Jamming at The Cavern

A collaborative space for local musicians

James Brown, manager at The Cavern, invites musicians to come to bar for Monday jam nights.

Photo by Keeley Braunstein-Black

After a long hiatus, jam nights are back on Mondays at The Cavern, with a few updates.

“This time, we do it with a different house band each week, so it keeps it fresh and new each time. Last time, we just had the same house band every week,” James Brown, The Cavern’s manager, says.

The original jam night ran for about six years but was eventually phased out as people seemed less interested.

“It died out last time, because nobody wanted to go see the same thing over and over, right? This way, it’s a new toy every day,” he says.

Each band starts out by playing their own set as people file in, then anyone who wants to jam can make themselves known and put something together for the next set.

Brennan Hakes, vocalist and guitarist for Those Liabilities, says when they hosted the night, they made it a hybrid between an open mic and a jam, allowing some people to play their own music solo.

“Some people don’t play well with others,” he says. “But then some people come up and want to jam out whatever they can.”

Brown was impressed by the turnout. 

“I saw like, eight different acts in one night for free,” he says.

Although Those Liabilities played a set of their own progressive rock songs, they used simpler melodies for the jam portion of the night.

“It’s kind of a cool thing, because everyone plays differently and has different ideas about the same thing,” he says. 

Joe Curtis, who hosted the night on Feb. 13 with The Joe Curtis Band, says he and his group improvise a lot on stage and have become adept at going with the flow.

While he gets some inspiration for future songs from jams, he says it’s more about enjoying the spontaneity of it all.

“There’s certain things that you hit on and you go Whoa! Gotta remember that. That was a lot of fun,’” he says. “But it’s really more about just in that moment being able to create something that we think is kinda cool.”

Curtis says jam night is a good fit for The Cavern, because the venue has a reputation for giving artists the freedom to express themselves without limitation.

“That’s the philosophy that wins out for me in the end. You develop an audience that comes there, because they know whatever it is, it’s gonna be good,” he says. “You’re hiring people that are passionate about what they do, and they’re letting that out on stage. They’re not censoring themselves in any manner, and they’re just sort of letting it flow.”

Brown keeps that easygoing attitude when he explains how musicians can take part in the jams.

“If you wanna be the house band, contact me. But if you just want to come down and jam, show up,” he says. “Maybe bring your guitar.”

He says all skill levels are welcome.

Jam Nights are every Monday at The Cavern. Doors open at 9 p.m., and the show starts at 10 p.m.

Published in Volume 71, Number 20 of The Uniter (February 16, 2017)

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