The weather (and atmosphere) was next to perfect, to load up the family and venture out to Jam In the Park. Duncan Park hosts the free event that is pet friendly, bike friendly, great to bring a picnic and enjoy a whole afternoon of great live local musicians. Spartanburg County Public Library was the sponsor for this time around of the now well known event. We arrived early with Frisbee in hand and bellies full from Sunday dinner.
A short set from the up and coming Donavon Brooks kicked off the beginning of the event. Keep your eye on him for his future is bright. Next up was Local Honey who started off their career in a grassroots effort and a Facebook page and the duo now is playing Jam in the Park along with the newly renovated The Spice of Life. As kids hula hooped and while some adults walked dogs around the park, they did a set of some familiar songs such as “Three Little Birds” by Bob Marley. The flute made an appearance and somewhere Jethro Tull is glowing for the instrument.
After Local Honey’s set, it was time for the only Ukulele band in the whole upstate of South Carolina, with Snidely Sidewinder and the Unrepentant Uke Boys. The mustached gentlemen always are a hit at the event. We got to hear a new song along with the classics such as “You Can’t Tame Wild Women,” “Bright Side of Life” and even a stage rush by my son Christian for a Kazoo solo. Afterwards, a line of kids of all ages lined up to get a free mustache from the fellas. I felt this was a great time to hit the Carolina Shaved Ice stand for the heat was giving me a nice farmer’s tan.
All of the good shade spots were long gone by the time Milgrams 27 had plugged in. I had never seen them live but learned the name came from reference from a social psychology experience on obedience by Stanley Milgram. The music, however, was a range of covers from Van Morrison to Bon Jovi. It became clear these guys like to play a variety of music very well. The heat was becoming more extreme at the hottest point of the day around 4 pm. The park looked like a jig-saw puzzle that wasn’t finished for most folks were in the shade spots leaving a huge gap where the sun shined on. I had seen people grilling out, indulging in some adult beverages, tossing baseballs, reading books, talking with friends new and old, and just enjoying a nice warm Sunday afternoon.
Spartanburg’s premiere modern rock band The Consumers took the stage next. The term “Face Melting” has been used in many of the group’s shows. So, if the heat was to stain your skin, The Consumers were there to finish the job and melt your face. Lead singer Joe Powers is a charismatic front man who is known to have the moniker Austrian Redneck. The band was very dead-on and even made many of the folks come to the alter and out of the shade to experience Face Melting up close. A few Creedance Covers, a tribute to The Big Lewboski “drop in to see what condition my condition was in,” and a few tracks off the new album Fame is Dead, most of the crowd had rushed to Spartanburg Regional for a severe case of Face Melting.
In a day of a great line up of the city’s best, we had one more – Piedmont Bluesman Freddie Vanderford. The Shades, which are Freddie’s eclectic band, were scheduled to perform but sickness caused him to call on his special
friends to fill in. A list of special friends that included thinking man’s songwriter David Ezell, former Emmylou Harris backing singer and Grammy nominated Fayssoux Mclean and rock and roller Matthew Knights. It was billed as Freddie Vanderford but it was a showcase of all four displaying the craft they so much. It was very cool to see how no one was really the star of the show for everyone ping-ponged back and forth, singing songs.
Faysouxx singing Hank Williams Sr is as close to Heaven I have ever been so far. David Ezell is very John Prime/Townes Van Zandt-like, he sings with passion and is a lyrical genius. Matthew Knight’s guitar can match anything ZZ Top ever done and Freddie’s Harp channels the ghost of Peg-Leg Sam. At one point, Freddie mentioned on the mic that it’s cool that Spartanburg has an event like this for free.. “we get to play with our friends, never any trouble and it’s on a beautiful Sunday afternoon.” I couldn’t agree more with that statement. Spartanburg’s Jam in the Park is one event that is a “can’t miss” and it’s FREE.
Today was a sign of unity for the city and for making new friends.
~ Jason Robinson
Jason Wallace Robinson hails from Spartanburg, South Carolina. He’s a writer, storyteller, philosopher, single father raising two children, music lover, dreamer, joker. He writes to speak for the Common Man. He enjoys football and driving around in his ’96 Chevy Lumina adorned with an American Flag and decorative bird offerings.
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