Colonel Bruce Hampton- In Memoriam-(Myth, Legend, Mystic) And The Future of the Jam Community
We all have that older brother/uncle-type who imparts their wisdom upon us in many ways (ie. musically) forming and molding us into who we will become. Bruce Hampton was like that for many people and many of those people are prominent members of the Jam community today because of it. Colonel Bruce was a self-proclaimed “Minor League Coach of Bands” but to me, he seems more than a minor figure in our world. He seems like an enigmatic and elusive mastermind, but at the same time completely accessible, if you take the time to hear what he has to say.
I first became acquainted with the Colonel’s music through the usual channels; he is spoken of like a legend, a myth, or demigod but when you capture him in the thralls of genius, he is completely transparent. When I first got a hold of Aquarium Rescue Unit it all clicked. They were the ones; the ultimate Jamband, blasting for the stars but burning up too quickly. Its part performance art, part circus but it perfectly embodies what Jam music could be or once was. It is the future and the past colliding into a cacophony of transcendence never seen before in our musical spectrum. I have only seen Colonel Bruce on stage a few times and never in full form but his on stage energy is insatiable. I truly wish I could see him once more and really listen, with not only my ears, but my soul.
Surrounded by friends and family and some of the best musicians on the entire planet, Colonel Bruce Hampton died doing what he loved best. It's some sort of coincidental, supernatural musical conspiracy but it's as if he held out until the very last moment and then let his spirit fly at the feet of the next generation of players on the scene, Brandon Niederauer or TAZ. My thoughts are not only with the Colonel's Family and the musicians on stage but TAZ himself. The importance of this monumental occasion should not be misunderstood. I believe that Colonel Bruce was making a statement saying, “Take it away kid, the next generation is in good hands.” That's one hell of a way to pass the torch. The musicians on stage continue to play as what will be the last few moments of Colonel Bruce’s life pass but he bore witness to the very thing he had helped create. Colonel Bruce’s legacy will always be a part of the Jam community. We respect and honor you and we will strive to keep and uphold the Jam scene in your likeness. Thank you for everything, I would not be doing what I am doing today if it was not for you.
Humbly and Honorably,
R. A. Fadley- The Jam Band Purist
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Editor: Robert (R.A.) Fadley
Freelance Writer, Musicologist, Music Journalist, Music Critic, Music Writer, Author, Musician, Singer-songwriter, Composer, Guitarist.