McCumberland Gap has never been dubbed a jam band. To me, that kind of excessive playing can often seem indulgent, serving the ego rather than serving the song. I try to serve the song by being a strong and confident band leader, keeping the music on course, and driving the song. But, sometimes I wonder, what would happen if the music were to drive itself? Where would it go?
Recently, I received some of the rough mixes from the recording of the Boulder Theater show we played earlier this year. One of the songs, usually a five minute song, was almost ten minutes long on the mix. There are some great musical detours on this recording that I might have previously called indulgent or excessive. I might still call it that, but……I like it. The extended-dance-version! I had some very talented musicians up there on stage with me and I was able to trust and let go of the steering wheel a little. I truly felt the music was driving itself, serving itself, and I was riding shotgun. It didn’t feel indulgent. It didn’t feel excessive. It felt like being a part of something much bigger than the songs themselves. I hope to have the live CD and DVD of that show completed and available by June. I love what Jerry Garcia, the epitome of great jam band leaders, once said, “You do not merely want to be considered just the best of the best. You want to be considered the only ones who do what you do.”