Celebrating 20 Years Of JamBase

Fan Sites

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This year marks the 20th anniversary of JamBase. Part of the yearlong celebration includes the 20 For 20 series featuring 20 lists focusing on 20 notable topics and events of the JamBase era. The lists were compiled by current and former JamBase staff members and contributors, music industry professionals and other experts. Stay tuned for more, as the series continues throughout 2019 and we look back at two decades of encouraging fans to Go See Live Music!

Previous 20 For 20 Lists include Standout Debut Albums By Jam Acts, Pranks & Gags Played By Jam Acts, Festivals We’ve Lost, Memorable Reunions, Farewells Of The Past 2 Decades and Longest Jams & Standout Improvisations. Next up is a look at Fan Sites launched in the past 20 years.

In the early days of the internet, back before smartphones kept people constantly connected, enterprising music fans saw the new technology as a means to build communities around the bands they loved. From the ancestral analog fanzines came their digital offspring called fan sites. Before co-founding JamBase, Andy Gadiel launched the Phish fan site Andy Gadiel’s Phish Page, which along with Phish.net became essential online destinations for fans of the band.

Over the past two decades, Phish’s popularity grew along with the worldwide web, and many other fan sites have launched (and in some cases shuttered). Countless other fans of countless other bands have also created their own websites in honor of the music and musicians they love. The list below features fan-run websites that were launched in the past two decades dedicated to members of the Grateful Dead, Widespread Panic, Dave Matthews Band, The String Cheese Incident, Wilco, Neil Young, Ween, Pearl Jam and more — including Phish.

Deadheadland

Live music fan Brian Markovitz, aka Happycat, took inspiration from Gadiel’s Phish Page to create a similar site for fans of the Grateful Dead. Deadheadland.com and its social media channels features setlists, videos, photos, news and fan reports from projects featuring members of the Grateful Dead and beyond. The site took off in 2009 when Phil Lesh, Bob Weir, Bill Kreutzmann and Mickey Hart reunited under The Dead moniker. Happycat shared reports on each show either by attending the concerts in person or with help from fans on hand at the performances he couldn’t attend.

“When Furthur began later that year I committed myself to tweet every song by that band in real-time and do full setlist recaps at the end of the night, whether I was there or not,” Markovitz told JamBase. He tweeted nearly all Furthur setlists in real-time and often put together posts for the site. Brian also had a bit of fortuitous timing when he moved to California’s Marin County just as Phil Lesh’s Terrapin Crossroads was opening. Deadlandland.com became one of the premier sites to find out what Phil Lesh and many other acts played at the venue shortly after the concerts ended.

More recently, Markovitz has turned to streaming video from many of the concerts he attends for the Deadheadland Facebook and YouTube pages.

“I am ‘unofficially the semi-official unofficial’ streamer at Terrapin Crossroads,” Happycat added. “When nugs.tv is there, I do not stream. Most of the employees and the Lesh’s seem to be ok with it, and in fact, I am often encouraged by the staff!”

Another recent addition is The Deadheadland Show, an interview and music performance show hosted by Brian. However, the site still remains true to its early days by sharing setlists and videos from shows by Dead & Company, Bob Weir & Wolf Bros., Phil Lesh & Friends and other Grateful Dead-related acts.


RatDog.org

Bob Weir has been perhaps the busiest member of the Grateful Dead when it comes to live performances over the past two decades. While RatDog.org may take its name from Weir’s band that last toured in 2014, the site continues to be a key resource for Bobby fans with setlists from his various projects as well as a message board to discuss the guitarist’ exploits.

Dave Rosenberg first started OtherOnes.net in February 1999 and while that site is still maintained, he turned his focus to RatDog.org the following year. RatDog.org’s comprehensive setlist database goes all the way back to the first RatDog show on April 22, 1995.

The site also features a “Songbook” section detailing every time Weir has performed a specific song since the end of the Grateful Dead and for most tunes includes lyrics. Additionally, RatDog.org hosts a fun “Stats & Stuff” section in which fans can find a list of every musician who made a guest appearance with RatDog, the venues the band performed at most and data-filled lists.


Philzone.com

In the 1994 Grateful Dead guide Skeleton Key: A Dictionary For Deadheads, authors David Shenk and Steve Silberman included “The Phil Zone” among the book’s many entries. They defined the area of a Dead show associated with bassist Phil Lesh as:

The left side of the floor facing the stage, so-called because of the proximity to Lesh’s position onstage. Many longtime Heads are Phil Zone habitues and treasure it as a place for furiously funky dancing.

