A number of intriguing collaborations highlighted the fifth annual Jammy Awards, held last night (April 26) at New York's Theatre at Madison Square Garden.
A number of intriguing collaborations highlighted the fifth annual Jammy Awards, held last night (April 26) at New York's Theatre at Madison Square Garden. The finale was powered by an all-star jam on Bob Marley's "Lively up Yourself" and Jimi Hendrix's "Crosstown Traffic" that featured Medeski Martin & Wood, Burning Spear, the Roots' ?uestlove, the Antibalas Horns, North Mississippi Allstars guitarist Luther Dickinson and Sinead O'Connor, among others.
The Allstars kicked the show off teaming with Mavis Staples for the Staples Singers' "Freedom Highway" and Lifetime Achievement Award honoree Buddy Guy for "Got My Mojo Workin'." Guy, who was recently inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, thanked trailblazers such as Jimmy Reed and T-Bone Walker in his brief speech: "I know they're looking down saying, 'Get it, Buddy! Get it!' I got it!"
Bruce Hornsby and the Yonder Mountain String Band paired for Hornsby's "Valley Road" and Bill Monroe's "Darling Corey," before Guy returned to raise the roof with John Mayer on guitar, Jammys host Phil Lesh on bass and ?uestlove on drums. The impromptu quartet tore through "Hoochie Coochie Man" and B.B. King's "Rock Me Baby," featuring furious guitar jamming from Guy and Mayer.
In a more unusual pairing, Huey Lewis joined song of the year winner Umphrey's McGee ("In the Kitchen") for the Blues Brothers-popularized "She Caught the Katy" and Lewis and the News' "Heart & Soul." Staples returned to lead a cover the Band's "The Weight" and the Staple Singers' immortal "I'll Take You There," with added vocalizing from O'Connor.
Things got more musically interesting from there, as Keller Williams and Nellie McKay offered up Bob Dylan's "Rainy Day Women #12 & 35" and Ryan Adams and his band secured Lesh for a nearly 15-minute version of the Grateful Dead's "Wharf Rat." Lesh returned later to join former Phish bassist Mike Gordon, Primus' Les Claypool (in a pig mask), New Groove award winner Benevento/Russo Duo and Gabby La La for a jam on Claypool's "D's Diner."
Earlier in the evening, Gordon accepted Phish's tour of the year award by admitting, "I myself had a great time on the summer  tour," which was the band's last. "It just goes to prove my old theory that we probably had a couple of decades left in us."
The penultimate segment was one of the evening's best, with Medeski Martin & Wood and the Antibalas Horns backing O'Connor and Spear on four Spear tunes: "Door Peep," "Marcus Garvey," a chilling a cappella version of "Jah No Dead" and "He Prayed."
"This was totally awesome," ?uestlove told Billboard.com backstage. "I told myself, the way to enjoy this is to program my brain to have diminished expectations. But it was hard to have that! I was nervous but I loosened up and just had fun."
Here are the 2005 Jammy Awards winners:
Song of the year: "In the Kitchen," Umphrey's McGee
Lifetime achievement award: Buddy Guy
New Groove award: Benevento/Russo Duo
Tour of the year: Phish, summer 2004
Download of the year: the Dead, Bonnaroo Festival 2004
DVD of the year: "IT," Phish
Archival live album of the year: "After Midnight," Jerry Garcia Band
Mimi Fishman award: Andy Bernstein
Studio album of the year: "Deja Voodoo," Gov't Mule
Live album of the year: "Stage," Keller Williams
Live performance of the year: Phil Lesh and Friends, San Francisco, Dec. 19, 2004