Expanding the JAMMIES Vision:

The Night Jam Project

Patrick Martin

Patrick Martin

When members of the six-month old funk band Eclectic heard solo-bassist Patrick Martin rock the house at the JAMMIES Battle of the Bands January 21st at Luna’s Café, they knew they’d found their newest band member. With blurred fingers, Patrick delivered impossibly fast, pounding bass riffs that drove the crowd nuts. As he stepped from the stage, the members of Eclectic descended on Patrick demanding his phone number. Two weeks later, at the final Battle of the Bands at Club Retro, Eclectic made their raucous debut, and Patrick’s bass fit seamlessly with their crowd-stomping, smack-talking, funk-meets-rock-and-goes-to-church style.

It was for moments like these the JAMMIES were made. SN&R created the JAMMIES three years ago to serve as a catalyst for developing one of the most vibrant high-school music scenes anywhere in the country. Our goal was to encourage and support the young musicians, feeder music-education programs and music services that are imperative to a lively, exciting live music scene in Sacramento. We believed that, if young musicians were provided with a stage and spotlight, they would rise to the occasion, practice harder, rehearse more, and seek out opportunities to improve their musicianship. The effect would be the development of all aspects of a healthy youth-music scene.

The results have been phenomenal. Quite a few JAMMIES musicians have gone on to greater success. Sasha Tkacheff, an electric violinist who wowed the crowd with her reinterpretation of Jimi Hendrix doing the Star Spangled Banner, has a new CD out and has been performing regularly at nightspots around Sacramento, as well as at The Fillmore in San Francisco. Austrian beatbox champ Leejay Abucayan continues to enjoy significant news and radio coverage of his unique talents from 107.9 The End, KWOD 106.5, KXTV News 10, and UPN 31 Good Day Sacramento. In addition to releasing two CDs and signing with an indie record label, Gooser was featured on SN&R’s Searching for Sammie: Sac Amped CD released this past February, and has developed a significant fan base throughout California while on tour. Five Minute Ride has toured extensively, and had a new CD released in February with Rise Records. These are just some of the successes musicians have since enjoyed.

But requisite to a vibrant youth-music scene is the development of under-age live music venues where young musicians can showcase their talents to the teen crowd in a safe, supervised environment year-round. Young musicians need a place to play regularly and their teenage fans need a place to hang out and support their favorite bands. Parents want assurances that their kids are in a safe, supervised environment when listening to live music.


So last year we instituted The Battle of the Bands: The Road to The Crest leading up to the JAMMIES Night of Contemporary Music. Twenty-five bands and solo acts were selected to compete at five venues. We sought out all-age venues where teenagers would be welcomed on stage and in the audience. The shows were a great success, increasing the fan base and visibility of many of the young performers.

Again this year, twenty-two bands and solo acts were selected to compete in five battles in January and February. Audience attendance was up by 200 to 300% over last year. Crowd favorites like Gooser filled the house for the second year in a row, while new bands like Eclectic took the audience by storm, developing a new fan base and receiving bookings that very night to play additional shows.

Some of the all-age venues utilized for the Battles last year are now up and running year round several nights a week (see Jeff Hudson’s article, “All-age club scene”). Four of this year’s Battle shows were held at all-age music “clubs” run out of area churches, Club Retro in Orangevale and The Underground Café in Roseville, which have attracted large teen audiences in their areas. But other all-age venues continue to struggle to attract audiences large enough to support their continued existence. At least one venue has suspended operation entirely. And many areas in greater Sacramento have no safe, supervised venues at all for their area teens to play and listen to live music.

Our goal is to assist in the development and success of at least ten new safe, supervised live music venues for teenagers throughout the greater Sacramento area. Because alcohol cannot be served to increase revenues and pay for advertising, these all-age venues need other means of getting the word out to parents and teens and build audiences. So we are working with sponsors to create a Night Jam section in the SN&R where these all-age venues can promote their upcoming shows, support evolving young musicians in the area by providing exposure, and get the word out to parents that there are safe, supervised places for their teens to have fun.

As these bands gain more exposure through the Night Jam section and gigs, they will develop bigger fan bases, broader audiences, and greater support for the all-age venues. As the venues share booking information and sponsor resources, bands will have a “circuit” to play locally while developing their talent. And teens will have more places to go to listen to their favorite bands in a safe environment.

For more information about this exciting endeavor, please e-mail jammies@newsreview.com.