After a few days of exploring Amsterdam, too many coffee shops and a couple museums… we were finally treated to the music we traveled across the ocean for: five US jam bands, each taking one of two stages to rock the Melkweg for three consecutive nights as part of Jam in the Dam.
And jam they did. Lotus opened the festival on the Max Hall stage in the big room as fans filtered in and greeted one another with high-fives, hugs, and kisses on both cheeks. Electronica and deep bass waves combined with wafts of smoke openly filled the air while the relaxed and chill opening night vibes spilled out into the Melkweg café – a popular eatery attached to the venue and run by Mary Jo from Wisconsin. Plenty were already in the mood to start to groove.
Meanwhile during Lotus’s set, Keller Williams took the Old Hall stage in the smaller, more intimately-sized room by taking requests. Playing some of his more famous tunes like “Kidney in a Cooler” and a dream about the Price Is Right called “Bob Rules!” Keller was later joined by Dark Star Orchestra to close his set with a song the Jerry Garcia Band used to cover, “Don’t Let Go.”
Right on time, Mike Gordon Band took over for Lotus in the Max Hall in a different formation than usual. Both drummer Todd Isler, and percussionist Craig Myers were behind Gordon, and keyboardist Tom Cleary flanked Mike on his left, leaving Scott Murawski in his usual spot as Mike’s right-hand man.
Mike’s show opened with “Horizon Line” with the band leaving plenty of room to explore the tune. There was a brief hello from Mike and a mention that he was happy to be visiting this galaxy once again. Tom Cleary took us to another place by stretching and expanding time with a cover of The Band’s “Don’t Do It.” Though “Cities” was on the set list, the band was pressed for time and it didn’t make the cut – but there was one really notable cover of the 1972 Jim Croce hit, “You Don’t Mess Around With Jim” played for the first time ever, in addition to Little Feat’s “Sailin’ Shoes.” Mike Gordon Band closed the set with “Idea.”
Rocking out the final set of music on the Max Hall stage was moe. who opened with the instrumental “ZOZ” and segued into “Bearsong” and then “Billy Goat” and circled back in a surprise reprise of both “Bearsong” and “ZOZ.” The set slowed down with the country-ish tune, “Can’t Seem To Find” and “Haze” from the new album to the mid-tempo vibe of Chuck’s first tune for the night, “Where Does The Time Go?” Switching into full-on jam mode, moe. brought the dance party down front for “George” which took up most of the band’s set. Closing out the set was the fan favorite jam staple “Timmy Tucker.”
Look forward to night two’s recap coming later. But first, a smoke of Blue Cheese from the Green Place and a late night stop at Barney’s Uptown to smoke the 2011 Cannabis Cup winner, Liberty Haze.
Mike Gordon Band in Amsterdam: