Initial JamVember ‘non-festival’ a big success

Last year we shared news about a new event on the New England bluegrass calendar, a “non-festival” to be held this fall at the Framingham, MA hoteltonywatt where the annual Joe Val Memorial Bluegrass Festival is hosted each year. It was given the name JamVember, as the concept was to provide a spot and an opportunity for non-stop jamming, but without a stage show in competition.

Organizer Tony Watt tells us that the first event, just concluded yesterday, went better than any of them had hoped

JamVember featured 100 workshops and teacher-led jams hosted by over 50 musicians and teachers. And this was just a fraction of the amazing music happening at the Sheraton all weekend long because, even with all the scheduled sessions, this event was much more like a festival than a camp.

People came from all over the northeastern states (MA, NH, VT, ME, RI, CT, NY, NJ, and PA), as well as MD, VA, TN, FL, and TX. There were nearly 350 attendees, which greatly exceeded my expectations for the first year of the event. But it wasn’t a complete surprise given the fact that JamVember was held in the same location (the Sheraton in Framingham, MA) as the 2006 IBMA Event of the Year, the Joe Val Memorial Bluegrass Festival (a.k.a. Joe Val).

A couple of the folks who traveled the furthest were Alan Tompkins, event promoter and IBMA Board Member, and Gerald Jones, of Texas’ Acoustic Music Camps. Gerald helped out by teaching workshops and hosting jams, and Alan was there to jam as much as possible in 48 hours. Alan sent along this note after getting home:

“We traveled quite a distance, from Dallas to Boston, but JamVember was worth the trip! The experience was a ton of fun, with jams going in dozens of rooms (and most every hallway) and great folks who welcomed you right in. When Tony described his new event as ‘a non-festival full of jamming without the distraction of a stage show,’ I knew he had a winner – and he delivered!”

Everything went so well this year that we already planning next year’s event, which will be held the weekend before Thanksgiving, November 22-24, 2019.

Well done, Tony, and all the folks who helped put on this five event. Get more information on JamVember online.

Here are some photos from the weekend, taken by Eric Levenson, long-time bassist in Joe Val’s band, the New England Bluegrass Boys

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About the Author

John Lawless

John had served as primary author and editor for The Bluegrass Blog from its launch in 2006 until being folded into Bluegrass Today in September of 2011. He continues in that capacity here, managing a strong team of columnists and correspondents.