It seems that every riverside community of any size, and even some tiny ones, has one: a multi-day, artsy sleepover festival for musicians and their fans.
But not Albany.
The Cool River Jam on Sept. 11-13 changes all of that.
Eleven local bands will be showcased over three days on the banks of the Flint River, a shady, secluded venue south of Plant Mitchell with easy water access. Proceeds from the event will help improve the site for future festivals.
“This venue is perfect for kayaking, canoeing, fishing, swimming, bicycling and primitive camping, This is a group effort to bring a spotlight on all the talented musicians and artists in the area,” said Allison McCorkle, one of the organizers. “People around here always say there is nothing to do, so we’ve taken music, art and the outdoors and packed it into one big experience. This mini-festival is one of many to come, and everyone is invited.”
The bands on tap are influenced by a wide range of sounds and styles: bluegrass, funk, jazz, country, rock-and-roll, Southern rock, and blues. The performances start at 6 p.m. Sept. 11 (Friday) with an open jam on the second stage. The music on the main stage begins at 7 p.m. with Matt Gay and concludes with an 11 p.m. performance by headliner Doctor Louis Sullivan (aka Doc Lou). The music continues at noon Saturday on the second stage (“anyone can bring an instrument and sit in and play,” McCorkle said.). Bands will play on the main stage from 2 p.m. to 2 a.m., including Landis Frier, Jason Carver (3:30 p.m.), The Evergreen Family Band (5 p.m.), Recreational Chemistry (7 p.m.), Evan Barber & The Dead Gamblers (9p.m.), and Ancient Harmony (11 p.m.).
On Sunday, bring a chair and blanket and enjoy the sounds of the Fox Family Band and a family-style potluck dinner about 2 p.m.
“Everyone is invited to bring something tasty to share,” McCorkle said.
All weekend, local artists can display and sell their works in an outdoor gallery, and an artists’ lane featuring handmade jewelry, clothing and furniture. A local artist will be there demonstrating glass-blowing.
The Flint River Outpost will offer discounted rates for shuttle trips to and from the Outpost boat landing and festival. Bring your own canoe or kayak, or rent one from the Outpost.
“It’s a short and beautiful float, perfect for a Saturday afternoon,” McCorkle said.
Camping is primitive under shady oaks and maples. Portable toilets will be on site.
Anyone under 18 must be accompanied by an adult over 21 at all times. Also, “No one will be allowed to leave if intoxicated, so be sure to have a sober ride home,” McCorkle said. “Volunteers have been coming out of the woodwork to help out, and everyone seems very excited about having an event like this come around. Quite a few people have called or e-mailed about donating time, equipment or supplies.”
The all-inclusive fee for Cool River Jam is $15 for weekend campers; or patrons can pay $5 per day plus $5 to bring a cooler.
Written by Kevin Hogencamp.