Local Jams 2004

Chris Grenda's Plans For The Future

Local Jams continues to outdo itself. This year's Local Jams 2004 event - held at the Stone Pony Aug. 22 - had more bands, a bigger sponsor and larger crowds. It's remarkable to think that an event which began as the G-Fest at the Brick VFW in 2001 has grown as it has.

The event has set forth a spirit of cooperation among the bands involved. It has also become a way for fans of one great band to sample another.

Each year, organizer Chris Grenda (a/k/a singer/songwriter/guitar player Mr.G) has put together solid line ups. As a result, audience members have been afforded the chance to listen to great music while they wait for a friend's band or the featured act.

Line-ups in past years have included the now defunct Slowdrown and scene mainstays Brown and Madjul. The tradition of big-named acts continued this year with a roster which included Grenda's own Mr. G (www.mrgsmusic.com), Skyline Rodeo (www.skylinerodeo.com), Sprout (www.thesprout.com), Friends of Bill Wilson, Beggars Canyon (www.beggarscanyonband.com), Strength in Numbers (www.strengthinnumbersband.com), Pray for Death and Burn the Tyrant.

The success of Local Jams, Grenda said, has drawn the interest of other club owners and, in this writer's opinion, will continue to build into an anticipated event at the Jersey Shore.

Chorus and Verse recently asked Grenda a few questions about Local Jams 2004.

How did Local Jams fare this year in comparison to past years?

The show this year was more successful than any other year; not only in terms of money coming in the door but for the hype, the actual performances and, most importantly, the maturity of the bands on the bill. I was very impressed with the professionalism of everyone. Plus, the show is now sponsored by Budweiser True Music. I always knew it is a good show and it will get its well-deserved recognition.

Why do you think it is drawing support?

I know in my heart that it's drawing support. A beer company [like Budweiser] does not put its name on something it doesn't have faith in. That is only part of it though. Other club owners at various venues have approached me about having the show at their clubs. Somehow some interest is out there. Plus, I have bands calling me each year that want to play the show. I have to give much credit to The Pony for all they have done for us over the years. They really did treat us with the highest respect and made us feel very comfortable all day long.

Do you have plans for any future events?

I want to take Local Jams to another level next year. I want to rotate venues and get Budweiser to promote the shit out of it. My dream is to have Local Jams on tour someday; every summer, multiple cities, giving local bands everywhere great exposure and a chance to be heard.

What type of support did you get from the performing bands, fans and other scene members?

Wow! The support of the bands is just overwhelming. It's so hard to put into words how much all the bands mean to me. This is real-live dream stuff here that they help me with. I got nothing but positive support from all the bands. I have been friends with Friends of Bill Wilson for a while now and [the band's lead singer] Damien has become a friend. I truly look up to the guy. He is a wonderful talent. And the guys from Beggars Canyon and Sprout were always ready to do anything for the event on the drop of a dime. Kirk Singer from Beggars Canyon hooked us up with a nice gig in Seaside with them this year, too. It just shows how much of a handshake the scene is. I only wish that all bands could get along like the bands that I deal with. They are all class act guys.

Again, the treatment from the venue was perfect. It's impossible to put into words the amount of love I felt. Oh yeah, and the sound guy was great, very professional. We all got compliments on the sound.

The fans are what it's all about. They come out and support the acts. We brought 300 people to the Pony this year. That is a wonderful thing for all of us to get that support. Without people coming out, we don't have a show. Now we just have to get the promotional side rolling to let everyone know when it goes down.

What else do you think is needed to keep the scene going?

I knew the big question was coming.

My views on the scene: I think the scene is much better than when I came along 10 years ago. Obviously, there are some good relationships being formed between clubs and bands, other than the usual original rock clubs. I think our scene has developed some new venues. Even though they are not new, in terms of existence, [they are] just new to letting original acts play. It's a good thing.

The entertainment companies like Max Cruise and Concerts East are letting original acts play more shows with nationals now. That's always been a huge thing in my eyes. No national shows equals less exposure. The only thing I still frown upon is the lack of collaboration between cover bands and original bands. There are some great venues out there that could help to launch some great original acts. I see it this way: the cover bands are already going to bring the people to the venue. Put some original bands in front of some people to help them get exposure. I think if some of the more popular clubs could manage to work in that collaboration, we could have a music scene as tough as L.A. and Seattle. They do it there, I have seen it.

Josh Davidson

Josh Davidson has written music feature articles for Jersey Style and served as the Jersey Shore rock columnist for Steppin' Out Magazine. Other music writing credits include Aquarian Weekly, Jersey Beat, Backstreets and njcoast.com. He has written free-lance for the Asbury Park Press' Community Sports section and has written featured articles for its news section, as well as covering campus news and sports weekly for the Signal, the College of New Jersey's (formerly Trenton State College) student newspaper. He has worked as a staff writer for The Independent, and his work for Greater Media Newspapers has also been published in the News Transcript. He is a former beat reporter for the Ocean County Observer who presently is a news writer for Symbolic Systems Inc. supporting the US Army's Knowledge Center. His music writing covers a vast range of topics, from the current cover band craze, highs and lows of the original scene, to the early days of the Jersey Shore rock scene in Asbury Park. He is also a musician, having written hundreds of songs as a singer/songwriter, and playing them out as a solo/acoustic artist. He has also played with cover bands, including It Doesn't Matter, and several original bands, including as the guitarist for the solo project of singer/songwriter Dave Eric. He continues to work on solo material and is presently the guitar player for Jersey Breeze.