While The Phil Zone originally was synonymous with Lesh’s home at Dead concerts, for years Deadheads relied on Philzone.com to get their Phil fill. Though it ceased updating a few years back, Philzone.com was — and in many ways still is — the most thorough encyclopedic resource for Lesh’s post-Dead career.

Primarily a setlist repository “because phans want to know,” Philzone launched as a home for Phil Lesh news online on June 17, 1999. In 2002, Philzone won Fan Website Of The Year at the third annual Jammy Awards. Site admins Bret Heisler and Len Tafro accepted the Jammy Award at the ceremony held at New York City’s Roseland Ballroom. Here’s part of their acceptance speech:

On behalf of Bret Heisler, Len Tafro, Jennifer DeVincenzo, Kristen Schneeloch, and Robert Lucente, we are extremely honored and surprised to be accepting this award. First and foremost, we’d like to thank the Phil Lesh & Friends and Jam Fan communities, and especially the Phans – the Zoners for making Philzone.com a frequent visit in cyberspace and your favorite jam band website of the year. It’s not only the site itself, but also the community that has made Philzone.com such a great place to visit! … We’d like to give a big fat Philzone thanks to Mr. Phil Lesh! And all the Phriends for making the music that was the impetus for Philzone.com. And thanks to everyone at Cygnus Productions and the Unbroken Chain Foundation.


Bruuuce.com

Attend just about any Bruce Hornsby performance and you’re certain to hear a deep roar from the audience that to the uninformed my sound like a disapproving “boo.” The crowd isn’t showing its displeasure with the multi-instrumentalist onstage, instead, they’re showing him their affection by collectively calling out “Bruuuce.”

If one was curious about how many extra “u” letters are added when cheering for Hornsby in concert, the answer comes from the fan site Bruuuce.com. British Hornsby fan Si Twining first encountered Bruce’s music when “The Way It Is” was used in 1986 as background music by the BBC’s sports program Grandstand. Years later, just before JamBase’s launch, Si created Bruuuce.com.

In a 2014 interview, Si discussed the genesis of the site:

I got the internet in 1998, and I imagine Bruce was one of the first things I went searching for. I was psyched to see that he had an e-mail newsletter, written by a nice lady named Melissa, and so I signed up to that. There was something called a “newsgroup” where people would discuss live shows they’d be to, or an upcoming record, rumoured to be called “Spirit Trail”.

Everyone seemed like a nice bunch, and so I wondered if they’d indulge me in a burning question:

“What’s your favourite Bruce Hornsby song?”

I had people e-mail me with their favourites, and would report back on a single web page that I set up, catchily named www.users.globalnet.co.uk/~sitwi. (It’s still there).

Soon after, my eyes and ears were opened to a whole network of people who actually recorded Bruce’s concerts – with his permission – and shared them around. I’d spent the last several years poring through Record Collector magazine for any bootlegs for sale of Bruce’s appearances on the King Biscuit Flower Hour, Westwood One etc, and maybe found two a year? Rosemarie Rey offered me some tapes at no cost, to start me off on my trading. What a wonderful community – I wanted to do what I could to help share the music.

Setlists, news, band member information, downloads, photo galleries, tour dates, a wiki and more can found at Bruuuce.com. The site supports charity projects for the ALS Association and the Merlin Centre for Multiple Sclerosis care.


Everyday Companion

Widespread Panic fans can find setlists of the band ranging from their earliest days through the present via fan site Everyday Companion .

Everyday Companion began in 1995 as a book featuring all known WSP setlists that in 1999 was brought to the web. Ted Rockwell and Will Duckworth played a huge role in assembling the database with the help of band and crew members as well as an army of volunteers.

Widespread Panic has welcomed a bevy of guests to share the stage dating back to their start as a band. Everyday Companion contains a list of all guest appearances both by artist and by show. Additionally, lists of every place WSP has played and every time songs have been performed are available as well as a list of teases, raps and jams. The site also includes sections devoted to chords and tabs, lyrics, song histories, discography and timeline.


PanicStream

If Widespread Panic is on the stage, you can bet the setlist is displayed in realtime on PanicStream.com. Curtis George started the site as a repository for live recordings of Widespread Panic shows and devoted space on the home page to keep track of setlists in realtime. Both elements provide a huge resource to the Panic fan community.

