An 18th century jam

An 18th century jam
An 18th century jam
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Who would expect to hear country music, or even big bands swing on the grounds of an 18th century Gothic style plantation house, especially in traditions of the River City. If you’ve ever been to Jammin’ on the James (in its 8th year) you know what we’re talking about. It happens the 2nd Saturday evening of June, July and August at historic Wilton House Museum. These family-friendly lawn shows feature Virginia-based acts and are totally free, although donations are gratefully accepted. Lawn chairs, blankets and picnic dinners are encouraged, as is roaming the beautifully manicured grounds. There are even face painting and craft activities for the kids. By hosting these shows, William Strollo, director of education and public relations, hopes the museum is introduced to a wider segment of the public.

 

 

 

Strollo acknowledges the series has been somewhat under the radar in the wider Richmond community – both a blessing and a curse. The crowd size, usually around 300, is comfortable for the venue, but to ensure the museum’s continued success, reaching a wider audience is the goal. This year, Wilton House is partnering with established music promoter JAMinc to help increase the museum’s visibility in the music community. They promote it by email to their established fan list and feature the series on their website. JAMinc board member Tim Timberlake sees the cooperative effort as a natural for their organization, “Jaminc typically takes the summer off doing shows, so this is a good tie-in and a way to keep the music JAMinc embraces in front of the public.”

 

Andy Vaughan and the Driveline kicked off this year’s series with a well-received set of country classics and originals. Ernest Tubb, Buck Owens and Johnnie Cash were well represented. The band even worked a few Allman Brothers licks into Cash’s “Folsom Prison Blues.” The occasional passing train added to the authenticity of their 2 sets. Driveline has 2 CDs out and will be releasing their latest, “Sinners and Saints!” 7/5 at Hardywood Park Craft Brewery.

 

 

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Jammin’ continues 7/12 with the Tom Cunningham Orchestra, known as the “Swingin’est Band around,” featuring songs by Count Basie, Benny Goodman, Duke Ellington and Glenn Miller. They’ve played the Kennedy Center, the Smithsonian and Wolf Trap. Swing dancing is encouraged. RVA favorite Susan Greenbaum wraps the series 8/9 with her own blend of folk classics and originals. All shows start at 6 p.m. but I encourage you to arrive early since parking can be a bit dodgy – although Wilton House actually has staff working the streets to guide you to available parking and even offers a shuttle service. The free house tours (normally $10) begin at 5 and run every five minutes through intermission.

 

 

 

 

Check out the scene and hear the band:

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