Words & Images by Jake Krolick

Jam on the River 2006 :: 05.27 & 05.28 :: Penn's Landing :: Philadelphia, PA

Jam on the River 2006
Jam on the River has become a mainstay of Memorial Day weekend in Philadelphia, an annual summer outing where many folks on the East Coast choose to welcome in the summer. Recently the Jam endured a shift of management. In the past, it was managed by the City of Philadelphia; however, this year it was taken over by music giants Electric Factory Concerts (cough, Clear Channel, cough.) The take-over came in a swift two-year power shift. Low and behold, it was done fairly well as far as the music is concerned. Unfortunately, the charm it used to have with Alligator-on-a-stick, sweet potato fries, and modest sponsors is gone. Thanks to Geoff Gordon's solid choices in booking, this year's Jam was spread thick with good music.

As a seasoned veteran of the JOTR festival and one who remembers the way they were, I wanted to do something a bit different. In honor of another Memorial Day weekend of music, here are my Top Ten Reasons You Knew You Were at Jam on the River 2006.

#10 - Party with the Captain

Brandon Curtis
This year's Jam was truly a diverse pull, falling short on charm and heavy on quality music. The chunks of sound were linked together by the most annoying man in the world, a loud raving Captain Morgan! The captain stood on stage between sets and tossed out his pirated booty consisting of some free swag plastered with his logo and slogans. He's the captain you actually have to party with once every year. Not many leave the riverfront bragging that they "partied with the Captain."

#9 – Beach Balls Are Flying

Benevento/Russo Duo
Benevento/Russo Duo were easily the most laid-back musicians for Jam on the River 2006. Drummer Joe Russo hung around taking in the music both days and could easily be spotted enjoying most sets. The Duo's short set was opened with a massive beach ball war as the crowd sent 50-100 promotional giveaways flying through the air. "Best Reason to Buy the Sun" stood out as the Duo did what they do best and pounded us with a wall of sound. It was great to catch them early this summer before they transform into a larger presence with Mike Gordon and Trey Anastasio.

#8 - You Must Be This Messed Up to Enjoy the Ride

Ben Curtis
Geoff Gordon has booked Jam on the River for the last few years and done a decent job. However, one should bat a serious eyelash when Railroad Earth is placed between the Secret Machines and Ween. The tempo of Sunday's show was questionable, and when I spoke with Geoff about why, he had this to say, "I really like the audience to feel like they are on a roller coaster at the event." Thanks Geoff; perhaps next time you could add signs around the festival stating, "You must be this messed up to enjoy the ride."

#7 – Full Black Body Suit

The first thing many noticed about the Secret Machines was Ben Curtis's full black body suit in 90 degree temperatures. It made no difference to him as he thrashed on his guitar. His gyrations matched the way his brother Brandon ached and leaned on his keyboards as he played bass. Josh Garza's monotonous current of percussive fury finally clicked in the crowd as the Secret Machines pounded through a nasty set including an incredible "First Wave Intact." Their heavier sound was a welcome change to the laid-back music earlier in the day.

#6 – The Disco Biscuits JOTR Pseudo-Ambassadors

The Disco Biscuits
Disco Biscuits have headlined Saturday's Jam for the last three years, earning the band the title of pseudo-ambassadors of the festival. This year was no different as the Biscuits gnawed through another banner Saturday evening, the highlight being a meaty "Caterpillar" sandwiched around "Run Like Hell" > "Great Abyss." This year, instead of the obligatory one-night stand, TDB tossed in a second show. Sunday evening's wicked after-show at the Electric Factory was some of the best Allen Aucion to date. His thrashing of "42" brought the house down. Toss in the encored "Pinball Wizard" with Scott Metzger and step back folks - the shit had hit the fan.

#5 - Leap of Grace

Grace Potter & the Nocturnals
It would seem that by the end of the summer, a thoroughly captivating Grace Potter, will have a few more followers. She was in high spirits as always as she kicked off her summer at Jam on the River. Her set was highlighted by her new rising rock anthem to the touring life entitled "Stop the Bus." The tune built with Scott Tournet's soaring guitar and Matt Burr vigilantly keeping pace. The song was capped by Grace climbing up on Matt's drum kit to shake her new haircut and eventually leap off the kit Pete Townshend-style.

#4 - Funk That

The Blue Method
The guys in The Blue Method need some hefty props! After their 2004 debut Kill The Music: Volume 1, the band won the 2005 Relix JamOff and were named the "Best New Home Grown Band of 2005." Saturday's show was led by massive frontman Brian Williams, a singer who has a triple-threat arsenal of voice, trumpet, and trombone. Brian carried a spirit that could have brought the city to their feet. They played to a 1500-person crowd and knocked out some serious funk. Songs like their newly recorded "The Bounce" brought one of the liveliest early shows at Jam on the River to date.

#3 - A Brown Sound and a Jackass

Gene Ween
Synaesthesia is when the hearing of a sound produces the visualization of a color. Saturday evening the only color produced at Penn's Landing was brown. If Ween's "Ocean Man" started the flow, it was rocketed skyward with a tremendous "Johnny on the Spot," a "Tender Situation" with some insane vocal effects, and a very fitting "Freedom of '76," in which Gene finished on his back covered by a towel from his brother. The evening was so perfect that the jackass who climbed onstage to pronounce his dislike of Ween and the Disco Biscuits got pegged squarely in the family jewels by a flying bottle. Gener rightfully called him out mocking that he was A.D. Amorosi, a music critic from The Philadelphia Inquirer - the same swift critic that referred to the 12-band JOTR as a northern version of Bonnaroo.