Thousands of recordings dating back to 1985 are available for streaming via PanicStream.com. The site also hosts a downloads section containing links to over 1,200 MP3 files. Additionally, a live chat is available, which gets particularly active when Panic is on the road. Curtis uses PanicStream’s social feeds to share links to streams from this date in the band’s history and point out news of note to WSP fans.

“If I’m home, I am working on PanicStream in some form,” Curtis George told Relix in 2018.

While George sells PanicStream merchandise, he has kept third-party advertising off the site.

“It’s about the community,” George said. “I love this band. I love the music and I decided to stay true to that aspect. I feel like I’m contributing something for the benefit of others.”


Prince.org

Prince Rogers Nelson, aka Prince, was an incredibly prolific artist over the course of his lifetime. The Purple One wrote and recorded hundreds of songs and played shows at venues ranging from massive stadiums to his small Paisley Park facility in Minnesota. Prince.org is the premiere fan site devoted to the late musician.

The site evolved out of the PML (the Prince Mailing List) email list and was officially launched on January 1, 1999. While Prince died on April 21, 2016, the site continues its mission of connecting his fans around the world and providing information about the beloved performer.

One of the main elements of Prince.org is its forums for both Prince-related discussion and non-Prince related talk. Fans can chat about the legendary artist’s music and concerts, connect for fan gatherings and sell and trade Prince-related items on “The Marketplace.” There’s also a spot for fans to showcase their own art, podcasts and other content.

Another key resource is a “Princeapedia” portion of the site which uses the same software as Wikipedia to host a complete discography, database of bootlegs, breakdown of concert tours, biography and other information relevant to Prince fans. In addition, a gallery hosts over a thousand images that includes cover art, concert photos, ephemera and more focused on The Purple One.

Ben Margolin is the main administrator behind the scenes at Prince.org who maintains the site with the help of fellow Prince fans. The site is free and Prince fans only need to provide a working email address to create an account.


Phishtracks.com / Phishows.com

Phish’s worldwide popularity grew in the late-1980s and early-1990s in large part due to the sharing of tapes of the band’s live concerts — with trades often facilitated through fan sites. With the rise of digital music in the 2000s, analog tapes were replaced by CDs and later various formats of digital music files like FLACs and MP3s.

For fans of Phish, there are two options online to stream audience recordings of the band’s shows dating back to 1983. Phishows.com and Phishtracks.com are each home to extensive collections of streamable live Phish concert recordings.

Both sites offer the ability to stream individual songs from hundreds of Phish shows that are divided by year. Users can also download tracks from Phishows.com for offline listening as well.


Relisten

Perhaps the next best alternative when you can’t Go See Live Music is listening to a recording of a live show. Even better if you’re relistening to a concert you attended.

The website Relisten brings together the live recordings that are streaming on the Live Music Archive (archive.org), Phish.in and fellow 20 For 20 Fan Site Panicstream. That’s extensive collections of live recordings of Phish, Widespread Panic and the hundreds of bands on the LMA all under one URL roof.

According to the site’s Daniel Saewitz and Alec Gorge, its mission is “to provide you with a simple and powerful experience that you can enjoy in the home or in the rain.” And their open-source platform does just that by providing access to Phish and Widespread Panic tapes, as well as live shows by the likes of:

ALO, Aquarium Rescue Unit, Aqueous, Assembly of Dust, Bela Fleck and the Flecktones, Benevento Russo Duo, Billy Strings, Blues Traveler, Bob Weir, Cabinet, Charlie Hunter, Circles Around The Sun, Club d’Elf, Dark Star Orchestra, Dawes, Dead and Company, Deep Banana Blackout, The Del McCoury Band, the Disco Biscuits, Donna the Buffalo, Dopapod, Drive-By Truckers, ekoostik hookah, Electric Beethoven, Eric Krasno, Everyone Orchestra, Fruition, Furthur, Garaj Mahal, Garcia Peoples, Ghost Light, G. Love and Special Sauce, God Street Wine, Grace Potter, Greensky Bluegrass, Greyboy Allstars, Hard Working Americans, Holly Bowling, Hot Buttered Rum, Infamous Stringdusters, Jackie Greene, Jack Johnson, Jazz Mandolin Project, Jeff Austin BandJoe Russo’s Almost Dead, John Kadlecik, John Mayer, Josh Ritter, Keller Williams, Kung Fu, Leftover Salmon, Lettuce, Little Feat, Lotus, Marco Benevento, Marcus King Band, Max Creek, moe., My Morning Jacket, North Mississippi Allstars, Papadosio, Percy Hill, Perpetual Groove, Phil Lesh and Friends, Pigeons Playing Ping Pong, Railroad Earth, Ratdog, Ryley Walker, STS9, Spafford, Steve Kimock, Strangefolk, The String Cheese Incident, Surprise Me Mr. Davis, TAUK, Tea Leaf Green, Tedeschi Trucks Band, Tenacious D, The Motet, The New Deal, The New Mastersounds, The Other Ones, The War on Drugs, The Werks, The Wood Brothers, Twiddle, Umphrey’s McGee, Vulfpeck, Warren Zevon, Ween, White Denim, Yonder Mountain String Band and Zero — among (if you can believe it) many others.


