Jam In The ‘Dam Preview Guide
- By Brandon Chiat
- Published on March 06, 2012
While Alexander Pope may have been commenting on the condition of the human spirit when he said, “hope springs eternal,” truer words have never been spoken for jam band fans.
And while everyone looks ahead to upcoming tours and summer festival season, thanks to Armand Sadlier and Jam in the ‘Dam, an excursion across the pond in March gets the party started a bit early.
As the “festival that changed the rules,” Jam in the ‘Dam rewrote the book on what a music festival could be and made itself a destination festival unlike any other. Following the mantra of “no cops, no dogs, no mud,” Jam in the ‘Dam embraced the welcoming charm of its host city.
[FIND more information about Jam in the 'Dam and buy tickets on the official website.]
|JitD Perfromer Lotus in Philadelphia for New Year's Eve - Photo Credit: Charles Mostoller|
Amsterdam is practically tailor-made for a few days of stellar music, stunning culture and of course, coffee shop indulgences.
Centered at the Melkweg, the crown jewel of European live music venues, Jam in the ‘Dam features nightly musical sets from 8:00 p.m. to 2:30 a.m. This schedule allows fans to enjoy the wonders of Amsterdam by day and rock out by night.
This unique opportunity to combine the exploration of a world-class European city with the expansion of musical horizons is what makes Jam in the ‘Dam an experience not to be missed. And read our earlier preview of the festival, chronicling what makes the city so special.
Jam in the ‘Dam’s fearless leader Armand Sadlier discusses the inspiration behind the festival, the lineup and even teases about the attendance of a certain red-haired guitarist in Headstash’s official Jam in the ‘Dam Preview Guide.
Headstash Magazine: Take us back to 2005. What was the inspiration behind a jam band festival in Europe? What was the initial response from fans and bands alike? Besides the mystique and morally tolerant atmosphere of its host city, what about the festival itself sets Jam in the ‘Dam apart from other destination festivals like Mayan Holidaze or Jam Cruise?
Armand Sadlier: The inspiration? A forgotten passport. Long story, but the essence is that because I forgot my passport, I ended up on a different flight to Amsterdam with David Sanborn’s band (my favorite sax player), and his road manager sat across the aisle from me. They were playing The Melkweg that evening, he invited me and I experienced the venue for the first time.
Two months later, I had an epiphany before an Umphrey’s McGee show in New York. (I was their agent at the time.) I told the guys about it later that night. They were skeptical, but open, and 13 months later we were sold out at The Melkweg for the very first Jam in the ‘Dam.
[FOLLOW Jam in the 'Dam on Facebook.]
After all, only the ideas we live have any value. I encourage anyone to follow his or her bliss – that thing you can’t live without – and you will end up on the right path.
The thing that separates Jam in the ‘Dam from all other festivals is the cultural immersion. A beach is a beach, an ocean an ocean, but there is only one Amsterdam.
It’s not for everyone, obviously – maybe I lived there in a past life. It feels more like a utopian society than anywhere else. But for people who get the attraction, it seems to keep pulling you back.
The European Jam Scene and The Lineup
HM: In our last interview we talked briefly about the lack of a jam band scene and community in Europe. What role do you see the Jam in the ‘Dam festival playing in the European music scene? As ambassadors of this uniquely Americana genre of music do you hope to grow the same rabid commitment among your European fans?
AS: I think the most we can hope for is to grow our European following to the point that we could hold the festival if no one from the States came. Maybe the electronic/DJ scene will fade more quickly there because it began there, and people will embrace real music again.
The Internet has already enabled ideas, culture and music to spread more quickly than ever before. Never say never when it comes to music.
HM: The 2012 Jam in the ‘Dam lineup is well balanced with bands representative of all three generations of the jam scene (Dark Star Orchestra: the old guard, Mike Gordon and moe.: the jam band renaissance of the ‘90s, Lotus: the latest explosion of livetronica). Why are these bands the right acts for Jam in the ‘Dam 2012?
AS: I’m glad you noticed that, as it was the intention. The cover of this month’s “Relix” read, “Umphrey’s McGee: Will They Be The Last Jam Band Standing?” I say a hearty, “no.”
|JitD Performer moe. at Summer Camp 2011 - Photo Credit: Andrew Duch|
As far as DSO, they draw more Europeans than any other band. So, you have to consider growth as well as foster respect for the roots. Those Europeans must be seeing something they like – we are on track to sell about twice as many three-day passes as we ever have in Europe.
HM: What surprises are in store for Jam in the ‘Dam 2012? Do you think Dark Star Orchestra will do anything special to commemorate the 40th anniversary of The Grateful Dead’s famed Europe ’72 tour?
AS: I’ve heard rumors to that effect. Of course, you never know who will show up on any given stage at any time. Wouldn’t it be great if a certain red-headed guitarist showed up?
No cops, no dogs, no mud. Some people like to embrace the lifestyle of the fabled wook while at a festival. Others would prefer three square meals, a hot shower and a bed to sleep in. Jam in the ‘Dam offers the best of both worlds with an outdoor music festival’s sense of community complete with the comforts of home.
Doin’ it like the Dutch. In our last interview, Sadlier raved about the Dutch people’s pragmatic and laidback approach to tourists and life in general. These friendly, English-speaking locals have a zest for life and a real passion for live music. Get a chance to know them and your experience will be all the more worthwhile.
The artists are on vacation, too. Don’t be surprised to run into Al Schnier in the Van Gogh Museum, or catch Mike Gordon riding his bike along the canals. Amsterdam is a major European city with an intimate feel, so there’s a good chance you’ll see your favorite musician taking in the sights as well. Not to mention the Jam in the ‘Dam music schedule allows festivalgoers to have plenty of sunlight to embrace all that Amsterdam has to offer.
The cost. There’s no way to avoid it – on top of the price of admission, Jam in the ‘Dam attendees have to shell out cash for a plane ticket, accommodations, food and have some left over spending money to truly experience the ‘Damage. Then again, if you’re serious about jumping the pond for this once-in-a-lifetime experience, you’re sure to have already factored it into your budget.
Get to know the locals – The Dutch are among the friendliest and outgoing Europeans and they will be more than happy to point a lost tourist in the right direction. Buy them a pint of their favorite beer and get to know their story – they’re bound to know where the best late-night party spots are.
Take a canal tour. The most leisurely, not to mention efficient, way to tour the majestic canals of Amsterdam. Jam in the ‘Dam visitors can set up a canal tour through the festival or purchase a hop-on/hop-off pass from any one of the city’s friendly tourist kiosks.
Rent a bike. The best way to navigate the narrow streets and alleys of Amsterdam is to pedal your way through like a local. Jam in the ‘Dam founder calls biking through the city “exhilarating,” and it’s a must for any first time visitor.
Don’t smoke in public. Leave your joints and blunts inside the coffee shop, says Sadlier. “It’s the old give an inch, take a mile cliché. It’s really just like going into a bar to get a beer here in the States. You can’t walk out with that beer in your hand.”
Don’t ignore the trams. Because they won’t ignore you. Even though you’re sure to be just the tiniest bit distracted leaving The Melkweg at 2:30 in the morning, make sure you keep an eye out for the fast moving trams.
Jam in the ‘Dam combines the music and community vibe of the big outdoor summer music festivals with the intimacy of a local club show. Festivalgoers often lose themselves inside the legendary theatre, forgetting for a time that they are grooving to their favorite bands in a foreign country.
Jam in the ‘Dam takes place from March 14 to 16 and features Mike Gordon, Lotus, moe., Keller Williams and Dark Star Orchestra. For more information about the event and to purchase tickets, check out the official website.