A Night at the Grape Room Jam
In April, 2022, the world was opening back up. Although The Grape Room was a music venue that I was able to go to in late 2021 without covid restrictions, I only made it there once, I think. And their weekly open jam was not back in effect.
Eventually though, in March they reopened the jam. I learned about it in April, attended, and was extremely grateful that this thing existed. I needed to play with other musicians and didn’t find my scene yet. I was rough on the drums, but I’ve gotten substantially better since then.
One year later, almost to the week on April 12, 2023, I was producing the stage recordings for this documentary. The interviews all took place from that day though August. The sound check intro was recorded April 19. I did a little bit of editing trickery there.
Ethan Cain and Ryan Daugherty are the current co-hosts of the jam, alternating from week to week. I make it look more like they co-host together every week, because they often attend each other’s nights.
This is about the jam and the experience of being in that room and on that stage. I wanted to capture the experience of the jam and overlay it with the thoughts of musicians and audience members.
At first, the idea was to be a chronicling, perhaps with multiple nights of stage recordings, and a focus on the history of the jam, the hosts, and the venue. But that seemed too obvious, and frankly, laborious.
My music scene is varied (because I like creating and listening to a wide variety of music) so there isn’t really a single place for me anywhere. The closest I can get to is this jam. Admittedly, the players who come here aren’t very experimental. My identity formed around that notion of always pushing boundaries. Thankfully, that artistic ego is more fluid now.
Usually someone brings a riff, but I’m much more into it when someone just messes around until I can provide enough beat to build on, and it goes somewhere. Whenever someone brings some progression, it gets stuck there. Very hard to break out of a box when you start with one, easier to remain fluid when you start that way.
This idea is streamlined, it’s one night of stage recordings, in fact, just 90 minutes of what is usually three hours, all condensed into a mashup of less than 10 minutes.
I asked everyone a few simple but open ended questions, to allow them to riff on ideas. What is improvisation? What is the difference between an open mic and an open jam? How has the jam impacted you as a musician? Then some follow ups like why it’s important to them, when did they start coming or hosting? I improvised my questioning after the first two.
The result, I admit, is fluffy. This is a zero drama story. What works though is the tension and release within the music. There is a tiny bit of tension in the narrative, but it basically just remains positive. I knew this could become an infomercial.
This is not objective in that sense. It’s a place and a community that I care about, so I did my best to convey that while remembering this is a film for the public to enjoy. It has to be good for everyone.
It’s also G-rated material. Super family friendly content.
I’m proud of Band of Strangers. And THRU Media is my baby. I’m using that brand to publish content again, and I’m brazenly moving forward on a value-for-value basis. It’s an experiment. If people join the crew, it will be successful, but if it remains myself, it’s not going to work.
I can always keep publishing under the brand, but I really want to make it a unique, artist-driven company, as it was always envisioned.