Phantasy Tour

In September 1999, Paul Glace launched PhantasyPhish.com as a webform for fans to play a game in which they would predict what the band would play. Glace kept stats on the picks that the 356 fans who participated in the Fall Tour 1999 tournament sent in using a database and shared the tallies on his site.

Word of the game spread quickly and soon thousands were entering. While the history stems back to the origins of the game, Phantasy Phish launched a Phish message board in 2001 that became the most active part of the site.

Soon after, Paul changed the name of the site to Phantasy Tour and started adding the game and message boards for other bands. Phantasy Tour also includes a database of setlists for many bands, allowing users to track their stats.

The Disco Biscuits community is particularly active with the largest collection of tDB setlists on the web and over 15,000 followers. Twenty years later, the site is still going strong and features communities for over 240 different bands. However, Phish is still king with 83,194 followers.


Brownbase

Ween enthusiasts can track the happenings of the band via Brownbase.org. Home of all things brown, the site posts the latest Ween information, with a focus on setlists.

Brownbase regularly posts the band’s latest setlists, which get added to the site’s ever-expanding database of setlist statistics. Each show’s setlist gets broken down to track each song’s last time played, shows since last performance and total times played. There’s also a breakdown of which album each song played came from, what year each song debuted and several other stats.

Brownbase also tracks setlist info for the band’s side projects like The Dean Ween Group, Freeman, Gene Ween, Jimmy Wilson Group and Moistboyz. Users can create profiles to track their stats and personalize their onsite experience.

The homepage includes a This Day In Ween History section and another for the latest recordings when they surface online. Past setlists are regularly updated as is the news section and upcoming tour date listings.


DMBAlamanc

Webster’s defines “almanac” as “a usually annual publication containing statistical, tabular, and general information.” The DMBAlamanac is the online source of statistical setlist information and other general information about the Dave Matthews Band and related projects.

The site catalogs many aspects of shows and also compiles lists of guests, song slots, song charts and “liberations” (what we call bust outs) along with other aspects of DMB shows. Here’s how the site describes its formation and purpose:

The DMB Almanac is the product of the combined work of Matías Niño’s programming and design, Rob Bokon’s data collection and taste for colors, Henry Hart’s meticulous research, both Andy Bouwman and Dan Cheatham’s administrative labor, and Bob Haag’s cultured wisdom. The original site was founded in 2001 by Rob Bokon as part of justdmb.com. In 2002, Matías Niño converted the site into a fully automated database-driven web application.

The Almanac is indebted to all of those that have dedicated and continue to dedicate time and/or money to help make the almanac one of the most comprehensive and complete tour information databases of any band in live music history. Also, this site would not have gotten off the ground in 2002 if it wasn’t for the information contained in pre-established sites like AntsMarching.org, Nancies.org, and the Setlist Warehouse.


Live Footsteps

One of the prevailing components of a successful fan site is the ability to inform a passionate fanbase. If there aren’t rabid fans clamoring to know each note played by a band there subsequently isn’t much need to keep meticulous track of those notes.

Pearl Jam fans no doubt fall squarely in the “passionate” category. Around the globe, the Seattle-born godfathers of grunge are revered for their recorded work and just as equally for their live performances.

Those passionate fans have had to wait (and continue to wait) for more than a year as it’s been 13 months since Eddie Vedder, Stone Gossard, Mike McCready, Jeff Ament and Mike Cameron shared the live stage together. Once the band does return to the stage, it will no doubt be meticulously notated by Livefootsteps.org.

