It wasn't jambands that introduced me to the music of J.J. Cale, I (like most people) have Eric Clapton to thank for that. But it certainly was the jambands who reinforced just how deep and impressive his catalog is, and totally ingrained just how cool the man was. We lost a great one when Cale passed away on Saturday, but he leaves behind a great legacy of his own music and a ton of inspiration for the bands who took that music and crafted it into something of their own.
Here's a mix of J.J. Cale tunes given the once over by some of my favorite jambands.
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You've got to be pretty damn cool to be on Jerry Garcia's radar. Yes, J.J. you made the list. Here's a wild, majestic version of "After Midnight" (with a little "Eleanor Rigby" for fun) by the Jerry Garcia Band.
Widespread Panic has embraced J.J. Cale so much and for so lonng, his tunes have become veritable staples in their repertoire on par with some of their classic originals. The quintessential cut, of course, is "Travelin' Light", here's a Mikey-era version from Chicago with David Blackmon on fiddle.
Assembly Of Dust really captures that unique Cale cadence on their version of "Cajun Moon"; a bit of what J.J. might have sounded like with sweeter vocals.
Phish flirted with incorporating a Mike Gordon led cover of Cale's "Ain't Love Funny" into their shows, which sadly disappeared after only a few outings in the late nineties. Here's a nice version from Alpine 97.
Tom Petty has actually been a sometime collaborator with Cale. He and the Heartbreakers have a jamband-like take on his signature tune: "Call Me The Breeze". It's got a nice a funky middle section that jam fans will enjoy.
What is it about "If You're Ever In Oklahoma" that makes bluegrass inspired jambands sit up in their seats and cover it. Whatever the reason, Yonder Mountain String band has played it frequently, but I prefer this rollicking Leftover Salmon version (though only by a hair).
Gosh I miss The Radiators. Not only for their swampy NOLA originals, but also because they could put such a great, emotive spin on covers, like this version of "Magnolia".
Here's a nice rarity. Good for New Monsoon, for picking out this unsung Cale tune and dropping casually into their set. "One Step Ahead Of The Blues"
A helluva drug. Umphrey's McGee knocks"Cocaine" out of the park at one of their All Night Wrong sets in 2012, finding a jazzy voice in there that I don't even thing its late, great author could have imagined.
The aforementioned Widespread Panic always gets so damn filthy on their cover of "Ride Me High". This 16 minute version from Chicago 2009 features Jimmy Herring trading licks with Derek Trucks. Mercy!
Bonus Track: I try not to repeat tracks in these compilations, so I'll tack on Phish's NYE 2010 take of "After Midnight" as a bonus. Trey does the needful and does J.J. (and EC for that matter) proud.
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