BATTLE OF THE JAMBANDS:
My Band Can Beat Up Your Band!
By: Brett B.
Recently while watching TMZ, they happened to show a “street brawl” between two LA hair bands outside of a club. Now, by “street brawl” I mean 6 skinny guys with a combined weight of probably 400 pounds slapping at each other, so as to not mess up their hair and make-up. Not exactly a scene from FIGHT CLUB, if you know what I mean.
So, this of course brought to mind the incident years ago when Jack White of The White Stripes beat up Jason Stollsteimer of The Von Bondies over Stollsteimer’s badmouthing Jack behind his back. Who can forget the photos of the Von Bondie’s bloodied and bruised face posted next to a picture of a smirking Jack White. Now you might say to yourself “Jack White? That pale faced thin guy who looks like he can barely bench press the guitars he plays?” Yes. That Jack White. But as anyone who has ever fought will tell you: It’s the little guy you have to worry about. Small guys always have something to prove. I would rather go up against someone bigger than me than someone smaller than me every time. You ever see a little scrawny guy go off in a bar fight? They look like spider monkeys on PCP.
Which makes me wonder, amongst the artists and bands in the jam scene …. Who’s the toughest? Now we all know that the jam band scene is the epitome of peace and love and good vibes but let’s just say hypothetically that someone really got pissed off at Bonnaroo and blows were thrown. Who would be left standing when the dust settled?
Amongst the old school jammers (Or as I refer to them O.J.’s “Original Jammers”) my two favorite contenders would be Widespread Panic and Gov’t Mule. To me there has always been something about John Bell that makes me feel that when goes off things could get ugly. There seems to be an underlying sense that he could put a real hurtin’ on someone if he took a mind to do so. And Dave Schools is the last person you would want to get you down on the ground in a full body press. I also have no doubt that Jimmy Herring and John ‘JoJo’ Hermann would be pretty decent back-up if the shit ever hit the fan, as well.
Now in Gov’t Mule you have a triple threat. (The jury is still out on Jorgen Carlsson). In this corner you have Warren “Big Daddy” Haynes. The Jerry Lawler of music. Don’t let Warren’s girth fool you. The man is a solid barrel of guitar playing fury which would translate into some major damage in a brawl. Not to mention the fact that he is a pretty tough cookie in real life. Matt Abts, Mule’s drummer, has always reminded me of Mickey Rourke. Kind of cool and dangerous. You know he would be smiling serenely as he stomped you in an bar fight. And Danny Louis? There is just something about him that makes me feel he’d make a great hitman.
Honorable O.J. mention would have to go the boys in Blues Traveler. When John Popper got pulled over a few years ago in that SUV doing over a hundred miles per hour and the cops found hidden compartments with 4 rifles, 9 handguns, a switchblade knife and a Tazer, you just knew this guy was just praying for something to happen.
The Black Crowes definitely would score high in the Potential To Kick Major Ass Department despite Mr. Robinson’s proclivity for smoking herb. The tension that has existed between Chris and Rich would have no problem being vented against anyone dumb enough to mess with the Robinson brothers. Nothing says “If I have no problem beating the shit out of a sibling, I will definitely enjoy kicking YOUR ass!” like the love between 2 brothers in the same band. Just ask the Galaghers of Oasis and the Davies of The Kinks.
I once saw Patterson Hood of The Drive-By Truckers polish off close to 10 shots of Jack Daniels while onstage. Trust me: If you can drink JD like that and still put on one of the best shows out there today, you will have no trouble getting into a back alley fight after the show. Not to mention, the guys in DBT all look like they have a straight razor in their boots. Hell, the female bass player in the Truckers could probably do some major damage, as well.
And speaking of women, and certainly not to be sexist, what woman out there in the scene is the biggest badass? I’d put my money on Grace Potter. Aside from the fact that she is a rock and roll party machine. Aside from the fact that she is one of the most beautiful women in music today. Grace P. is one tough cookie. So, don’t let that sweet smile and gorgeous red hair fool you. If there was any one female that could lay the smackdown on you, it’s her.
Finally, the two toughest individual artists out there playing great music that you would be a fool to cross? Up first, Alejandro Escovedo. Alejandro has the pedigree to be a dangerous mofo. Started off in one of the first California punk bands, The Nuns. Went on to play in some the coolest and down and dirty bar bands ever (Rank & File and True Believers). And the final confirmation: He played in True Believers with his brother, Javier. Two brothers of Mexican descent in the same bar band? It is amazing that they are both still alive.
But without a doubt the toughest, baddest, man most likely to hurt you so bad even your mama wouldn’t recognize you afterwards would have to be one Mr. Karl Denson. I had the pleasure of being in the ship gym a few years ago on Jam Cruise and let me tell you something. The man works out like he plays the saxophone. With a vengeance! Karl D is one of those guys that you would pray that the first blow would kill you or at least knock you out so you wouldn’t have to feel the following blows.
In closing, we all know fighting is bad. No one ever likes to see anyone get hit or hurt. But on the off chance I am ever jumped out back of a club after a show, I just hope that it’s Grace Potter that leaps off that tour bus Flying V guitar a swingin’ to come to my defense.