Like many of the setlist repositories making this list, Livefootsteps presents a variety of statistics related to Pearl Jam’s live shows. Inspired by fellow 20 For 20 Fan Site entry DMBAlmanac, Pearl Jam fans Brian and Dave JanTausch founded Livefootsteps. The site’s “About” section states:

Our goal with this site is to provide Pearl Jam fans fun statistical information on the band’s live shows. This site grew out of our love for Pearl Jam’s ability to continually run out new setlists each night and occasionally pulling out a song they hadn’t played in years. The inspiration for this site came from the best band specific setlist site in the world, DMBAlmanac.com. We can only hope to be half the site they are one day!

We plan on growing this site in our free time, but we do have day jobs so please be patient. If you have feedback, or notice an error, please let us know. Setlists for the many of the early shows are missing, but we’ll continue to fill in what we can as we have time.


Via Chicago

With the rise in popularity of social media and Reddit, the fan forum has found competition for where and how fans share information with each other. Facebook groups and Sub Reddits are often the current online gathering places for like-minded music lovers. But for some bands and for some websites, the fan forum remains a central meeting place on the internet.

Wilco fans converage at the fan site Via Chicago. The forum-driven website boasts over 19,350 registered members who have posted over 810,000 times.

Via Chicago is broken down into sections containing issue-specific forums featuring Wilco-centric titles. There’s the “ELT” section with sub-forums “Just A Fan” (Topics related to Wilco’s music), “Someone Else’s Song” (Non-Wilco related music posts), “Tongue-Tied Lightning” (General Non-Music topics unrelated to Wilco), “After The Show” (Reviews, setlists, & discussion of live shows) “How to Fight Loneliness – Need Tickets?, Got Extras?” (Buying, selling, and trading of extra tickets NO SCALPING ALLOWED) and “Speakers Speaking In Code” (Problems with this site/forums?).

The “Greatest Lost Track of All Time” section contains the sub-forums “Reflecting Off Of Your CD” (Do some old school trading/B+Ps here) and “In a Future Age Announcements, Need Help?, Requests / Re-seed Requests” (Discussion & posting of audio/video torrents).

Another section, “Short On Long Term Goals” has the sub-forums “Solid State Technology” (Play music? Discuss gear, techniques, tips, etc. here), “Lyrics and Tabs” (Post your Wilco Lyric/Tabs) and “VC Tribute Projects” (Guidelines: Participation & Submission, Previous VC Tributes & Discussions — All the VC Tribute Projects info, incl. Tribute #3).

While the non-Wilco focused “Tongue-Tied Lightning” and “Someone Else’s Song” boards boasts the most posts, the “After The Show” board regularly hosts some of the most in-depth reviews and well-informed recaps of live Wilco shows that can be found online.


Sugar Mountain

While Neil Young has gone to great lengths in recent years to lock down his official online presence with his Archives website, a fan-run site is an essential companion to Young’s home on the web. Sugar Mountain is the essential resource for all things having to do with Neil Young’s live performances.

Re-created to be database driven in 2008, Sugar Mountain maintains a robust collection of Neil Young setlist information dating back to April 1966. The site hosts information on 2,350+ setlists and 860+ unique songs the legendary musician has played over his historic career. There’s a daily updated this day in Neil Young history “Journey Through The Past” section among the wide range of Young-centric analysis available on site.

The site allows users to view information broken down by the various band’s Young has played in (and with) like Buffalo Springfield, Crazy Horse and others. Part of Sugar Mountain’s stats are details of many of those project’s lineup and personnel changes. Users can also create profiles to track their personal stats.

Here’s more on Sugar Mountain from founder Tom Hambleton:

I’ve been a huge Neil fan since the early ’70s. My first Neil related album was Déjà Vu – “Country Girl” was a life-changer. My first show was Neil Young & Crazy Horse at the Berkeley Community Theatre in 1976. I live in the San Francisco Bay Area so I have been lucky enough to see many special Neil Young shows over the years. In the ‘80s I first found other Neil fans via the Broken Arrow fanzine in the mid-’80s. In the late-‘80s, I started tape trading and in the early-’90s I joined one of the first Neil related email lists called rust@death.

