The 3rd annual Head Jamz Music Festival began at the same time a massive heat wave rolled through the States with temperatures soaring over 100 degrees. The humidity that accompanied the opprobrious heat wave was beastly and for those who have been to music festivals in Tennessee, you’ll know exactly how hot it was. The artists performing at Head Jamz brought the heat as well and seemed to be in a fierce competition with Mother Nature.
The festival kicked off on the banks of beautiful Red River on Thursday, September 1st with a pre-party hosted by Canago, The Coolin System, Chris West & Junkyard Horns and with a late night set by Ematick.
As festy goers wandered in on Friday, they were greeted by very helpful staff that had a remarkable way of knowing exactly what campsites were available and where people where from in the surrounding campsites transitioning the reunions of festy goers into a very nice and easy experience. It was apparent straight from the gate we would be in for a very intimate festival with top name artists you would expect to find at a larger festival.
The stage was nestled in a wooded area just off of the river, the small decorative lights strung on the buildings and in the trees made it feel like you were walking into an amusement park. Opening the official Head Jamz Music Festival was Jahman Brahman an improvisational electronica jam band from Columbus, Ohio. They turned the stage over to a wonderful soul funk band, Deep Fried 5 who warmed the stage nicely for The Ragbirds.
The Ragbirds have a unique style of world music that incorporate Celtic, Gypsy, Mid-Eastern, African and Latin styles. Erin Zindle (vocals, violin, mandolin, banjo, accordion and percussion) and Randall Moore (percussion) formed the band several years ago and have since added TJ Zindle (guitar), Brian Crist (bass) and Loren Kranz (drums). You can’t help but be intrigued by Zindle as she weaves layers of world music through each instrument she plays and with a voice of a song bird it’s hard not to fall in love with the cute pig-tailed pixie on stage.
Keller Williams and the Keels followed the Ragbirds as the main attraction for the evening. The heat having abated slightly brought the boogie out and the fire twirlers and dancers began their show of impressive moves as Keller and the Keels took the stage. The repertoire consisted mostly of Williams collection of tunes filled in nicely with the Keels harmony on vocals and added guitar of Larry Keel and stand-up bass of Jenny Keel.
Papadosio out of Athens, Ohio played the late night set. A forefront of live electronica music the late night sets suite them well and as they played into the night festy goers could hear them from their campfires. Flea Market Hustlers are an amazing group from Murfreesboro, Tennessee and they bring an assortment of funky jamgrass.
As folks stretched out of their tents and was greeted by the morning humidity many chose to indulge in the river so close at hand. The festival provided canoe trips through Red River Canoe so folks could rent canoes or bring their own flotation devices. There were also hoop workshops and morning yogo for those how felt inclined to venture into the heat.
Fresh Hops kicked the day off their improvisational electro bluegrass funk filling the air for those still in the river or at camp. Bullhog, The Blow Jays, Ryan Cavanaugh & No Man’s Land and Last Straw took their turns at the stage before Donna the Buffalo arrived at set the night alive with the rawest funky New Orleans music any festy could offer.
Donna the Buffalo seasoned vets of the jam scene have been playing music for twenty one years and a treat to a lot of first time festy goers. Hailing from New York and primarily playing on the coast a lot of folks were unfamiliar to who they were. Tara Nevens (vocals, acoustic guitar, fiddle, accordion, washboard) was a feast of spunk as she took the stage. Jeb Puryear (electric guitar, pedal steel, vocals), Mark Raudabaugh (drums), David McCracken (electric keyboard, organ) and Kyle Spark (electric bass) brought the night alive as they performed one of the best sets of the festival.
As the night continued to bathe everyone in heat Big Sam’s Funky Nation brought the funk. Big Sam Williams whose the powerhouse front man is former trombonist for the Dirty Dozen Brass Band. The high energy, drenched in sweat front man had the crowd chanting and mimicking the moves he made.
The Twin Cats out of Indianapolis, Indiana continued the dance floor madness. Twin Cats a local favorite of many of the attendees played a solid two hour set with a mix of funk, prog rock, jazz, and electronica. Another local favorite, Hyryder played late set. They are known for their incredible covers of Grateful Dead, Phish, Bob Dylan, Beatles, Allman Brothers, Crosby Stills Nash and Young. As they played into the night it began to rain and temperatures to drop. Embryonic Fluid finished out the night.
Sunday morning had everyone excited for a day of excellent music. The rain that started in the middle of the night did not abate but brought relief of the soaring temperatures of the days before. Several people packed up camp and planned to leave after the last set of the night, The New Mastersounds. As most people were busy packing the stage seemed very deserted for the Nashville Acoustic Jam with the Danberry’s and Friends, Shadyside Allstars, Charles Butler & Associates and Old Union. It wasn’t until Captain Midnight Band took the stage until the front of the stage started filling up with movers and shakers. UV Hippo followed Captain Midnight and as the rain steadily progressed into a hard downpour folks either huddled under the roof of the dance floor or headed home. By the time Cornmeal took the stage there seemed to only be enough people to fill the area three quarters of the way full. Cornmeal as always brought the heat. Opening with Midnight, it seemed to set the stage for the fast paced night of jamgrass. The New Mastersounds closed out the night and played a stellar set of improvisational funk and temperatures dropped as the rain continued to pelt the folks in attendance.
Head Jamz Musical festival lived to its promise of providing an intimate atmosphere for festy goers with incredible performers of both local caliber and top tier performers.