Jerry Jams Jerry Cares

A Charitable Tribute to Jerry Garcia

It took three CDs for local artists to pay tribute to Jerry Garcia. The charity Jersey Jams, Jersey Cares has celebrated the 40th anniversary of the Grateful Dead, along with Garcia's 65th birthday, and commemorated the 10th anniversary of his death with the release entitled "Jerry Jams, Jerry Cares: A Charitable Tribute to Jerry Garcia".

"We could have brought out a fourth CD, but we didn't have the money, and the final product wouldn't have sounded as good," said Bob Makin, the organization's founder and a local music journalist.

Makin said he was not surprised that so many bands wanted to pay tribute to Garcia. The album includes thirty-six musical tributes to Garcia such as "Sugaree," performed by Soulfarm with T. Lavitz, the David Grisman Quintet's version of "Dark Star," and Railroad Earth's performance of "Catfish John."

"(Garcia) is the greatest influence in the jam band scene and a big influence on many roots musicians and singer-songwriters, which is the three types of music featured on 'Jerry Jams,'" Makin said. "Also, bands have been very generous to Jersey Jams Fund with their time and talent, frequently donating it when called upon to do so."

Makin formed Jersey Jams after the terrorist attacks of 9/11 to raise money to produce scholarships for New Jersey children. The charity continued with its original CD, "Jersey Jams Jersey Cares: A Charitable Tribute to the New Jersey Families of Sept. 11" which featured artists such as Robert Randolph & the Family Band, John Eddie and Glen Burtnik. Since then, the charity has raised $49,000, a figure which Makin expects to increase significantly.

"This is definitely a much bigger project than our debut CD, "Jersey Jams, Jersey Cares," and the CD release parties in support of it should raise about five times as much money, which would be about $50,000," he said.

The organization's success, Makin said, can be attributed to his own determination and that of a handful of volunteers, along with generous support from artists and the sponsors "to turn as many kids as possible onto music and to serve as an example of how cooperation and creativity can make a better community."

"It's also a really good cause, turning kids onto music - whether it be because they lost their folks on 9/11, have an opportunity to attend a free event in tribute to a music icon like the Beatles, Count Basie or Jerry Garcia, or live in a school district that can't afford a good music program," he said.

Mirroring the Grateful Dead's spirit of giving, the organization hosted a number of charitable shows to support the CD during August.

"The band often performed for free in their early days and often performed benefits when asked to," Makin said.

Those wishing to order "Jerry Jams, Jerry Cares: A Charitable Tribute to Jerry Garcia" can send a check for $20 per copy made out to Bergen County United Way, with Jersey Jams Fund in the memo, to Jersey Jams Fund, 33 Aberdeen Road, #355A, Matawan, NJ 07747.

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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 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.