In a production-filled music world where songwriters playing a live show stripped-down and acoustic is not hip and fashionable, I’m always amazed to discover how different communities manage to share the work of singer-songwriters in the most beautiful, straightforward and artistically-minded way.
Here’s one of my favorite examples: In the small but beautiful town of Saugerties, New York, exists a wonderful monthly show called the John Street Jam. It’s run by a music-loving couple, Steve and Terri Massardo, who present 8 songwriters in two round-robin rounds of four performers each. The four songwriters sit in a circle in the middle of the room, which is just a chapel space, and the audience sits in a circle around the performers so they’re right up close to the action. The “stage” is set up like a cozy living room, with a big rug and actual lamps. It only costs $5 for the evening. (Check out the above photo — I’m in the burgundy-colored top sitting in the performer circle — neat, huh?)
What’s terrific is that for the performers, it’s a guaranteed friendly audience that has numbered up to 100 in the few times I’ve been a part of it. For the audience, it’s an enjoyable evening with a variety of top-notch talent in different songwriting styles, from folk to blues to rock — so if you don’t like one performer, there will probably be another you love.
In addition, Steve and Terri always host a dinner for the performers before the show — and I’ve met a wide variety of local and touring performers thanks to those camaraderie-filled meals.
Steve tells me he gets an amazing, almost overwhelming array of songwriters who want to play at the John Street Jam — which is a little sad since that means there aren’t a lot of opportunities like it.
However, I know there are a lot of great singer-songwriter venues and opportunities out there — please share if there’s a great one or a unique presentation that you know about!
Cheers ~ Sharon