This year's June Jam a smattering of rock, blues, bebop and oh yes, Bruce in the USA. The festival in Houston kicks off at noon Saturday, June 18.
The Boss – almost – is headlining June Jam this year. Bruce in the USA, a Springsteen fanatic’s fantasy, is headlining this year’s festival of music, love and more than its fair share of tie dye.
The decision to forego its typically blues-heavy format and opt for a wider range of genres, including a tribute rock artist, was one President Matt Boller took seriously. With time on his hands while recovering from foot surgery this winter, Boller took to the Internet to research bands and connect with June Jammers young and old.
“This year we’re making a little right hand turn instead of going straight,” he said.
That meant bringing in a little of everything, and capping off the night with Bruce in the USA.
“You can’t go wrong with Springsteen, you either love him or you hate him,” he said. “I’ve gotten nothing but compliments, everyone’s said ‘good choice, good choice.’ I’m stoked.”
With Bruce set, Boller focused on bringing back some of his favorites and enticing newcomers to bring a solid blend to the day. One of his past favorites was Gretchen Emery and Dirty Boots, who played their first June Jam last year.
“She just did a slamming job last year,” Boller said.
For Motown he turned to the bebopping Jimi Smooth & Hit Time, and the R&B infused Kenny Jones and the Jaded Angels. When it came time for alt rock he went to Beyond the Element, and 13:1. He waded into Southern rock territory with Smokin Gunnz. And for good measure he threw in young pups Perception and the Junior Jammers.
But back to that slammin’ Gretchen Emery that Boller was so excited about.
Emery, a Dover native, wants to get the crowd roaring. It’s her ability to transition from a sultry chanteuse vibe to a Janis Joplin-like energy that puts her on Boller’s – and others’ – short lists.
“We like to do stuff that gets us stirred up,” she said.
So maybe we’ll hear a version of “Shakin’ All Over” or “I’d Rather Go Blind.” This year, unlike last year, audiences also will get a few originals along with the covers.
Emery is pumped to play the show again.
“There was just this great sense that everybody was there to have a good time,” she said.
That’s why this year’s Jam will have more fun and games — including toilet seat ring horseshoes. Seriously.
This year’s beneficiaries are the Kent County Vietnam Veterans Memorial, the Children’s Beach House of Lewes and Lake Forest Middle School Band Program.