By Kurt Madar
Pilot staff writer
As Stacy Nadelman's strong, smoky voice belted out the finale of "Devil in a Blue Dress" Sunday night May 11, the fans at Fox's Den leapt to their feet.
Five bands played for the standing-room-only crowd in a jam session that has become a tradition since it started in October.
Though the jam session is now held every other Sunday, this may change due to popularity.
"If we get enough interested people, we will do it every week," said Jan Fox, owner of the Fox's Den.
The jam kicked off as usual around 5 p.m., but people kept trickling in for the next hour. It was a friendly, happy crowd despite the close quarters, and while not everyone danced, almost every head bobbed in time to the music.
"It kicks ass," Joe Pruette yelled over the music. "It's the best gig in town other than a proscribed band night."
The bar does not generally advertise the jam sessions or band performances, instead relying on word of mouth. "They come to me after hearing about the jam from somewhere else," Fox said. "When it started, we only had a handful of people."
For the first time, this session was advertised, and the result was certainly not a "handful of people," whether referring to the bands or the audience of about 70. The bands, including Holy Smoke, Ferguson Brothers, Deja Vudo, Sans Prophet, Hard Rain and Lost Avenue, brought the room alive with music ranging from classic rock to blues.
According to Nadelman, of Holy Smoke, the musicians sometimes blur boundaries by singing with the other bands as she did later in the evening. They sometimes form new ensembles on the spot.
Holy Smoke is a Sunday Jam standard and their bluesy rock sound, smoky vocals and tight rhythm are obviously a crowd favorite. At the last Sunday jam, the band played "Get Ready," "Dirty Laundry," "Radar Love," "Devil in a Blue Dress" and "Heart Breaker." Holy Smoke also played at the Azalea Festival.
Many of the bands are local, including Sans Prophet, a five-member ensemble with a blues fusion style. Sans Prophet will be playing in Gold Beach for the Fourth of July and performing on August 10 for the American Music Festival series that is held every summer at Azalea Park.
Not all the bands are local. The Sunday Jam is gaining momentum and notoriety and has started drawing talent from out of the area. At a recent Sunday Jam, Lost Avenue brought the blues up from Crescent City.
"I love the music. The quality that you find in the musicians is refreshing. I try and come down every Sunday. I mean look at this drummer. You won't find a drummer this good just anywhere," Kelly Bural said.
The Jams were the brainchild of Fox and Chris Mealue, who plays bass for the Fergesons. Though Nadelman wasn't a founder, she was important to the Jams' early success.
"The Sunday Jams started in October but they really didn't get going until November or so," she said.
Fox broke in, "We discovered Stacy here at the Fox's Den. We hadn't really seen anyone who could truly sing before that."
The jams wouldn't be possible without the sound gear provided by Juwat Koommoeng, who sets up all the karaoke systems from Crescent City to Gold Beach. He is also a guitar player, and really got things going Sunday with his rendition of "Black Magic Woman."
"Anytime anyone needs a sound system, he's the one we call," Fox said.