Better late than never, June Jam ready to rock

Kent Island native and Nashville recording artist Jason Morton will perform with this Chesapeake Sons group Saturday evening to headline June Jam in Houston. A limited number of tickets will be available at the gate at the G&R Campground in Houston.

It may not be June but jam they will.

The 42nd annual June Jam charity music festival will take place Saturday at the G&R Campground in Houston.

“We’re turning October into ‘Rocktober,’” said June Jam founding president Bob Hartley.

After two previous tries were thwarted by the effects of the coronavirus pandemic, June Jam organizers were determined to still have the event this year. Despite other events, such as the Firefly Music Festival, the Apple Scrapple Festival and the Sea Witch Festival being scrapped this year, Mr. Hartley said they didn’t want to let that happen to June Jam.

“Most of the folks in the staff and myself, we just don’t have a lot of quit in us,” Mr. Hartley said.

“By the time we realized we wouldn’t be able to have it, it was difficult for us to pull the plug. We had already bought a ton of T-shirts, had sold a lot of tickets and camping, and it just didn’t make sense then. And to be honest with you, we didn’t want to.

“It’s a 42-year tradition. If there was a way to do it, we were going to have a nice event.”

This year’s jam is headlined by Kent Island native and Nashville, Tennessee, recording group Jason Morton & the Chesapeake Sons, two-time Grammy winner Johnny Neel performing with local blues group lower case blues and a reunion of the local band Hotwire, as well as Petting Hendrix, the Joey Fulkerson Trio and Tenfold Trouble.

Gates open at 10 a.m. with a limited number of tickets available at the gate.

To pull off June Jam this year, Mr. Hartley said they consulted with three other local entities to see how they were able to operate in 2020 — the Delaware State Fair, DE Turf and the Amish Country Bike Tour.

“We got advice from all of those folks and were able to make a 16-page proposal, where we went through everything they did and then some — maybe some other things that they weren’t doing. Just so people can come down and have a good time and make it as safe as we can,” Mr. Hartley said.

June Jam organizers then had to take that proposal to the state to get the OK to hold the event. They received permission just last week.

“They came back to us with some minor requests. We proposed having people back from the stage 10 feet, and they wanted us back 13 feet. So we said, ‘Yeah, we’ll do the minor changes that they requested.’ I think what really tilted it for the folks is that we have 30-some acres there, and we could spread out over 30-some acres, and we only sold half the number of tickets,” Mr. Hartley said.

Wilmington native and two-time Grammy winner Johnny Neel will perform with lower case blues Saturday at June Jam.

“So you know we’re not going to be packed in there. Well, we’re never packed in like sardines. So folks can spread out, get a picnic table, keep your distance from other folks, sit down and have a good time.”

Mr. Hartley said they will be requiring patrons to wear masks as they move about the campground, but then, they can take them off when they are in their area with the people with which they came.

“We’re also going to ask people to sit in front of the stage. In years past, people would get close to the musicians at June Jam. This year, they’ll be back a little ways and we’ll be asking them to be seated within their own group in chairs that they bring,” he said.

As far as the music is concerned, Jason Morton and the Chesapeake Sons owes its sonic heritage to The Black Crowes, The Allman Brothers Band, Lynyrd Skynyrd and The Marshall Tucker Band.

They are managed by Rusty Harmon, who guided Hootie + the Blowfish during its heyday, and the Sons enlisted award-winning Will Edwards to produce their latest album, using the same piano that was pivotal in Derek and the Dominos’ signpost “Layla.”

“They will close the show, and they will do a great job,” Mr. Hartley said.

Damn the Torpedoes, a Tom Petty tribute band, was originally announced to be the headliners, but they had to cancel this year. Mr. Hartley said they will be the headliners next year and those who wish to exchange this year’s tickets for next year’s may do so.

Mr. Neel, who was born in Wilmington, will also be coming from Nashville to perform with lower case blues.

“Johnny has had some health struggles lately. He had a stroke, but he still plays great piano. It’s gonna be a rare occasion for all of his fans in Delaware to see Johnny Neel playing with a great band. He actually produced one of lower case blues’ CDs in the past. So they’re very familiar with each other. So they’ll do very well.”

One of the highlights of this year’s June Jam will be the reunion of Hotwire, a popular area band of the 1990s. Original members Jimi Brown, Chris Foltz, Bill Precourt and lead singer Dale Hamilton will perform Saturday.

“I’ve known those guys for a long time. They are a great bunch. It’s been a few years since they played together,” Mr. Hartley said.

Getting once-popular area bands back together has been a regular feature of June Jam over the years.

A reunion of local band Hotwire will highlight Saturday’s June Jam charity music festival Saturday at the G&R Campground in Houston.

“The fortunate thing is, we’ve been able to get Hyde Park, Jack of Diamonds. The great bands have come back and played for us in the past. They’ll come when I call them. Typically, they want to play a June Jam and they want to play with their old friends and get back out,” Mr. Hartley said.

“So if it’s a big-enough event, they dust off their guitars if they’re not actively playing right now, and come out, and we’ve been fortunate that a lot of great bands come back to play for us.”

The charity aspect of June Jam has always been the hallmark of the event. This year, June Jam will benefit Toys for Tots and Friends of Delaware Veterans.

Mr. Hartley says this is an especially crucial year for Toys for Tots.

“Our former vice president runs Toys for Tots for Kent County, Dennis Sipple, and he’s very concerned that he won’t have enough toys this year. Most likely, there will be more people in bad shape, asking for toys,” Mr. Hartley said.

“Not only are we going to give a large portion of our proceeds to (Toys for Tots), but we’re also asking people to bring a new, unwrapped toy with them, because we know this is going to be a difficult year.

“And then, we have a really close relationship with Friends of Delaware Veterans and all of their services that support veterans. It’s a military town, so we want to support our veterans.”

For more information on June Jam, visit junejam.com.

Old State House concert

Tonight, Delaware Friends of Folk will present the first event in their 2020-21 Old State House concert series, traditionally inside the Old State House on The Green in Dover. The free concert starts at 7 p.m.

Due to COVID restrictions, this show will be held just outside the Old State House, on the Green.

This month’s show features Sussex County native Bryan Scar. As he moved in and out of various bands through high school/college, Mr. Scar developed a unique songwriting style composed of his many influences, including John Denver, Billy Joel and Jim Croce. He draws his inspiration from America’s countryside, his personal journey as an artist, and events in history.

Second Friday

The Second Friday program in Milford will be via Zoom tonight at 7.

This month’s program is in two parts. The first part will feature Rosemary Connelly from the Mispillion Art League talking about and showing ideas for the art league’s Big Draw event currently going on.

The second part will include a discussion about what folks have done during the COVID-19 quarantine and how they dealt with the changes the quarantine has caused.

To attend the Second Friday event via Zoom, send an email requesting registration to 2ndfriday.milford@gmail.com.

Now Showing

New this weekend in theaters is the Robert DeNiro comedy, “The War with Grandpa,” and the musical drama, “Yellow Rose.”

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