Bisco Benefit

Perhaps because of the nomadic life of many fans and the inherent sense of community it creates, few music scenes suffer more from the GOD Syndrome than the world of jam bands -- GOD standing for, of course, "Good Ol' Days." In the final years of the Grateful Dead, there were always those old guys with long, snowy-white beards who would, upon a moment's notice, explain how much better things were in the halcyon days of the late 1960s. At recent Phish shows, newcomers to the crowd have little difficulty in locating someone willing to discuss how much better it all was back in the early 1990s. For those who have come afterward, such tales are greeted with a healthy helping of salt.

But if the Disco Biscuits shows this Friday and Saturday are any indication, perhaps there's something to all of this Good Ol' Days business. After all, when else but in a band's early years would you find it willing and able to do a benefit concert for a fan?

"I had a real good friend, Jeremy Wainland," explains Ethan Schwartz, promoter for the two-day event. "I actually took Jeremy to his first [Disco Biscuits] show -- I believe it was Winston-Salem in 1999. We were all a bunch of Jewish kids -- me, Jeremy, and the band -- so we became real friendly with them. Jeremy became one of those fans that showed up at every show and was good friends with the band. He was one of those guys who would sit there for hours and hours debating the merits of one version of a song -- from the version they played tonight versus a version they played three years ago at some place in the middle of the country."

Sadly, on July 6, 2003, after the birth of his first child, a daughter, Wainland died of a brain aneurysm. He was 30 years old. He left behind not just a fiancée, his infant daughter, and a loving family -- but a community of friends, many involved with this band and the scene surrounding it.

"They were all in a lot of shock," Schwartz says. "It's a close-knit community."

So just how big a fan was this guy? How much of a superfan do you have to be for the band to do a benefit concert for your bereaved fiancée and child? Well, Wainland was buried in a Disco Biscuits T-shirt. His favorite song by the band was "Hot Air Balloon"; it was the only song he ever requested of the band, at his first show after his grandmother's death. The band played a definitive version.

"It's a song about finding freedom in life," Schwartz says. "And that's what we all try to do when we see these shows and go out on the road... It's about finding our freedom, enjoying ourselves, and not having a care in the world."

The memorial will be far from a blockbuster. "It's going to be an intimate event," Schwartz says, "and a celebration of his life."

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Dan Sweeney
Contact: Dan Sweeney