#20 – Love and the Zealous
While Jam in the Van is a music discovery vehicle that prides itself on finding unknown musical jems, this list is usually reserved for the more established acts that grace our stage throughout the year. That being said, some up and comers manage to sneak in every year, and whereby Love and the Zealous is concerned, all you need to do is listen to Richard Love’s voice for about thirty seconds (that’s all it took me to make him a finalist in our annual SXSW contest) and you’ll get why his band found a slot on this coveted list.
#19 – JJ Grey & Mofro
There was a moment at Bottle Rock when JJ Grey was in the band performing “Every Minute” when the the big bright sun in the bright blue sky was shining down on us just right and everything felt about as perfect as perfect can feel. You know, we live in a fucked up world, we really do, and there’s a lot of stuff to be scared of every damn day, but sometimes you get a moment like that and it makes it all seem insignificant next to how great life can be. Over the years a lot of people have asked me what the word “heady” means, and if I could jot down the feeling that ran up my spine as I sat on a speaker stand and watched this performance and encapsulate it in a definition, that would be my best response.
#18 – Problem
We’ve had some good hip hop over the years, but it’s definitely the genre that has proven the most difficult for us to book. What we’ve come to find out is that rappers like to get paid, and we’re not in the practice of paying artists. So when a guy who has worked with the likes of Kanye West, Nas, Snoop, E-40, and many other great artists says that he wants to bring his whole band and perform for us, well that’s extremely heady. Add to it the fact that I got to burn one with him and Disney Channel star Drake Bell, and it made for one hell of a memory.
#17 – Heartless Bastards
Whenever we get a band in The Van whom we’ve listened to for years it always brings a good feeling of accomplishment with it. I’ve seen the Heartless Bastards at countless festivals and concerts and listened to their music through my speakers for many years. So it was both a fulfilling pleasure and extremely heady to have them come to our HQ to hang out with us for a day.
#16 – Ethan Tucker Band
I don’t think there’s a single session that I have listened to this year more times than Ethan Tucker’s from Cali Roots. The guy can flat our write songs that you want to hear over and over again, and you want to hear them as sung by his quite spectacular voice. Add in the fact that Cali Roots might be the single headiest festival in existence, and well, he’s on the list!
#15 – Kyle Gass Band
Long has it been our Roadie’s vision that we book his most favorite of bands, Tenacious D… Well, we tried, and we came up with half a handful of The D, and in the opinion of our Roadie, Jay, we grabbed the better of the two handfuls available. To say that KG did not disappoint one of his devotees is an understatement. He was every bit as majestic as could be imagined and then some. He played some Pan-like rock and roll recorder for us, and didn’t bother to untuck his shirt from his underwear while doing so. That’s a friggin rock star!
#14 – The Revivalists
We had to sit on this session for a long time so that we didn’t release it in advance of the band’s killer album that came out in 2015. It was worth the wait, as both the album and the session were two of the most pleasant musical occurrences of the year, that have us excited for where this band is going next!
#13 – Futurebirds
You can’t show up to our event in a Budweiser shirt. We will NOT allow that. It’s friggin’ Lagunitas (and i guess Heineken, err…) or your ass walks home sober, capiche? If you do make that mistake you are welcome to do as Tojo from Futurebirds did during SXSW and put on a Jam in the Fuckin’ Van shirt and a Lagunitas hat. He was then free to get as shit-canned as he wanted to and he looked fly, and subsequently has looked fly in many an Instagram photo since… Perhaps he just knows how to get free stuff and work the SXSW system. Whatever the case may be, it’s always a rager when these dudes show up. The Futurebirds will forever have a place at our table, and a spot in our headiest of countdowns.
#12 – Trevor Hall
The countdown had to take us back to Cali Roots at least one more time, at least… this guy’s music pretty much embodies the word behind this countdown. There might be a definition in the Websters for “heady” that just says Trevor Hall. A simple definition, simple music, simply very good.
#11 – American Aquarium
I was at a wedding recently and the photographer was buddies with American Aquarium, so he knew our videos from them. We got to talking about BJ Barham and his band and how we’ve hung out with them at SXSW two years in a row now and it’s always a pleasure. They’re solid dudes, and it’s solid hangs, but above all, their music always steals the day. Be it a good day or a bad one, they will leave you feeling some kind of way with a smile on your face.
This year American Aquarium played in a living room for us and blew the roof off (peruse our security deposit check return if you don’t believe me), and then they piled into the Jam Van so that we could hang on to the memory. Because it was a damn good one, it always seems to be.
