over the past 20 and some odd years of studying the guitar, I have found that I am foremost a blues guitar player, Stevie Ray Vaughn to lightning Hopkins, the whole genre. I am currently honing my slide guitar techniques. I have listened to the Dead since I can remember, Older brothers and my Dad sealed that fate for me at a young age. Starting at 13, I would sneak down town with my friends(who were all older than me) on the train to Philly to the parking lots during their summer visit every year until I was "allowed" to go to a show and come home at an ungodly hour as my mom called it. Guitar started to become an obsession at that point too. I liked Led Zepplin, Guns and Roses, Rush, Phish, Allman Brothers and learned all kinds of songs from the classic rock era. But my "inspiration" and my feelings really come out in the blues. I can make my guitar do things that I can't even remember how I really did it if I tried to do it again while playing blues. I really get transported mentally, as if I am not there and my brain has connected to my guitar. As if my guitar became my mouth to say how I am doing, feeling, to tell a story, etc..
The "dead" like jams and jazz jams can transport me in that way too. It's like a sped up version of the blues "Feeling" for me. If you can feel like that, even if it is different form what I get out of it, then you are getting off and that just feels good! It has nothing to do with ability or how many scales you know, or blah blah, you just have to keep the monster (jam) living and breathing which does take some level of skill and understanding of you're instrument. Getting off is the deal for me, just like why we do anything else we enjoy doing most. Also, having others get off on what I'm doing too, that just made that high twice as potent for me. If you get off playing by yourself, with your buds, or in a pro band, its all the same. But getting free cheese sticks and beer when you play bars with a kitchen is a plus worth mentioning too. I owe a lot of my musical philosophy and that feeling to take chances when I play to the Dead and their approach.