“It’s just a great family setting, it’s great to be out here making memories for the kids,” said Christmas, 49. “There’s no, ‘Oh this isn’t Black music, this is white music.’ It’s just everybody’s music. That’s what I love about coming out here. Everybody’s out here from whatever color, age, race. From my first time to now, I see more Black people starting to come.”
These jam bands are known for their dedicated, cult-like followings, with loyal fans traveling from show to show during tour seasons, eager to attend as many concerts as possible. They admittedly have a reputation for playing quintessential “white people music” for crowds of rowdy hippies. But, according to many Black jam band lovers, a deeper look at the music reveals a celebration of genres created and championed by Black people, like funk, jazz and blues.
Whether it’s with family or friends, Black fans have carved out important spaces for themselves within these crowds and fostered community amid the overwhelmingly white jam band fandoms.
Malcolm Howard, a longtime Phish fan, said he often meets with a group of Black friends from New Jersey for shows, and they make a point of traveling for concerts, since he lives in Florida now. “I have a big multicultural crew,” Howard adds, noting that he also attends with other people of color. He even introduced his mother to the band in 2021, taking her along to join in the music he’s loved for so long.
“Now she understands what her son’s been doing all these years. And she loved it. It was amazing,” he said. “As a Black person being in a majority white space, to understand that you have a place, that it’s your song too, that’s very important to me.”