hold a deep connection between not only their minds and their bodies, solidified by bodily-musical movement at shows and festivals, but between their emotions & understanding of themselves and the world, and the music. Finally, all of these experiences at jam band shows and festivals, together, lead to what participants describe as transcendent and spiritual experiences.



Jam band(s), Music scene, Social cohesion, Publics or Imaginaries, Interviews, Oral history