I created Sugar Mountain in 1996 mostly because I got tired of manually writing or typing out setlists that went along with my tape trades. I thought if it were all online I wouldn’t have to do that anymore. But there was no Neil Young setlist site at the time. I also just wanted to see all the setlists for my own interest. “What was played when?” is just how I am wired. I remembered a multi-issue feature in Broken Arrow in the early-’90s called “A Concert Chronology” by Tim Burgin which listed many setlists – I poured over those pages. I was also fascinated by the emerging worldwide web in the ’90s and was looking for a project to help me learn how to create a website.

Olof Bjorner, a huge Bob Dylan chronicler, had created a great tour chronology which gave me a great start on the show dates. I then hit up my tape trading and selected Rust list friends for information. They were all very cooperative. One trader had a setlist document already started, which he generously sent me on floppy disk. Although there was never an official team, I had many very, very generous volunteers who were interested in the site and just kept helping me. I am forever grateful for all that assistance. To this day, after each show, I almost immediately receive several copies of that night’s setlist from a loyal crew of friends, fans and first-time submitters.

At the same time Pete Long came out with the first edition of his brilliant Ghosts On The Road book containing all of Neil Young’s known setlists and more. It was a proper meticulously researched and scholarly book that he had been working on for many years. He had some cooperation from Neil’s people, which meant that the book had many more setlists than those found in our traded tapes. I sent Pete an old-fashioned letter and we came to an understanding on how I could reference his book without my simply copying it to the web. I have always been very thankful for his generous assistance and cooperation.

I learned the necessary web skills as I went along. Everything was hand-coded by me – I didn’t use an HTML editor and originally there was no underlying database. Each setlist was a different HTML page. I came up with the name one day while looking through song titles and lyrics for a place name. “Ah – ‘Sugar Mountain’ – that’s perfect.” I am still very proud of that.

As the years have passed, I have updated the site and added features mostly at the request of users and friends. The entire site was re-created to be database driven in 2008 with some initial assistance by the Wilco setlist site administrator. I added a feature called mysugarmtn in 2009 to track the Neil shows you have attended; and more recently I updated the site to be more mobile-friendly. Almost 50% of my users are now on some sort of portable device. I continue to get corrections and updates from users.


Friends Of Cheese

Friends Of Cheese “is a fan-based resource, providing setlists, photos, streaming music, news, and more for fans of The String Cheese Incident.” Founded in 2000, FOC was “conceived, designed, developed” by Colorado-based photographer Mitch Kline.

Friends Of Cheese contains over 330 individual song pages that track live debuts and last time played. Lyrics are featured on many of the pages as well. Tour dates and some live playlists can also be found at FOC.

In 2010, Kline teamed with Conscience Alliance to launch Prints For A Cause.


November Blue

In January 2002, The Avett Brothers recorded their debut album Country Was that contained the track “November Blue.” A follow-up to the Scott Avett-sung tune entitled “Denouncing November Blue (Uneasy Writer)” appeared on their 2006 album, Four Thieves Gone: The Robbinsville Sessions (the “Uneasy Writer” was in reference to Charlie Daniels’ “Uneasy Rider,” which sounded similarly to The Avetts’ song and was given songwriting credit after the fact).

In December 2016, Paul Oehler created a fan site for The Avett Brothers and named it November Blue. As the site’s About section explains:

Diehard fans of The Avett Brothers tend to go to a lot of live shows. A pastime for many is keeping track of what shows they have attended, and what songs they’ve seen performed live, and when. This site helps users keep track of that information very easily, and share it if they like.

Beyond that, it can act as a repository of interesting notes about Avett Brothers shows and songs, and links to video performances from shows.

November Blue is administered, maintained, and developed by Oehler and Tim Mossberger. Mossberger also provided historic show and setlist data found on the site.

Setlist pages feature the songs played at each show broken down by album (in pie chart format) along with photos and videos from the show and a notes section, which users can submit to. Individual song pages track debut dates, most recently played dates and total number of performances, which gets shown in a bar graph displaying yearly tallies.


The Shack Project/MMWHistory

The “project” the gives The Shack Project its name is the pursuit of “sharing and archiving all known Medeski Martin & Wood live shows.” Launched in its current form in 2014, TSP is the “unofficial archive of the band’s musical history providing free live downloads and streaming for those who care to dig the grooves.”

Regarding “shack” component of its name, the site’s FAQ states:

What is “The Shack”? Why “The Shack Project”?

