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The new taste of jam

BY MCKENNA PAULUS | FEBRUARY 20, 2014 5:00 AM

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Improvisation plays a huge role during a Cornmeal live show. The jam-band with bluegrass influences will sometimes go off on a 30-minute instrumental tangent without rehearsing any of the chord combinations beforehand. Because the band members have been together for 14 years, their familiarity helps bring their signature sound to each live show. The Daily Iowan had the chance to talk with Wavy Dave Burlingame, a cofounder of the band, and Scott Tipping before their Iowa City show at 9 p.m. on Saturday at the Blue Moose, 211 Iowa. Admission ranges from $12 to $14.

Daily Iowan: What type of music does Cornmeal create?

Burlingame: I would call us more of a jam band with bluegrass instrumentation, but we have a drummer, and there are guitars that play through electric amps. The highlight of our show is when we go on an inspirational journey through our songs. We like to keep our people dancing.

Tipping: Well, Cornmeal is really rooted in bluegrass, but all of us listen to a ton of different music, and a lot of it works its way into the music. [The band] allowed me to bring that out in the jams, so it's kind of a hybrid, but there's a lot of jam elements, and we really try to stretch the limits.

DI: How long has the band been together?

Burlingame: We've been together 14 years; Chris and I are original members. But it all got started from friends putting together a bluegrass band. We put it together as a side project, but eventually, we all left those bands and tried to concentrate on Cornmeal. Chris and I are songwriters, but throughout our history, all members have contributed to our overall sound, and I think our band is a great thing.

DI: Why did the band only release its d├ębut album in 2010, after already being together for many years?

Burlingame: We were focused on heavy touring, we did more than 170 shows a year, we did not have time [to be in the studio.] We have an album that's been in the works for a long time. As soon as we get off this tour, were going to get back and work on it some more. We're hoping to release it around Christmas time.

DI: What are your live performances like?

Burlingame: I think it's our improvisation; we really stretch out the music, and it takes us wherever it goes. But sometimes, certain songs will have a certain package, and we'll jam that session out, and I think the crowd really gets into that because it's spontaneous. I think there is a reciprocal energy change between us. If you force a song to go a certain direction, you lose its integrity, and we have certain places for improvisation.

DI: Scott, why did you decide to join the band?

Tipping: They are great musicians and great people. It was a unique opportunity for me to get involved in something different and bring some different elements of music.

DI: What are Cornmeal's plans for the future?

Burlingame: We're trying to play as much as possible, trying to get the new band lineup to gell, but we're young in our relationship with each other, so we'll keep working at it.


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