After two successful events, the Civic Media Center will host its third biweekly Open Jam and Art Show on Friday, Sept. 15. The free event will showcase local musicians and artists in a creative and interactive environment.
Starting at 8 p.m., the Civic Media Center staff and volunteers will set up a drum kit, microphone and bass amplifier in the library of the media center while allocating the space in the courtyard for acoustic performances.
As was done on Aug. 18 and Sept. 1, musicians will get together on Sept. 15 to play their own songs, play with new people and gain exposure to different styles and techniques.
Visual artists will be encouraged to “present, disperse, sell and create their unique expressions” throughout the media center, creating a collaborative synergy between music and art, according to the press release.
The Civic Media Center was founded in 1993 with a core mission that has remained consistent throughout the years: to provide access to information and perspectives that are left out of the mainstream corporate media.
“Art and culture are always part of that (mission),” Civic Media Center coordinator James Schmidt said.
Schmidt is the only paid staffer at the center. The rest are volunteers. The center’s core funding comes from its membership program.
“We’re a community-supported autonomous organization. We use our space for progressive grassroots community organizing,” Schmidt said. “Groups can host meetings, workshops, film screenings and arts and cultural events like the Open Jam and Art Show.”
With the loss of venues like The Jam and Tim & Terry’s, musician and Civic Media Center board member Matthew Barker felt that Gainesville had lost the space for an open and creative jam type environment.
“There are many open mics around town, but no open electric jams that I know of where the kit, bass and guitar amp are provided,” Barker said. “Also with us, there’s no sign ups, it’s all improvisation.”
The second show had more than double the turnout than the first, thanks to word-of-mouth and the clothing vendor and volunteer bartender Barker invited to the event.
“I’d like the possibilities for future shows to be flexible. Perhaps we’ll have a band or two play, have a visual jockey presenting on the projector and have an artist decorate the whole place with an install,” Barker said. “I want others to feel free to approach me with any cool ideas they have for future events. I imagine the next one will be a blast.”
One band that played on Sept. 1 was The Rick Ryan Band, of which Barker is a member. The band is comprised of members Gray Spengler (drums and vocals), Matthew Barker (bass), Matty Pelletier (lead guitar) and Rick Ryan (lead vocals and rhythm guitar). Ryan formed the band over a decade ago with Barker and Pelletier joining in the last two years.
Ryan says that the band’s musical style leans toward folk punk. He calls the group an “all-original band,” and thus it is difficult for the group to develop a good following.
“No one knows us, but with the material we got, we usually win,” Ryan said.
A recent win for the band was at the most recent Open Jam and Art Show where they played their newest song, “Sanctuary City.”
Two years ago, Ryan suffered a heart attack after a performance. Looking to the band’s future, he is playing it by ear.
“I’ve got a few handicaps associated with the heart attack, but it doesn’t happen while playing onstage,” Ryan said. “The best thing I can do physically and mentally is play with the band, so I’ll see how long I can go.”
The next show will take place at the Civic Media Center at 8 p.m. on Sept. 15. Musicians are asked to bring their own guitars. Admission is free, but donations are appreciated.