Mon, May 13, 2013.
New Brunswick has lots of music festivals through the summer months, some of them very big, and some quite small. Here's one that limits the number of guests to just 200, thanks to its unique setting, and to give the audience the best experience they can. It's called Ham Jam, and takes place on Belleisle Bay June 07 - 09. There's music, nature, swimming and of course, pork products.
Ham Jam started, as so many do, as a party for some friends. Organizer Alex Quinn says it was a way to celebrate the nice weather arriving. "Myself and a group of friends started Ham Jam to be the first gathering of the year, to get out of winter. We had a pig roast, and we just jammed around the fire. Then we decided if we were going to keep doing it, we should bring in some bands. Then we found out about Camp Pascobac."
Camp Pascobac is just outside Kars, on the Belleisle Bay. For years, it was a children's camp, and generations of locals attended it in the summers. But it lost its sponsorship and its government funding a few years back, and was falling into disrepair. In recent years, local people started a not-for-profit group with the goal to eventually restore it. The original Ham Jam friends decided they wanted to help. "It's located on the water front, a beautiful beach, a nature trail," Quinn explains. "It goes back to the 1700's. "You can rent it for a day, a week, the whole summer if you want, for weddings, corporate groups, family reunions. The camp itself doesn't have any more government funding. We're trying to get it up and more attractive, modern amenities, and hopefully we can partner with other groups soon and have it back to where it can be a summer camp for kids again, when the Y's Men used it in the past."
So it's pretty much a camping-food-music party for a fun cause, over three days. This year, the jam features such artists as Thom Swift, Brent Mason, Earthbound Trio, Jim Blewett and the Swing Cats, Acres And Acres, The Keith Mullins Band and many more. Blewett, along with his partner Tim Isaac, has been a fixture of the event, and this year, the duo promise a rare return to the stage. "This will be about the only place where you'll see Tim and Jim play together these days," confirms Quinn. "And one of the great things is that it really is a jam with them. They get up and play a couple of songs, and then invite others up, it's a different kind of show."
And it's a different kind of festival, one that is very family-friendly. "It's an all ages event, we don't sell alcohol," says Quinn. "Tickets are fifty dollars until the15th of May, and that includes parking, camping, and a pulled-pork sandwich on Saturday. After the 15th, it's $60. If people do want to pop in for just Saturday, it's $40 at the gate." Tickets are available at Backstreet Records in Saint John, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org
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Bob Mersereau has been covering music, and the East Coast Music Scene since 1985 for CBC. He's a veteran scene-maker at the ECMA's, knows where the best shows and right parties are happening, and more importantly, has survived to tell the tales. His weekly East Coast music column is heard on Shift on Radio 1 in New Brunswick each Wednesday at 4'45. He's also the author of two national best-selling books, The Top 100 Canadian Albums (2007) and The Top 100 Canadian Singles (2010).