A jam band is a musical group whose live albums and concerts relate to a fan culture that began in the 1960s with the Grateful Dead, who held lengthy improvisational "jams" during their concerts. These include extended musical improvisation over rhythmic grooves and chord patterns, and long sets of music which often cross genre boundaries.
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|Cultural origins||1960s, California, United States|
The jam-band musical style spawned from the psychedelic rock movement of the 1960s. The Grateful Dead and The Allman Brothers Band became notable for their live improvisational jams and regular touring schedules, which continued into the 1990s. This influenced a new wave of jam bands in the late 1980s and early 1990s, who toured the United States with jam band-style concerts, such as Phish, Blues Traveler, Widespread Panic, Dave Matthews Band, The String Cheese Incident, and Col. Bruce Hampton and the Aquarium Rescue Unit. The jam-band movement gained mainstream exposure in the US in the early 1990s following the rise of Phish and the Dave Matthews Band as major touring acts and the dissolution of the Grateful Dead following Jerry Garcia's death in 1995.
Jam-band artists often perform a wide variety of genres. While the Grateful Dead is categorized as psychedelic rock, by the 1990s the term "jam band" was applied to acts that incorporated genres such as blues, country music, contemporary folk music, funk, progressive rock, world music, jazz fusion, Southern rock, alternative rock, acid jazz, bluegrass, folk rock and electronic music into their sound. Although the term has been used to describe cross-genre and improvisational artists, it retains an affinity to the fan cultures of the Grateful Dead or Phish.
A feature of the jam-band scene is fan taping or digital recording of live concerts. While the mainstream music industry often views fan taping as "illegal bootlegging", jam bands often allow their fans to make tapes or recordings of their live shows. Fans trade recordings and collect recordings of different live shows, because improvisational jam bands play their songs differently at each performance. By the 2000s, as internet downloading of MP3 music files became common, downloading of jam-band songs became an extension of the cassette taping trend. Bands also distribute their shows online, sometimes within days or hours.