Get ready for January Jams

Lynn Waickman, left, plays a recorder while James Coleman plays ukulele and sings at the Upper Jay Art Center’s January Jams Sunday, Jan. 7. The large instrument made of plywood standing next to Waickman is also a recorder, one with low octaves close to that of a cello. (Enterprise photo — Griffin Kelly)

UPPER JAY — I’ll admit it. I am a January Jams fan boy. Not only is it a place for interesting music, free local beer and spiral ham, which I will partake in this year because I quit my vegan diet due to high bilirubin levels in my liver, but it’s an event that brings people together.

The Upper Jay Arts Center and Recovering Lounge will start up it’s yearly open mic night event, January Jams, this weekend. The event is every Sunday in January from 2 to 6 p.m.

Local musician John Coleman put it best when he said, “people become desperate for community this time of year.”

He’s right. It’s cold. Traveling is hard. And I ain’t seen the sunshine since I don’t know when. January Jams is an outlet that promotes both creativity and communication.

Because of the weekly open mic, I met five people whom I wrote stories on later. One was Eric Bright who makes his own guitars from submerged logs in Schroon Lake; another was Caitlin Bloom, a talented singer and snowboarding instructor at the Whiteface Mountain Ski Center; the third was Emma Silverstein, a potter who played music on a single floor tom drum and Casio miniature keyboard; and finally there was Michael and Julia Devine of the pop-rock band Famous Letter Writer with whom I feel like I’ve become good friends.

From left, Don Vicaro, Steve Fulton and Erena Fulton perform at January Jams at the Upper Jay Art Center. (Enterprise photo — Griffin Kelly)

The Recovery Lounge is not a bar, so you don’t have to worry about drunk loud mouths drowning out the music or a game of pool interrupting a set. People are there for the music and the camaraderie. Even if you mess up on stage, which I totally do all the time, the audience claps and makes you feel welcome.

In a season where it’s hard to get out of bed and hit the snooze button on my iPhone over and over, January Jams gives me something to look forward to on the weekends.

One of my favorite lines from last year that showed me how much this event means to people came from Shawn Lamarche. She and her husband moved to AuSable Forks a few years ago from Florida. Normally they go back south for the winter, but not in 2018.

“My husband told me. ‘No. We can’t miss January Jams,'” she said.

Yannig Tanguy, left, and Julie Robard, right, entertain a crowd of guests at January Jams with Adirondack fiddle music at the Upper Jay Arts Center. (Enterprise photo — Griffin Kelly)

If you go…

What: January Jams

Where: Upper Jay Arts Center, 12198 Old Route 9N, Upper Jay

When: Ever Sunday in January from 2 to 6 p.m.

How much: By donation

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