Recently I’ve heard Archive.org name dropped by a few friends of mine, especially in regard to their live music archive. I checked it out, and I can say that I’m very impressed. For a long time lots of bands, mostly of the jam band variety, have allowed for fans to tape their live shows and trade them. Archive.org’s Live Music Archive just provides a good clearinghouse for all of these files. The files are only from artists who have given the ok for them to be posted, and they allow any band to opt out if they want. Much of this work has been done by eTree already, but Archive.org provides much better UI then the esoteric eTree community.
A big bonus for me it that the files are provided in lossless formats (SHN or FLAC) instead of lossy formats like MP3. I can’t call myself a huge audio snob, but MP3s do seem to be missing a bit of *ommmph* to me compared with CD audio. While almost all the bands are jam bands of some sort, there is still a very interesting range of musical styles. Below are some of my favorites that I’ve pulled from the site.
Mutual Admiration Society – This band is a funky combo of the bluegrass band Nickel Creek, former Toad the Wet Sprocket frontman Glen Phillips and ex-Led Zeppelin bass player John Paul Jones. Check out this concert for instrumental virtuosity, insightful lyrics and an excellent recording job.
Ryan Adams – One of the starters of the current alt-country surge. I enjoy both his older, quieter music and his newer, more rocking numbers. The only downside is Adams' rambling on-stage dialog, perhaps some people find it endearing, but it just bugs me.
Bela Fleck and the Flecktones – The Flecktones are another band that is difficult to fit into a normal genre. The Flecktones play jazz-fusion tunes, lead by Bela Fleck on the banjo and Victor Wooten (arguably the world’s best bass player) on the bass. Check out a great recording (from on-stage mics) here.
Soul Coughing – You might know them from the radio song “Circles.” But they have a bunch of other great songs. Check out Moon Sammy, Super Bon Bon and Janine on this show.
Robert Randolph and the Family Band – Randolph has gained a lot of attention recently for his pedal steel guitar playing, appearing on the cover of Guitar Player and at Eric Clapton’s Crossroads guitar festival. Check out the band in excellent form here.
Progressive Rock – Godspeed You Black Emperor, Mogwai
College Alternative – Guster, Jason Mraz, Of a Revolution, Jack Johnson
Jam Bands – Rusted Root, Grateful Dead (Everyone should try them at least once)
Rock - …And You Will Know Us By the Trail of Dead