The Source rocks Peace of Mind Festival (Twice) and talks about their Journey into the Jam Scene
Blankets and bodies littered the ground as one of the largest daytime crowds gathered for Consider the Source’s acoustic set Saturday afternoon at Peace of Mind Festival in Halifax, PA. The set was a romantic follow-up to the band’s heavier, full electric set which headlined the Friday night prior. Jeff Mann, drummer for the Source, admitted that their “acoustic” description in the festival program was a bit of a cheat, since the band was using a hybrid of both electric and acoustic instruments.
“This is our ‘acoustic’ set,” Mann spoke into the microphone, “It’s really half and half, but we’re sitting, and you’re sitting, so that makes it a bit more acoustic.”
“It’s 1 p.m. at a music festival,” bassist John Ferrara added, “How are so many of you out here?”
The crowd caught a quick laugh before becoming entranced in semi-stripped versions of old and new favorites such as “Don’t Shrink Me, Gypsy”, “Moisturize the Situation”, and “60% Gentleman, 40% Scholar”—a song that Gabriel Marin, guitarist of the Source, added they rarely bring out for live performances. Throughout the set, Ferrara switched between a ukulele bass and his standard electric bass, while Marin between a fretless guitar and saz—a Turkish string instrument. Mann sat behind his standard drum set, changing between sticks and hands to beat a myriad of drums, bells, and cymbals.
Although the Source has played acoustic sets for years, the development of this hybrid style is fairly new.
“[The hybrid acoustic] is fun. It gets more conversation because it’s quiet so we can really just react to each other’s playing more easily, and it’s very relaxed. It’s more like when we’re rehearsing in the living room together. When we did the old acoustic stuff with all acoustic instruments, we had a very hard time. It felt like everyone was in their own world because the sound was so quiet. We would struggle so hard that it almost became a bummer, but with this [hybrid set] we can have stuff that sounds okay and is amplified well. It’s not quite acoustic, but it’s what we can do way better, so we’re going with it for now,” Marin said.
The New York native band has become a regular highlight for Peace of Mind, which just closed out its sixth year of production. The band admits that Halifax residing so close to home is a big part of why they keep coming back, but even more so is their relationship with festival organizers Jason Shearer and Krystle Hauck.
“Jason and Krystle are awesome. They’ve been really supportive of us. We had never heard of this festival when we first played it, and now we’ve become friends and a band that regularly plays for them. Jason has even taken lessons from [Ferrara and Marin] both through Skype and in person,” Mann said.
The Source is in the wake of another celebration: their ten year anniversary. Even though their technical band-birthday was deemed 2015, Marin admits that there is no exact starting year.
“It doesn’t really feel like ten years because the first year we played about once a month. I remember our first show we had three long jams. We had a loose, folk-like Eastern theme we would jam around, and that was it. We stayed really loose and then figured we might as well record it. It just sort of snowballed from there. It doesn’t feel like ten years because it was all kind of unexpected, but it also does because we’ve formed a deeper connection and developed a cool sound,” Marin said.
What was even more unexpected for the Source was their acceptance into the jam band festival scene.
“One of the things that makes us different is that we developed in a very organic way. That’s why we’re not sure if we’ve been a band for ten years or not, because for the first few years there were really no other ambitions. We were just playing together, and the music was sounding good. When you have that kind of outlook from the beginning you’re not striving to be a progressive (prog) rock band, jazz fusion band, jam band, or anything like that. You’re just growing naturally into what you are and then from there you see who likes you,” Ferrara said.
“We didn’t even know there was such a thing as a ‘jam scene,’” Marin added, “Jibberjazz was one of the first festivals we did, and we were just looking around like, ‘What’s going on? How are there so many people here?’”
But the past decade has proven that the warmest home has come from the heart of the festival scene. Consider the Source can certainly be regarded as a type of misfit with their heavy music and Eastern character, but their following makes their fame as equally as undeniable as their spreading influence. Of everything surrounding the festival scene, they spoke highest of its patrons.
“I have friends in other scenes, and no one has the committed followers that the jam scene has. Even though it’s slightly more difficult for us because of our music, we’ll run into people that have seen us eight to ten times in the year. It’s so cool when someone can say that they saw you do this song at that show and it was really good. It makes you feel like people are really listening,” Marin said.
And people have been listening closely. Since their arrival on scene, the Source has noticed more of their musical elements such as odd time signatures, Indian/Eastern influences, and “prog-y” styles popping up within other bands. To them, this mixing of ideas is taken as a compliment rather than an insult. The spreading of their music and style is even encouraged through the Source Academy, a program where all three musicians have a number of students learning their styles and techniques.
“In some ways, that idea of sheltering [ideas] is a very Western concept. If you look at a lot of famous musicians in the Jazz or Classical scenes, they studied with another famous musician. At this point in time, a lot of our students have bands that sound really good— like Joe from Cousin Earth. He was a student of mine for a long time and was killing it last night. It’s a really rewarding feeling that we have students who have bands that are playing with us at festivals today. I don’t know why anyone wouldn’t want that,” Marin said.
“We still take lessons too,” Ferrara added, “A lot of the ideas you’ll come up with while experimenting with your instrument are like a discovery. Why would you ever want to just keep that alone? Anything that we’ve learned is from watching people and thinking that it’s really cool.”
Although there is evidence of the Source’s influence on jam music, they couldn’t really say that it goes both ways.
“We really try to do what we do, and we’re kind of hard-headed in that aspect. If we’re going to play a heavier show, then it doesn’t matter what kind of music is on before or after us, we’re going to play a heavier show. It’s crazy that people have accepted us doing what we do, so why would we turn our backs on that?” Marin said.
Mann did admit that although the scene may not influence their style, it doesn’t fall short of giving them innovative ways of playing with it.
“We had done one Radiohead cover two or three years ago, and then we realized we do so many festivals and some people see us so much throughout the season…Why not switch it up and do a tribute set? That’s how we ended up doing to Radiohead set.That probably would have never happened if we weren’t in the scene,” Mann said.
“There is zero percent that would have ever happened if we weren’t in the jam scene,” Marin reinforced.
With the Source’s catch into different markets we can only wait and witness what other sounds and sets they conjure.
You can see Consider the Source continue on their Radiohead tribute—along with a stacked schedule of original music—during their upcoming fall tour.