2014 is almost at an end and what a year it’s been for jam music. I know find myself tasked with compiling the best moments and best releases of 2014, and what a task it is. There was no lapse of excitement this year as every jam band seemed to be firing on full throttle; throwing down infectious jams and putting out enough new music to incapacitate a full size elephant. But alas, here are the highlights from the jam world through my eyes.

Best Live Performances (Colorado Only):

#5 SunSquabi @ the 1UP Colfax – December 12th 2014

SunSquabi had a huge year (more about that later) culminating at their sold out show at the 1UP Colfax in Denver. Aside from being well attended the show was a grand slam for the boys who had just released their newest EP “Thunder” and also debuted some new tunes with Funk/Soul/EDM icon GRiZ who sat in on the set on Saxophone.

#4 The Heavy Pets @ Cervantes’ Other Side – October 18th 2014

The Heavy Pets are a band that draw crowds in the multiple of thousands on the east coast and in their home state Florida but not so much on the west coast. With that in mind it was nice to see them draw a decent size crowd at Cervantes’ Other Side. The first night of their two night run was incredible and fans got to hear a few classics from their first album like “Iceberg Blues” and “Rise.” The energy in the room that night was unbelievable.

#3 Twiddle @ The Bluebird Theater – November 15th  2014

This was my first time seeing Twiddle and all I can say is that this band is going to be huge someday. As I stood in the balcony of the Bluebird for their sold out show all I could think was that I was witnessing the rise of a legacy jam band. This quartet from Vermont are prolific musicians and performers and remind me of another jam band formed in Vermont that I adore…. you know who I’m talking about, or at least you should.

#2 Galactic with Chali 2na @ Arise Music Festival – August 8th 2014

What happens when you take one of the premier funk bands around and pair them with one of the most seasoned MC’s known to hip-hop? Pure gold that’s what. Between playing gems from their roster like “Baltic Wedding” and brining out Chali 2na to cover J5 songs Galactic had my head spinning.

#1 Roosevelt Collier led Super Jams @ the 1UP Colfax & Cervantes’ Other Side – November 21st & 22nd, May 17th 2014

2014 for me will be remembered as the year I fell in love with Roosevelt “The Dr.” Collier and his mastery of the lap steel. As an artist that tours as a solo act Roosevelt doesn’t have a regular band that travels with him, instead his band is assembled for him wherever hey may be, also known as “super jams” these performances create unique one-time only concert experiences for the audience. The first super jam I saw him run was a late night show in May after a Lettuce & Gramatik show at Red Rocks. When I arrived at Cervantes’ Other Side I had no idea what I was in for and promptly had my mind blown as Roosevelt proceeded to shred the lap steel aided by members of Lettuce, The Motet, and Big Gigantic. From there on out I made sure not to miss a show led by the Roosevelt Collier. The second super jam I saw him lead was a few months later at the 1UP Colfax, this time he was backed up by Oteil Burbridge [Allman Brothers], Chris Pandolfi [Infamous Stringdusters], Andy Hall [Infamous Stringdusters], Jeremy Salken [Big Gigantic], Andy Thorn [Leftover Salmon], and Dominic Lalli [Big Gigantic]. The second time around may have been better than the first. Check out the recording of the second set of night two and try to stand still when the band covers “Superstition” by Stevie Wonder, it’s impossible.

Best New Music: 

#5 “Dolla Diva” by Galactic feat. David Shaw & Maggie Koerner. Probably one of the most played tracks on Sirius XM’s Jam_On station and one of those songs you’ll be singing hours after listening to.

#4Thunder” EP by SunSquabi. This EP reminds me why I’m a fan of jamtronica – and SunSquabi. It also features vocals from Red Bull Sound Select artist Povi Tamu, definitely grab that DL.

#3 Collisions” by Tauk. This breakout band from NYC hit the ground running with “Collisions.” Do not miss these guys in 2015.

#2 “Dark Side of the Mule” archival release of Gov’t Mule‘s 2008 Pink Floyd themed NYE Show. Many bands have taken on the enormous task of covering Pink Floyd’s “Dark Side of the Moon” but few have done it justice. This is by far my favorite cover of the classic album. Unfortunately I cannot provide you with a free legal version but trust me, you’re gonna want to buy this one.

dark side of the mule

#1 “Martian Monster” from Phish Halloween @ MGM Grand Hotel and Casino Las Vegas, NV. If there’s one show I’m kicking myself for missing it’s Phish Halloween. This year the boys covered “Disney’s Haunted House” and nearly broke the game. The jam “Martian Monster” is the spaciest Phish jam I’ve ever heard and the sample used reminds me of STS9‘s “Arigato.” So if you’re into tribe but unsure about Phish maybe this will serve as a “gateway jam” and you’ll become a fan of the greatest band to ever exist – yeah I said it, haters come at me!

Biggest Year: SunSquabi

No one had a bigger year than Boulder based jamtronica act SunSquabi. This year saw the band achieve some impressive accolades including selling out the 1UP, releasing new music while simultaneously touring the country, opening for some heavy hitters like The Disco Biscuits and The Motet, and collaborating with some insanely talented musicians like GRiZ and Manic Focus. 2014 was the year that SunSquabi put themselves on the map but 2015 is going to be the year that SunSquabi breaks out and truly flourishes. Keep your eyes on SunSquabi and make sure you see them as many times as you can in 2015.

Squabi.Press

 

Biggest Year Runner Up:  Jaden Carlson

What were you doing when you were 13? You probably weren’t the frontman of you own band sitting in with some of the biggest names in the jam world. Jaden Carlson at the tender age of 13 has achieved a level of proficiency on the guitar that some people won’t achieve in their entire life. This girl is crazy good, I haven’t had the opportunity to see her band yet but I’ve seen her sit in with Roosevelt Collier, Tauk, Dopapod, New Mastersounds, and Twiddle…. just to name a few. If you go to jam concerts in Denver and haven’t seen her yet just give it time, she sits in with nearly everyone these days.

jaden carlson Twiddle

Well that’s a wrap for Pump The Jam 2014. I’ll be getting things started next year with my recap of the mecca of all jam vacations a.k.a. Jam Cruise so keep an eye out for that mid January. Thanks for reading and don’t forget to follow me on Twitter at @Andrw_In_Action for all things jam, music industry news, and for random thoughts and opinions that I might have.

-Andrew