The Shack is both a literal and figurative place. MMW have been known to retreat to a literal Shack in Hawaii to stretch their musical muscles and expand that territory. There is also an NYC-area studio they use called Shacklyn. These literal Shacks have thus prompted the band to bring their SHACK PARTY vibe out on the road from time to time, which has resulted in some shows featuring stunning improvisation. And so, the band likes to Shack, which has now become a term referring to the band’s penchant for live improvisation.

And so, The Shack Project was born to circulate those moments of Shacking, whether they happen inside a tune or way outside.

Recordings in various formats are digitally stored at The Shack Project. Many MMW shows dating from 1993 to the present can be streamed or downloaded through TSP.

The Shack Project also maintains the data hosted on the Medeski, Martin & Wood setlist repository MMWHistory.com. According to MMWHistory, the site’s 1988-2019 totals include hosting +3,830 performances — of which 1,960 are recorded amassing +2,970 hours of live MMW.


Spaffnerds

With a database of over 550 shows, Spaffnerds.com is a key resource for fans of Arizona-based jam quartet Spafford. Each entry includes the setlist, available recordings and a list of members of the “Nerd Herd” in attendance. Setlists are posted quickly after nearly all concerts with users able to click on song titles for detailed stats on the tune’s history and in many cases lyrics.

Spaffnerds also hosts a forum where the band’s followers can discuss all things Spafford, coordinate taping efforts, share streams, sell merchandise and post guitar tabs for the group’s songs. Additionally, a blog features articles about the four-piece.

Those who create profiles on the site can send messages directly to other members of the “Nerd Herd,” track their stats and submit recordings.


Phish Thoughts

Timing is everything that much I know

Phish fan Dave Calarco launched PhishThoughts.com as a portal to share his musings about the band in the summer 2008. The site quickly became popular among fans thanks to Dave’s creative descriptions of the quartet’s music, knowledge of their past shows and passion for Phish.

Calarco wrote under the pseudonym “Mr. Miner,” which he first used to review Phish’s tour of Japan for JamBase in 2000. Phish announced they would reunite following a five-year breakup just months after Dave started PhishThoughts.com and readership on the site skyrocketed when he posted writeups of the band’s first shows back in March 2009 shortly after the band left the stage.

Calarco attended each concert the band played during the first few years of the reunion and wrote highly-detailed articles about the shows. Fans would anxiously await his reviews and the writeups would spark discussions on various message boards, the comments section of his own site as well as on Twitter and Facebook. Dave authored hundreds of articles between 2008 and 2011 when the massive Mr. Miner’s Phish Thoughts: An Anthology By A Fan For The Fans book was published. The 650+ page tome collected not only his analysis of shows from 2009 – 2011 but also his take on concerts from Phish history.

The popularity of the comments section on Phish Thoughts posts was a wonderful surprise for Calarco. Dave shared his take on the community that formed on the “Black Board”:

Despite the enjoyment my writing brought me, and the coffee table anthology that I published, by far the coolest thing to come from my blog is the community of people that formed around it. From the early days, a group of regulars used the comment section of the blog as a place to discuss my writing, but it soon became a place to discuss Phish at large, all types of music, and life in general. Personalities and then relationships began to form online. As time passed, more and more people came on board, increasing the size of the Black Board community (named for the black background of the blog).

Before long, people who had come to know each other virtually were meeting up at shows, hanging out in real life, and forming true, long-lasting friendships. These guys and girls have grown really close over the years and have formed a lasting Phish crew, and sub crews, of their own. I have met several people through the site who I’ve become friends with, but the community of people outside of myself is the lasting legacy of Phish Thoughts in my mind. Just this past summer, I received a photo of 40 plus people who have made it a tradition to meet up at one of their properties in Vermont each June for a weekend of music, hanging and partying. This year was the Black Board 10 Year Anniversary party, and one of the guys even had his wedding up there! It’s amazing what has transpired around my labor of love.

The comments section has remained active though Calarco rarely posts new articles these days.

“Part of this is a reflection of being less analytical regarding Phish in general, and part of it is that it was incredibly time-consuming while on tour,” Dave explained of his decision to step away from reviewing every show. “I was truly burning the candle at both ends — and in the middle — for years on end. I don’t see every show at this point, and therefore, I enjoy having more time to be with friends and relax. Who knows what the future will bring, but for now, Phish Thoughts is in a dormant stage of its life.”