Music Makes the People Come Together, Yeah!

Growing up, I was constantly submerged in music. I took guitar lessons, taught myself the organ, sang in choir and was always a part of school musicals. But when the innocence of church hymns and lullaby chords wore off, it was rock and roll that I resorted to. My father would play the classic rock station in the car relentlessly, and during the summer he would have it turned up on the deck radio loud enough to make the neighbors hate us.

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Music is universal; it is a magical healer and a huge part of my life. I typically do not discriminate against any one genre. Although I used to, I am now open to just about anything and that includes country. I have the great ability to switch from Taylor Swift, to Blink 182, to the Doors to old 90′s pop without thinking twice.

Second row at John Mayer in 2010

Towards the end of last year (2011), I started to form a great dislike towards rap music for the first time. I gave it a chance for so long, but I find that where I am in my life now, hip-hop does not fit. I cannot relate to any of it. In its place, I have found myself listening to more of a funk, bluegrass type of rock and roll. Yeah, one extreme to another, I know. I will never give up on my alternative rock, as that will always be my favorite type of music …oh yeah, I am talking Paramore, Incubus, Foo Fighters, and the Red Hot Chili Peppers. But not too long ago, I saw the light, I guess you could say. I am now pretty much obsessed with new (but old) bands.  

So to properly ring in 2012 at sarah On The Go, I would like to talk about what gets us all in the mood; the mood to feel happy, to want to dance, to think deeply, to simply smile over. My new-found love for particular jam bands holds its weight. It is not just the tunes that are appealing, it is the idea that this type of music can bring understanding, a sense of common ground and unity.

Muse concert at MSG in NYC, 2010

After attending my first Gathering of the Vibes festival in 2010, I noticed a bit of change in myself. It was not at all like I had expected. High maintenance hairdo’s and freshly manicured nails were not going to make it through the day. The heat was grueling but the summer breeze was crisp coming in from Long Island Sound. The people were naturally friendly and it felt good to be at a place where we all held the common goal to have fun through music.

Gathering of the Vibes, if you are not familiar, is a concert festival that is going on its 17th year, with previous acts such as the Allman Brothers, Crosby Stills and Nash, James Brown, Jane’s Addiction and Primus. This summer, Vibes will be in my hometown of Bridgeport, Connecticut for the eighth time. It is an excuse to get dirty, feel free, get out of your mind (in whatever way you choose) and of course, listen to some rockin’ music.

I have been fortunate enough to see Furthur, with Phil Lesh and Bob Weir of the Grateful Dead, four times. As they normally headline Vibes, I am most looking forward to seeing them at Seaside Park this summer. The cool thing? I get to warm up this April when they come to the Beacon Theatre in New York. The cooler part? They are also playing in a city 30-minutes away from me following their NYC acts. Their music has become infectious. I feel good when I listen to it and it brings me back down to Earth.

Bob Weir of Furthur & the Dead in early 2011

So, do you want to know another band that has taken the reigns on my iPod playlist? Phish.

The four-member band from Vermont has played together for over 20 years, and I am just realizing the awesomeness in their music. Well, granted I am only 24 years-old, but still. I never gave them a chance until recently. I had seen them in June of 2010, but spent my time mindlessly wandering around the venue. Over a year later, I am a total fan. I was able to make the New Years Eve run at Madison Square Garden in New York City this past week, and it kicked ass. The loyalty of their fans is unprecedented. Phish ultimately puts on a killer show… a party, a type of celebration. My body is still sore from dancing. Oh, there aint no place in the world to see a concert quite like Madison Square Garden!

Back in September when myself and a friend road tripped up to Catskill Chill Music Festival in New York, I remember not having an ounce of service. I mean, you could walk for a mile with your phone up to the sky and the bars on that baby will not budge. I freaked for all of twenty seconds and then felt relief. Being in the valley of the mountains was too beautiful to let some cell phone disturb it all. I found myself changing. I felt that normally I would be crying or throwing a tantrum in the car. I was sickening at times. Well, it was there that I fell in love with Zach Deputy. The South Carolina native is a one-man band and will make you seriously move. Check out his one of his songs right here from Wormtown Festival in 2009. I am telling you it is worth a listen.

So with my warranted appreciation for the Dead and Phish comes a lot of love and respect to the smaller bands out there. I have done my best to hit up local venues and will continue to do so throughout the month of January. I will be adding events to the calendar on my homepage as they come about, so be sure to check back every so often, especially if you live in my area and need some ideas. 

Phish, December 2011

I urge you all to try a festival of some sort in you area. Of course, we will have to wait until summer but until then get to downloading. The Spotify music application for your computer and phone has amazed me lately. You are able to put in an artist and stream any of their albums in full. The best part about Spotify is that if you want to discover new music, click “Related Artists” after typing in a band you enjoy and test out some similar acts.

With my declaration of jam band addiction fully written out, and as I am at the point of no return, I want to throw out three bands that I listen to on the daily that I want you to try this year.


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Pregaming before Phish, June 2010

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Kings of Leon

They may have a reputation for being divas, but their music deflects those accusations within the first minute of playing a track. The band of brothers have a way of swooning you into feeling sexual, dirty and provokes trouble-making in all the best ways possible. Lead singer Caleb Followill’s voice is smoldering and their latest album Come Around Sundown is too good to ignore. Click here to listen to my favorite song from their 2007 album Because of the Times entitled “Knocked Up.”

The Black Keys

Here, here to rock and roll 2012! The Black Keys are an Ohio based duo that rips on the guitar when need be and keeps your arms up in the air. I know because I air guitar in my room to El Camino on the daily. Hip-hip hooray for their American tour this year that I am scraping up change to see. They have been selling albums like Pez to a 10 year-old Sarah. Their latest single “Lonely Boy” rocks satellite radio playlists and is slowly creeping its way those dumb mainstream FM stations. Catch the fever, people. Click here to take a listen.

Foster the People

Often compared to the rock group MGMT, this indie band from Los Angeles is much better. My opinion, of course! Foster the People hit it big with their poppy hit “Pumped Up Kicks” but switch off the radio and pick up Torches. Not only are these three boys attractive as all hell, but their ability to lure you in with a catchy but not too typical pop punk beat is refreshing. Their second release off the first album, “Helena Beat” is motivating, uplifting and dance-worthy. Click here to listen to it now.

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Who do you listen to? Which bands am I missing out on? I want to know.

Whatever music gets you on your toes, keeps your fingers snapping… makes you feel, embrace! I know the outside world (aka work) keeps you from traveling the country in a Volkswagen shaggin’ wagon to see all your favorite artists on tour, but try to make time every once in a while to listen to some live tunes.

Music is what keeps most of us going on the regular. It is in the background of all of my troubles and successes; readily available when I am looking to be cheered up, and it grants me room to vent and sulk if the times call for it. After all music has done for us, we deserve to give it all a chance at least once. You definitely do not have to like it, but you may never know when you will be hooked.

Happy Tuesday, all!