#2 - Deal's Not Done

The New Deal
The New Deal from Toronto can throw a party like no other. For the second year in a row, they broke the crowd thoroughly in before the Biscuits took the stage. Keyboardist Jamie Shields held down some insanely tight linkups with bassist Dan Kurtz and drummer Darren Shearer. It wasn't enough for The New Deal to shock and awe the day crowd, so they decided to continue the party well into the wee hours of the night. "Hot" was an understatement in South Street's Club 218 as those brave enough to push on 'til morning were treated to the band up close and personal. The tiny venue shook as walls of live electronica covered the band and crowd in dripping sweat.

#1 - James Brown Send Offs

Ween & Family
Ween, Ween, Ween. They could easily have been a part of all "Top Ten Reasons You Knew You Were at JOTR 2006." Their home-turf show was bliss in a Boognish kind of way. They're not on the top of my Family-Friendly Live Show list, but those thoughts were scrapped when Gene "Aaron Freeman" Ween brought his daughter Anna on stage to sing. The moment was sweet and tender as the crowd cheered Gener's young daughter, who could only hide behind the mic, her glasses, and the opening words of "Ocean Man." At the end of her performance, Claude came from behind his drum kit and gave her a James Brown-style send-off by draping a towel around her shoulders.

JamBase | Philadelphia
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[Published on: 6/14/06]

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MangoNutbag starstarstarstarstar Tue 6/13/2006 12:54PM
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GregRN starstarstarstarstar Tue 6/13/2006 01:19PM
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nicely done man!good article.

honeypile starstarstarstar Tue 6/13/2006 02:22PM
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you forgot to add a few extra reasons.... 1)you were forced to spend $15 to park and then harassed to move out of the lot before a tailgate party broke out (god forbid)...
2)dirty dozen brass band ROCKED....WHO WROTE THIS ARTICLE?
3)secret machines gave you time to get a good hacky sac circle and enjoy the scenery.
4)You got told to throw out your apple and empty water bottle at the gate. (i made a stink about that rule causing me to buy goods and create trash and the one gate attendant was so inspired by my rant he told me he was going to resign from his position)

in the end this article points out the schedule problems that plagued sundays line up. Railroad earth should have got more credit. Saturday was for drug addicts, once again. They put a damper on last years beautiful set by hornsby when the biscuts came on. i made sure not to do the saturday show this year, ill get my duo fix with trey and mike. anyway thanks for checking the much unloved philly music scene with articles like this and the wu-li one. If you need a qualified writer that tells it like it is give me a holler.

All Loving Liberal White Guy Tue 6/13/2006 02:45PM
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All Loving Liberal White Guy

nicely done. but next time feel free to talk a little trach on clear channel and their bush loving cronies

gozan starstarstarstarstar Tue 6/13/2006 03:59PM
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RailRoad Earth is coming up this year! Thanks for photos and heads up on JOTR 2006! fellow humanzee love dem some outdoor philly bizness ;)

spearheadkid101 Wed 6/14/2006 07:39AM
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2 words disco biscuits no one has anything on them

nfenne star Thu 6/15/2006 06:22AM
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I was most impressed with the New Deal.

stu62 Thu 6/15/2006 10:51AM
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This was a much more appealing festival when it was the Jambalaya Jam, produced by Quint Davis, and featuring the great music from New Orleans. When it comes to Electric Factory--Just Say No.

jungMD starstarstarstar Thu 6/15/2006 01:55PM
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I love Secret Machines but thought this band was inappropriately placed on Sunday - in my opinion, their set killed the sweet summery vibe. A great band in need of a different venue.

All Loving Liberal White Guy Thu 6/15/2006 04:23PM
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All Loving Liberal White Guy

the secret machiens ruled the whole festival. proabably the best act there even though weeen kicked ass. now i know that they couln't give them the headlining spots on either nights becasue ween and disco biscuits are considered local bands in the philly scene but they should have been on at least second to last becasue when it's dark they have these amazing lights shows. they were however the best band on the bill this year and shoulda been given more time. and all of you need to get over it becasue the biscuits suck nowadays. they were promising when they first came out but now they're one of the cookie butter jam bands all shrinked wrapped. and they walk around like an ad for TEVA. nothing but a bunch of preppies with masking as true heads with their stupid abercrombie and fitch clothes

bigfro Sat 6/17/2006 06:31AM
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wes3 starstarstar Sun 6/18/2006 06:31PM
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also forgetting Grimace Federation who opened the whole event. Very sick, heavy, prog-groovy stuff. Hope to see more of them. Anybody know their deal ???

drinkwine247 starstarstarstar Tue 6/20/2006 08:04PM
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Whoever said it was empty for Ween is a moron. And secondly, Ween pisses in the biscuits cheerios biiiaaatch

KatieJill127 starstarstarstar Thu 6/22/2006 05:22PM
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new deal opening with VL tone, was nasty, the rest of their set was definately weak sauce compared to their last two nights in allston MA. you cant talk about the duo without mentioning the mimicking game they played with the cruise ship. this fails to express how ridiculous the electric factory biscuits show was. i want more pictures!

Death Cube K Fri 6/30/2006 09:08AM
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Death Cube K

ranking music is like ranking each breath of air.