For the first time in its history, this year’s 29th annual Deadwood Jam will be free to all music-lovers, and returns to historic Main Street for the Sept. 12-14 event.
“Number one, we were hoping to have Outlaw Square done in time, but when we saw it was not going to be completed, we decided let’s put the Deadwood Jam on Main Street and make it free to say thanks to all those loyal Jam-goers over our 29 years of history,” said Bill Pearson, who has served on the Jam Board of Directors for its entire life, and the past decade as its chairman.
“We’re doing it to bring people to Deadwood to enjoy our great restaurants and saloons,” Pearson added. “The leaves will also be beginning to turn and for our locals, it’s the last big celebration of the season, so it’s time to kick out the jams in historic downtown Deadwood.”
The three-day festival kicks off Thursday with the annual Art and Jam Auction at Jacob’s Art Gallery on Main Street. Attendees will savor light hors d’oeuvres while bidding on an array of artwork ranging from photography and paintings to sculpture by Black Hills artists. The live auction begins at 4 p.m., while a silent auction will continue through Saturday.
The premiere music festival in the Black Hills features an eclectic mix of performances this year, according to Pearson.
“As far as the music this year, we’re heavy on bluegrass and funk, and of course there’s always rock and roll,” he said. “It’s a unique mix of genres of music.”
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The line-up for Friday includes a triple-header featuring a trio of high-energy acts all known for electrifying performances. Minneapolis-based Frogleg opens the weekend at 5 p.m., followed by The Yawpers, a groove heavy, fire and brimstone punk-blues band from Denver. Friday night’s headliner, from New Orleans, is Big Sam’s Funky Nation. Known for a boisterous blend of funk, jazz, rock and hip-hop, the band will bring a unique blend of sounds from The Big Easy, Pearson noted.
Saturday features a slate of top-notch performers, including My Second Rodeo, one of the hottest Black Hills rock ‘n’ roll bands; Dragondeer, known for stunning audiences with its hybrid of Mississippi Delta Blues and 1960s psychedelic rock; Hillstomp, a junk-box blues duo; and Kind Country, known for its high-energy brand of Cosmic American music. Headlining Saturday’s roster is Leftover Salmon, which has established itself over the past quarter-century ho for more than 25 years, with a mixture of rock ‘n’ roll, folk, bluegrass, Cajun, soul, zydeco, jazz and blues.
But, Pearson said he is most excited to hear Melvin Seals & J G Band, who for 18 years, spun his B-3 magic with the Jerry Garcia Band, helping pioneer and define what has now become known as “Jam Band Music.”
“We’re happy to have Melvin Seals who played with the Grateful Dead for so many years, so if you’re a Deadhead, this will be the year for you,” he said. Pearson noted the Jam stage would be placed between Mustang Sally’s and The Bullock Hotel on Main Street, as it has traditionally been located for events such as Wild Bill Days and Kool Deadwood Nites.
Deadwood Chamber Executive Director Lee Harstad said his organization was looking forward to the classic fall music festival returning to Main Street this year.
“For 28 solid years, the Deadwood Jam’s been a staple for music fans from around the region,” Harstad said. “The Jam was one of the first outdoor music festivals in the area, and it’s stayed true to its roots. This year, we’re bringing the Jam back as a free show with an entertainment line-up that fits the Jam to a T and we’re inviting music fans of all genres to jam with us on Main Street.”