Think Jammin’ Got Rained Out? Think Again
Submitted by: Matthew A. Werner
Feature photo by: Christiana Howton
Saturday night at Washington Park, a serene sky relented to a north wind that delivered chilled air and vacillating weather. Ominous clouds rolled off Lake Michigan, followed by a silver sky, then more ominous clouds followed by silver sky. Beer, wine, and food vendors pulled their tents firm to the ground to keep them from blowing away. Onlookers watched the sky with anxious optimism. The ominous clouds won. Thunder and lightning quieted the band on stage of the Guy Foreman Amphitheater and so ended the 2019 Jammin’ with Save the Dunes. Or did it?
Jammin’ kicked off at Washington Park under a friendly sky and pleasant temperature. River Kittens took the stage and played sweet melodies as attendees flowed in, picked lawn seats, and settled in for a great day of music, food, and fun. Adults tasted local food vendors, breweries, and wineries. Kids played and got their faces painted. The River Kittens finished, and Stealin’ the Farm took the stage. Then the storm arrived. People sought refuge under tents, inside nearby storage garages, or raced back to their cars. A few songs in, the weather wiped out Stealin’ the Farm’s set. Food vendors packed up and many attendees packed up too. Nobody blamed them. It looked like it was all going to be a wash.
Save the Dunes was not ready to let the party stop. Behind the big stage was a small room that could hold most of the dwindled crowd. Two rows of folding chairs were put out, small amplifiers dragged out of car trunks, and a makeshift stage established. The next act, The Blisters, were easy going and ready to please the crowd. Lead singer, Henry Mosher, belted out tunes without the help of a microphone, periodically pulling up songs on his phone that would better suit the indoor crowd. It truly felt like a private concert in the neighbor’s basement. People swayed and smiled while the four member group continued to play.
Next up. The main attraction, Waco Brothers, would perform. A few changes were made, microphones were found and folks started pouring in and packing the small room.
Lead singer Jon Langford riffed his guitar and roared into the microphone. The sound from the five-piece band (two electric guitars, bass guitar, mandolin, and drummer) electrified the room and spilled into the cold, dark, damp air. Hopeless stragglers followed the noise and filled the backroom and adjoining hallway. Front row spectators could reach out and shake hands and band member leg kicks sailed past their shoulders. The band delivered again, again, and again as they worked through their catalog of songs. They set the tone—this crowd, this audience, this bizarre venue, this backroom of all places—was nothing less than the most important show they would perform in 2019. Listeners felt it and responded in kind.
The back room culminated a perfect storm of music lovers, musicians, and Save the Dunes devotees. Every seat taken, standing room backed up three, four, five people deep. A makeshift dance floor popped up in a corner next to the band. Waco Brothers smiled, tipped their hand and played on. Song after song after song, Waco Brothers sweated, sang, and drove their instruments for 90 straight minutes. Every body in the room was in motion—toes tapped, torsos twisted, legs danced, heads bopped—and faces bore smiles, smiles, smiles. The band played a quick encore and the fans screamed in appreciation.
Afterward, I chatted with band members.
“We played weirder places,” mandolin player Tracey Dear said after the show, “but, yeah, this was fun. You know it’s good when you can see people down the hallway having a good time.”
“This one was memorable,” said Langford. “It goes in the captain’s log.”
Bass player Alan Doughty summarized the makeshift venue: “Brilliant.”
Save the dunes, save the environment, save the music, save each other, and save the party. That’s why fans come to Jammin’ with Save the Dunes each year and it’s why they will come again next year for the tenth annual event.
Jammin’ is the signature fund raiser of the year for Save the Dunes and it provides much-needed revenue to preserve and promote the Indiana Dunes. The party continues, but beer and ticket sales were lost due to the storms. If you would like to become a member, or make a donation to Save the Dunes, you can do so here.