#10 – The London Souls
The first go around we met them in the middle of a street in New Orleans. This time it was at a festival. Both times it was rock and roll at its finest. They trimmed the band down to two guys, but the sounds are just as large as ever. Top it off with the fact that these two very chill dudes invited us to come see them open for Chris Robinson later in the evening and you’ve got a recipe for a heady good time, and we like those recipes.
#9 – Dirty Heads
They have the word head in their name! How could they not make the list?!
#8 – Brother Grand
The top slots on this list are not solely reserved for the most popular bands that we’ve filmed. It’s for the sessions that really blew our minds. That’s what we mean by headiest, that’s the barometer whereby this list is concerned. These dudes almost broke the barometer. This shit is highly repeatable, listen to it as many times in a row as you like, or until you piss off your neighbors.
#7 – Ryan Bingham
The JITV dog RZA has a thing against handshakes. He gets kind of protective and when he sees a handshake go down he gets confused and he tries to separate those folks shaking hands, but he’s not too smooth at communicating his thoughts and sometimes ends up biting one of the hand-shakers. That sort of happened when we filmed Ryan Bingham at Filth Mart in Hollywood early in 2015. I went to shake Ryan’s hand and RZA went to give him a little “love-nip.” Ryan took it in true cowboy-stride, ruffled the fur on RZA’s head and told him “you better watch out, I bite back!” Cowboys are the original heads, put him on the list!
#6 – Phox
Someone from our Coachella experience had to make the list, because that was just too good of a time for it to get blanked from the Top 20. That being said, Phox would have gotten in if we filmed them in a back alley in Nebraska, this session was just too damn pretty. Throw in that Blink 182 cover that they did and it’s downright mind-blowing. I mean, who else could turn Blink 182 into something that pleasant?! Apologies to my buddy Bob from High School, I know that was your shit back then, but anyways, this Phox session, this right here is the shit for always.
#5 – Jamestown Revival
I am not a fan of Texas, certain aspects of the place scare me a little bit. However, there are things that come from Texas that I am fairly fond of and this band is one of them. The stories they tell in their songs are really clear and really poignant, and they were a pleasure to host at our SXSW pad. Truthfully, their tune “California” locked their slot in the Top 5. It hits close to home I’d speculate to say for the majority of our Cali-transplant crew at JITV. So yes, sentimentality is heady.
#4 – Diarrhea Planet
Huh huh, these dudes know how to party. We know how to party. They played a “Girls Trilogy” in The Jam Van, which we are henceforth dedicating to partying. If you have as many guitar players in your band as these dudes and you get to Jam in the Van you will make this list, I promise. Here’s to keeping the party alive!
#3 – Alberta Cross
There are certain songs that have been there for me in the past. Really sturdy and reliable tunes that got me through some tough times. For each one of these tunes it’s kind of a mini-dream of mine to get them sung in the van. It’s not an attainable dream because the list is pretty endless, but each one I get in there is a little victory. Alberta Cross singing “Old Man Chicago” was one of those wins, and it lived up to every bit of the hype that I had built up in my head. So spot four is going towards toasting to dreams, if you have enough of them some are certain to come true.
#2 – Eagles Of Death Metal
We got to go out to the California desert and barbecue at Dave Catching’s house and party with him and Jesse Hughes and the rest of the wild and wonderful crew of people that their band brings along. Dave makes a mean pollo and carne asada taco, and Jesse can spin a yarn with the best of em. This was probably our most genuine rock and roll experience/memory of the past five years of doing Jam in the Van, and I was sincerely bummed to pull out of Dave’s driveway when it was all said and done. One day is simply not enough time to bask in the vibes that are stoked over at Rancho De La Luna Studios. Heady vibes, really, really, heady vibes.
#1 – Robert Delong
I mean, what can I say about this session. The first one many years ago blew a lot of minds. It went viral and it helped get this amazing musician’s name out to the world. To this day people still tell us how tripped-out they were by the original session. So it’s long been a goal of ours to get another session under the belt with Mr. DeLong. He’s come such a long way and so have we. So it was only fitting that we both show off all of our new toys, his far fancier set-up and video displays, and our spiffy new van, they were a good match. Once again, minds were blown. It doesn’t get much better than mind blowing. So Robert DeLong is taking home the heady cup this year. That’s a wrap. We will see you in 2016, when we start building our new list. Until then keep it as heady as heady can be!