moe.:unscripted. (Promotional Photo / May 29, 2013)


with the Wood Brothers. Ives Concert Park, Western Connecticut State University's Westside Campus, 43 Lake Avenue Ext., Danbury. (866) 558-4253. 6 p.m. $20-$35.


Jam band music isn't always truly improvisational. Chuck Garvey plays guitar and sings for moe., and he knows a thing or two on the subject. His band has been creating live music spontaneously since 1989, and he says that with some groups things aren't always as improvisational as you may think them to be.

"There's definitely an explosion of the more electronic, jamtronic kind of bands now," Garvey says. "And I look forward to seeing more bands improvising and taking chances. You don't always see that. It might seem that way sometimes, but you don't necessarily have a band that's actually making something up on the spot. Because it's kind of scary, you know? You don't want to fail in front of an audience. A lot of people have that kind of appearance of doing that but it's done in kind of a safe way."

moe. formed at the University of Buffalo at a time when the Grateful Dead still had six years under their belt and the overall number of jam bands on the scene was still very low.

"I guess in the early and mid '90s is when it really started to become a thing where it was more than just a couple of bands doing it, like Phish, the Grateful Dead and the Allman Brothers," says Garvey. "But there are definitely bands out there who are doing it now. You can tell. There's a different kind of energy between musicians or musicians and the audience when you're witnessing that happening. I think when music fans see that and start to understand it, then they realize there's this completely different thing happening where it's not just some band coming out and playing their hits, they're actually trying to invent something."

Our next chance to see moe. inventing locally in Connecticut will be this Saturday night at the Ives Concert Park in Danbury. (Gov't Mule plays on Sunday, and if you're fans of both bands, two-day passes run from $36.70-$58.80 through Ticketmaster.) The last time the band played at Ives there was a little incident that made Garvey think they might not be invited back.

"Security said, 'Don't go in the water. There's no reason to go in the water. Do not go in the water.' Last song of the night we played a big epic rock tune and one guy jumped in the pond and next thing you know there's 20 or 30 people in there. One really-under-the-influence person can change how other people act, and I think that's what happened."

The focal point in moe.'s touring year is traditionally Moe.down which will be held August 9th through 11th at Snowridge Ski Resort in Turin, New York. This will be its 14th year in existence, and it serves as a sort of family reunion for moe.'s family and friend's that also marks the end of their festival season. Dr. Dog, Del McCoury Band, the Stepkids and Conspirator will be some of the acts rounding out the bill.

"All my sisters and parents and nieces and nephews come to that, and tons of our friends," says Garvey. "Moe.down is something that, as much as we can, we help curate, and make a wish list for bands, and try and change it up a little bit every year. That's definitely our baby. It's a cozier vibe than other festivals. People bring their kids there. It's like a giant family picnic kind of thing. We're really proud of it."

Back in the mid-'90s moe. toured about 300 days out of the year and had a major label deal with Sony. Nowadays it's down to 110 days or so on the road in order to balance home life. These guys are pros, and they've spent almost a quarter of a century honing their craft and learning how to keep doing what they love — and thriving at it. Incident or no incident, this Saturday's show at Ives is sure to be a good time, demonstrating the band's wealth of musical experience under the stars on a warm June night in Danbury.

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