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Interview with Christopher Vidal about Jam Tree

By Gary Wien

originally published: 02/25/2006

Christopher Vidal is Executive Assistant Director for AERIA Entertainment L.L.C. - we spoke with him about Jam Tree, a weekly show AERIA is putting on Tuesday nights at the Saint in Asbury Park, NJ.

Q) How did the idea for Jam Tree come about?
A: From the looks of the soles of my shoes and the odometer of my car, it seems to have been a long journey to center. I have traveled far and wide to see improvisational music for the past 9 years. From the Northern tip of Maine to Southern Florida, out West and everywhere in between. I even found myself in the middle of the Caribbean ocean, on a cruise ship filled with 20+ bands, and six stages this past January.

These events that I attend seem to always have sit-ins or all star jams at the end of the night. We?ve all seen a special guest or two at a show...

We have so many great musicians in the area, that I though it could work at home too. Special guests every night?you know. People creating music just to play. To uncover something new and have a musical conversation.

Q) What are your goals and hopes for the show?
A: First and foremost, to keep it spontaneous. Music has a way of sounding the best when it is fresh.

Goals?well, the Saint always relies on bands for the draw. I would like to bring JamTree to a point that Tuesdays are good at the Saint, period. Where you don?t have to call ahead for the schedule, you just know it?s a great night. Who knows, maybe I?ll even have it catered.

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Also to have it become an arts and cultural event. Starting this week I have Josh Reinhardt and Hexcalibur Productions bringing in artists, Christine Bush, and Jesse Rynu . Steve Dundas will also be on hand with his amazing portfolio of photography. Maybe improvisational art inspired by the music of the moment?

Another thing I would really like to see is the national acts getting involved in the JamTree, mixing it up with the local talent. Nothing like getting shredded by the local talent...eh? I kid...

Q) Is there a different band featured every week?
A: Canyon has residency for the first month, but going along with the main inspiration for JamTree, there is an ever changing lineup. It is, after all, an improvisational show. The idea is to book two different bands each week. The JamTree begins when the second band plays their last note.

In March we have booked The John Ginty Band for the first three weeks. John Ginty is renowned B3 Hammond organ player from right here in our ever eclectic state of New Jersey. He has played with the original Robert Randolph and the Family Band, Citizen Cope, Santana, Jewel, and The Blind Boys of Alabama, just to name a few. We also have Jerry Joseph on April 11. These acts will of course be paired with the abundance of local talent teaming from the streets of central Jersey.

Q) Do you think the idea of JamTree will appeal to all musicians or just those who are involved in the so-called Jamband scene?
A: The "JamBand" scene is comprised of every type of music. The term Jamband is a way to pigeon hole music that is eclectic in its origin. I?ve seen punk rock become bluegrass, turned into standard jazz and back again in the same session.

If you love music, you love music. That?s all there is to it.

Q) Is Jam Tree a limited time thing, or will it continue larger than February?

A: Well, Scott Stamper gave me the opportunity to do this night. As usual Scott is doing something creative and diverse for the scene.

As of right now we are booked through May. JamTree will exist as long as there are musicians and an audience that believe in it. It is a tree for a reason. Tree?s grow, and have many branches.

Q) What is it about the art of Jamming that appeals to you?
A: Have you ever seen a painter bring a painting to life right in front of you? Going from a blank canvas to an elaborate scene, how they get the colors to mesh perfectly to create something you have never seen before? Have you seen a chef put together a good meal? They begin with the garlic...

That?s kind of the way I feel about improvisational music. You get to see these players come together as separate entities while creating something entirely whole. They are able to feed off each other and challenge each other to make the best music possible in that very moment. Push the boundaries of a "song" and actually have a conversation.

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Music is still our most articulate language.

Q) What was your favorite moment/Jam so far?
A: Seeing the JamTree come to life on the first night was inspiring. As soon as the last note was played by Canyon, musicians of all backrounds took to the stage. Members of Days Awake joined members of Woodfish, Canyon , The Texas Snowmonkey Sanctuary, Last Perfect Thing, Asbury and Ocean Grove residents and musicians. At one point I remember counting 14 musicians on stage, at the Saint! The music was inspired and cohesive taboot!

Q) Finally, will you and others from AERIA be taking the stage as well?
A: You have to come and find out...

Gary Wien has been covering the arts since 2001 and has had work published with Jersey Arts, Elmore Magazine, Princeton Magazine, Backstreets and other publications. He is a three-time winner of the Asbury Music Award for Top Music Journalist and the author of Beyond the Palace (the first book on the history of rock and roll in Asbury Park) and Are You Listening? The Top 100 Albums of 2001-2010 by New Jersey Artists. In addition, he runs New Jersey Stage and the online radio station The Penguin Rocks. He can be contacted at gary@newjerseystage.com.



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