History of Sunbury Open Mic Jam

Written by  Marjery Smith Wednesday, 30 January 2019 14:35
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(Editors note – Marjery Smith sent in the following, with a view towards clarifying some aspects of the article that appeared in the Frontenac News on January 10 on page 1. Once she got started she ended up writing about the entire history of the jam. Her passion for the jam is evident and we decided to run her submission in full. Here it is.)

The Sunbury Open Mic Jam, is on every Friday Night, at the Storrington Centre in Sunbury. There is no admission charged.

Thank you very much, South Frontenac, for your generosity to the community for no hall costs. I opened the Sunbury Jam with my own York amplifier, one microphone w/ stand, one music stand and my guitar, five players, four in the audience; growing each week, and it hasn’t stopped growing since.

In a short time, equipment needed to be updated and purchased, so with donations, this was made possible. Donations also covered the cost of coffee time breaks, and pot luck dinners at least twice a year.

I organized the Old Time Country Music Championship fundraiser at Rideau Acres Campground. Joan & Roy Shepherd and the committee had the big job holding the championship at the Bedford Jam. I have had the honour of being one of the five chosen to receive a volunteer award In recognition of contributions to the citizens Of South Frontenac in 2011. I thank you Elwood Rollins for the nomination.

When I left the jam in 2012, because of bad health, we had up to thirty-three (33) players and a packed house full of people. I still keep the players’ signatures as they waited their turn to play; with photos of all.

In July, 2007, Joan and Roy Shepherd of Oak Flats, Godfrey, began a jam at the 2nd Depot Lake pavilion. In the fall of 2007, they moved to Piccadilly Hall Open Mic Jam- a great success, but still not big enough. In 2009/10, they moved to Glendower Hall on Westport Rd, as the Bedford Open Mic Jam, another great success. The Bedford Jam has been referred to as having more experienced players, where Sunbury Jam was where we came to get the practice and the confidence built up. (then look out, here we come!) In the winter time, when Roy & Joan went to Florida, Judy Albertson Murphy and Jerry Webster took over the jam until Jerry went to live in Equador, South America. Then Wilhelmine & Homer Card and Judy Albertson Murphy and Dave Froats, looked after it until Roy & Joan got home. Now, Roy & Joan once again took over the jam full time in 2018/19 due to health issues of Judy, Wilhelmine and Homer.

In 2012/13, Ellis and Mary Lou Wolfreys, who have the open mic Amherst Island radio afternoon program at 92.1 FM on Wednesdays from 1pm to 5pm, took over the Sunbury open mic jam for me for three years, but they were unable, like me, to deal with transporting the sound system. He continued with other jams that had stationary systems. They are an amazing couple who just give and give. In 2015/16, John Kot, Elwood Rollins, and Wayne Eves took over the Sunbury open mic jam It is still going strong. Thank you, gentlemen! Donations cover expenses of equipment, treats, and sandwiches, coffee/tea. John says he gives prizes to the audience now.

During July and August, Paul Rappell has always held an “acoustic only Jam” in Sunbury, same place of the regular jam. Many preferred the softer sounds of this than the amplified sounds. This is beautiful.

It’s been a truly strong entertaining concert for all thirteen years. There are numerous open mic jams now known and advertised all over the place. Awesome! Thank you, each and every one, playing and/or listening, and leadership, for the joy and comradeship this jam has brought to this community and others. Thank you, Lord.

by Margery Smith

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