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Photo of Sid Prise
Instruments: Vocals, guitar, bass, keyboard, percussion, thumb piano, misc.
Jams Attended:110
First jam:05/01/1992
Last jam:05/28/2017

When Brian Cameron and I got together with a few friends at his tiny uptown apartment in May of '92, and played a borrowed guitar blah blah, I never thought that in three years we'd be part of the incredibly profound cutting-edge counter-cultural vanguard-type phenomenon we are today. Look at us! We've got a WEB PAGE, a LOGO -- why there's even talk of t-shirts and stuff. Pretty soon, everybody who's anybody will have their pick of the growing range of Sheep Fiends(tm) Accessories. Own all of our tapes! Wear all of t-shirts! Hang up disturbing pictures of Dan Foss on your wall!

Before the great cultural movement we are destined to be and get our faces on the covers of major rock mags and start doing dispensable razor commercials, I'd like at this time to offer my humble advice on the other possible directions this thing might head toward, in the hope that everybody out there in Internet-land (as well as hopeless computer illiterates like myself) won't misunderstand what this Sheep Fiends thing is all about. A simple story might illustrate my point.

I was recently at this party, a typical social beer and marijuana affair, and I began feeling that peculiar sense of loneliness and isolation only possible in large crowds of people. Everyone at the party, or nearly everyone, seemed caught up in making an impression, name-dropping "friends" of theirs as if to insinuate themselves into this or that clique, and the whole scene began to remind me of why I never was in parties in high school. The friendly hugs and salutations conveyed no genuine welcome; the conversations had nothing to do with actual communication.

Then somebody did something wonderful; somebody went off in the corner and started playing a drum. I was instantly drawn to that corner as were a few others, and within minutes a whole room was drawn together in song. The improvised patterns which reappeared and then dissolved into the general fuzzy backbeat. Many people played drums, a few guitars and harmonicas and at least one person played a toy accordian. Still others made instruments of beer cans and ink pens and various pieces of plastic which they discovered made cool noises. The song lasted a while, twenty minutes at least and it involved everyone from skilled musicians to people who had never picked up an instrument before. Yet everyone felt involved equally; everyone's contribution mattered.

After this blissful moment, the party began to return to where it was before. But while it lasted, all the barriers between people had fallen, the communication was genuine and fun. All the pretentiousness, cliqueness, false friendliness -- all these things dissolved as easily as it was to pick up the drum and play.

This, more than anything else, is what I see as important and wonderful about the sheep fiends experience (my lack of capitals is intentional). If there is any "philosophy" about it, it is simply this: anyone can participate, anyone can feel welcome to share and contribute without fear of playing a "wrong" note, and the more the merrier. The "music" created is not the goal nor the product of the experience, but a by-product which might sound good or bad or mediocre and may be played back or forgotten about according to whom. The important thing is not the music but the experience of making it.

This is equally important to remember now, when various people want to fashion the Sheep Fiend thing into some kind of "band" to be adored and enjoyed by "fans" and "audience members." etc. etc. People have been playing in bands for the enjoyment of spectators for thousands of years, and they will continue to do so. We don't need to duplicate nor replace this pattern. We're into communication, not music, and our music has the same relation to scripted music as spontaneous beat poetry has to literature -- it's not the same, its not better or worse, it's just different. The Sheep Fiends ethic is one which eliminates the division between participants and spectators, so that everyone involved simultaneously fills both roles. Ideally, a time will come when people will gather in groups of tens or hundreds or thousands or more to play together in one glorious song. Anyone who has been to a Dead show can testify how beautiful an experience it is to sit among twenty thousand like-minded people and enjoy the same song. How much better it could be if, in stead of a few guys on stage playing to the multitudes, the multitudes themselves played music for themselves. Having participated in rooms full of twenty such musicians, I can only imagine the rush of twenty-thousand.

So, my advice to anyone reading this would be - Sure! Buy our tapes if you like, wear a print of me on your shirt if you choose. But don't forget to make your own music at home with your own friends, neighbors, relatives, complete strangers. Eventually, Ishialla, we'll all get together somewhere and have a really great jam. Thanx for readin'.