This weekend, The Old No. 5s are resuming their Sunday night jam spot at the old Freddy T’s, now known as the Sports Shack and Brew Pub. It has been nearly two years since they hosted the jam there at 2111 E Crossroads Lane. “At first it was a relief not to have the constant demand on our schedule,” said 5s drummer Aaron Thomas, “but after a few weeks, I started missing our friends and the conversations we used to have.” Around January of 2015, Freddy T’s relocated to a new building near 143rd and Metcalf, but the business closed within the year, and the jam was cancelled along with it. The old location changed hands a few times before being leased to the Lucas brothers, who began remodeling immediately with music in mind. When The Old No. 5s booked their previously regular Sunday night jam, the news spread like wild fire before they could announce it. “I only found out 30 minutes ago and you are the second person to call me,” bassist Derek Tucker laughed. “I’m really excited. The old jam meant a lot to people. So many friendships were forged and bands were formed out of those nights. I’m hoping that we get to recreate that level of camaraderie that we had before.” Based on the excited anticipation buzzing around the jam scene, they shouldn’t have any problem picking up right where they left off.
Show begins this Sunday, 2/29, 8pm.
In honor of the new jam, I interviewed established jam hosts Dave Hays, Jacque Garoutte, and Brandon Hudspeth about their jam experiences.
KCBN: How long have you been hosting jams?
Dave: 17 years.
Brandon: about 15 years.
Jacque: I’d say 25.
KCBN: Why should we go to jams? What is the benefit?
Jacque: Because they’re fun!
Brandon: Yeah, they’re a good time, and it’s a good place for everyone to learn together and learn from each other.
Dave: Listeners get a chance to check out different music, and musicians get a chance to practice their craft and stretch out and experiment, and get ideas from different musicians.
Jacque: Really, it’s all about bouncing your ideas off other players and seeing if you can hang with the band. Depending on what level you are, maybe it’s a good place to learn what skill level you’re at.
KCBN: What do you like most about running a jam?
Dave: Meeting different musicians when they come in and rock the house.
Jacque: Meeting new people, I like when a good road band comes through and gets up and really knocks you out.
Brandon: Also, watching new bands form…
Jacque: Oh yeah, that’s happened a million times over.
Brandon: …yeah, getting to watch that aspect of it.
KCBN: What do you like the least?
Dave: The repetition, hearing the same songs over and over, and sometimes people don’t always get along.
Jacque: Running the list.
Brandon: Yeah, my least favorite thing is when people get angry when they don’t get to play with certain people they like.
Jacque: When someone walks in and demands to play with specific people, it doesn’t work like that. If it falls together, perfect, but it doesn’t always.
KCBN: Do you think it has benefitted or hurt your career as a musician to host jams?
Dave: All in all, it’s probably benefitted my career. I normally play the first set just with my band and people have come to know me for that. Also, getting to meet people and get new ideas. The younger people come in and they have a lot of energy. I love that. And the older guys know everything, so you learn something from both sides.
Brandon: Well people get the wrong idea about your band sometimes if they’re coming in out of town.
Jacque: There’s a big difference between the Levee Town jam and the Levee Town show. People don’t always get that.
Brandon: But you do get to stay current in the scene.
Jacque: Yeah, you get to meet everybody and hang out and be working.
KCBN: What advice would you give to someone just starting to play at jams?
Dave: Learn a few songs and come out. If you’re gonna sing, sing. If you’re gonna play, play like crazy. Jump in with both feet.
Brandon: Tune your guitar before you get onstage. Know what songs you want to play and what key they’re in before you get onstage.
Jacque: Listening is key, and pay attention to the singer.
KCBN: Last question. Tell us something cool about a jam you've hosted.
Dave: I’ve had a lot of younger kids come in to play and decide they really like music, and they go on to get music scholarships. I’m really proud of that.
Jacque: Dick Vermeil, (former coach of the Kansas City Chiefs) his wife, and his business partner came into Blayney's one night, and they were the only people in the bar. We didn’t know who they were for the whole first set. Jan (Faircloth, drummer) recognized him first. They were awesome. His wife came up and shook my hand and tipped us well. That was pretty cool.
You can catch the Levee Town jam at Knuckleheads on Sunday afternoons, 1-6pm.
Jacque Garoutte is resuming his Monday night jam at the Hideout, starting February 6th, also ft Adam Hagerman, Cliff Moore, and Taylor Smith. 7pm.
Dave Hays runs a jam at Llywelyn’s Pub, 7:30-11:30, every Tuesday, and a Sunday night jam at The Firehouse 7-10:30. When the weather gets warm, you will also be able to catch his Wednesday night jam at A Little BBQ Joint, 7-10pm.
For information on all the jams taking place in the Greater Kansas City Area, check out the Blues Lovers Calendar.