Band: The Blueberry Jam Sessions
Date: Sunday, Oct. 18 at 2 p.m. (oyster roast at noon)
Venue: Weeks Bay Plantation, 12562 Mary Ann Beach Road (Fairhope), www.weeksbayplantation.com
Tickets: $50 general admission/$100 VIP, available at the Weeks Bay Plantation website and www.liveandlisten.com
Weeks Bay Plantation lies on 88 acres of beautiful land in Baldwin County. This locale is home to the L.A. Berry Farm, which has established a reputation for providing fresh, organically grown blueberries. Now, Weeks Bay Plantation is looking to expand its reputation with the Blueberry Jam Sessions. This new concert series is the project of Montgomery-based production and apparel company Live & Listen, which over the past year has been busy revitalizing the Montgomery music scene.
Since meeting an unidentified investor with connections to Weeks Bay Plantation, founder Jordan Kirkland and his crew are now turning their attention to the Alabama Gulf Coast. Kirkland’s vision of the Blueberry Jam Sessions is to “start a new tradition of bringing live music to Weeks Bay Plantation in a celebration of Baldwin County and Baldwin County bounty,” and to raise money for the Weeks Bay Institute of Sustainable Organic Preservation (WISP). So far, Live & Listen has had a positive experience organizing its first concert in the Mobile Bay area.
“[Weeks Bay Plantation management] thought, with our background and experience in just a year, that it would be a great idea to combine and join forces,” Kirkland said. “They already had a beautiful venue that we could create into an amphitheater and use our relationship with booking agents and artists around the Southeast and the rest of the country to bring something new and exciting and beneficial to the people in Fairhope.”
The fun will begin with a pre-party oyster roast for an additional fee, also offered as an option with a VIP ticket. Chef Randall Baldwin (Dyron’s Lowcountry restaurant) will be firing up 300 dozen oysters. While the crowd slurps these succulent bivalves, singer-songwriter Gove Scrivenor will provide the soundtrack. Scrivenor is truly the epitome of a Nashville artist. His lyrical and instrumental work has caught the ears of people ranging from John Prine to Emmylou Harris, who have both appeared on his recordings.
Judging from Kirkland’s description, the natural surroundings of Weeks Bay Plantation should provide an optimal environment for concert goers. Bands will perform on a 25-to-30-foot stage with “full-blown sound and lighting.” A lake will flank the stage and what Kirkland calls “a natural, grass amphitheater” will lie in the front. Outside food and/or drink will not be allowed, but a plethora of food and beverage vendors will be on hand. This will also be a family friendly event with face-painting and bounce houses. Ultimately, Kirkland’s list of necessities for concert-goers is quite simple.
“Bring your kids, your family and your friends,” Kirkland said. “Bring a positive attitude and be ready to meet new people and try out some new things and hear some new music and celebrate a beautiful day in Fairhope.”
Alabama staples The Gate Band and The Locust Fork Band are scheduled to perform as well as Atlanta band New Madrid. This event will reach a climax with its headliner, The Motet. Blueberry Jam Sessions will mark The Motet’s debut in the Mobile Bay area, but many local festival enthusiasts have caught their sets at Bonnaroo, Wakarusa and Bear Creek.
The Motet is one interesting band with an interesting name, which evolved from a band created by drummer/founding member Dave Watts 17 years ago, the Dave Watts Motet. He arrived at this name after presenting a variety of line-ups ranging from trios to quintets. Every time a line-up would part ways, the name would have to change. Watts came up with a universal name that would be just as versatile as the band’s eclectic improvisational style, which reflects everything from funk to Afrobeat to samba.
“The name is a little bit nebulous, as far as what it means,” Watts explained. “I figured the band’s vibe and sound will change over time, and our vibe is going to change. So, I picked a name that didn’t represent anything, really.”
Over the past few years, the chaotic line-up of The Motet has settled into what Watts calls “a solid entity.” The Motet’s latest self-titled release is a tribute to the band’s solidity. For this album, each member of The Motet contributed to song composition and arrangement. Watts will be the first to admit that this was not an easy task, but the end result appears to be one of his most satisfying musical experiences. Watts admits this process added depth to the album and made it “interesting.”
One of the things that makes the creation of this album interesting is the development of a collective subconscious among the band members. With past albums reflecting such carefree sonic diversity, The Motet built this album on a foundation of funk, a genre loved by the band. In fact, the band loves funk so much that its Halloween shows focus solely on the funk of the ‘70s and early ‘80s.
“[Funk] really feeds into our souls and really gives us the sound and the thing that we have in common, as far as what we like to play and the style of music,” Watts said. “That seemed natural for us to go toward the sound of that last record we made.”
Watts says this will be the last outdoor show for The Motet, and they plan to bring an epic dance party to Weeks Bay Plantation. Meanwhile, Kirkland and the folks at Live & Listen are hoping for a successful turnout and a smooth show. Ultimately, Kirkland sees this first of two Blueberry Jam Sessions to be a test run, not only to see if this musical event is right for Weeks Bay Plantation but also to see if the Alabama Gulf Coast responds well to the event. If the environment is right, Live & Listen has dreams of building the Blueberry Jam Sessions into a two-day weekend festival. Until then, it can’t wait until the public experiences live music on the beautiful lands of Weeks Bay Plantation.
For those who can’t make this installment of the Blueberry Jam Sessions, the next one will be held Sunday, Nov. 22, and will feature The Revivalists, Earphunk, McLovins and Maradeen.