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by ALLISON LECAIN
Liz Evans first fell in love with The Grateful Dead after high school when she discovered their live performance at Red Rocks Amphitheater, after hating their album she purchased as an eight-year-old. Dan Loiz discovered their music as a heavy metal-loving 15-year-old and was playing in a Dead cover band before he could blink his eyes. And Joseph Gavronsky became a true Dead-Head after meeting his friend, Dead-Head Ted, and falling in love with improvising music. The Grateful Dead’s music (ironically) inspired him to stop doing drugs as he became hooked on their songs.
In December of 2012, The Grateful Dead inspired the owner of Falbo Bros Pizzeria, Luke Mescher, to put together the Grateful Dead Jam. He approached Loiz (guitar and vocals) and Gavronsky (bass and vocals) to be a part of it, and they quickly established a large following. When Falbo’s closed in late August of this year, Evans immediately took the opportunity to offer Avogadro’s Number as the jam’s new venue.
“It was really exciting,” Evans said. “It happened really fast.”
Avogadro’s held its first Dead Jam on September 30, and is now having bi-weekly shows on Mondays at 10 p.m., which will change to Thursdays starting in December. There can be up to 20 members of the jam band at a time, which are all taken-aback by the great following they’ve established.
“At first I was a bit reluctant – I wasn’t sure if there was a market for it,” Loiz said. “It started out really slow and built over time. When Falbo’s was ready to close, it was getting pretty big.”
Avogadro’s offers more space and a large web and social media presence. As a result, the jam band has seen an increase in followers since switching venues, all which they say are very loyal and consistently show up to all the jams.
It is a ‘jam’ in the traditional sense in that it’s free and any musician can come up on stage to play with the band. Each night starts with a 40 minute set from the jam band, then an hour for other jammers, a short set with just the band, then another hour for jammers, and the band closes out the night around 2 a.m. Anyone is allowed to participate – just bring your own instrument.
During this time, there are few people sitting at the tables. Avogadro’s clears out most of the tables to allow people to get up and dance, which they do.
“People were even dancing in the bar,” Evans said. “I felt like there was electric energy, especially at the first show because it was new and so exciting. I’ve never seen Avo’s that excited in ten years.”
Loiz stresses that the jammers need to be aware of each other and offer up their spot to another musician after a few songs, as the event is getting to be so popular that it’s hard to allow time for everyone to play.
The point of the event is to be very inclusive, Gavronsky explained.
“It feels so good, with that family vibe with a room full of energy,” Gavronsky said. “We want to give everyone a chance to play. We want everyone to feel like they are part of what this jam does.”
Without the support of Avogadro’s, the Jam could have faded away. Evans plans to support the Jam through holding special holiday jams, a 4/20 jam, and even a one year jam-iversary this December.
“We’ll do whatever we can forever to keep it free, but still keep our musicians taken care of,” Evans said. “We want to make people be able to experience it because it’s amazing.”
All three of them feel there is such a great following for The Grateful Dead, and this event will continue to grow its family.
“The family that is connected to it is just great,” Evans said. “That’s why I’m so excited about the Dead Jam here.”
Evans emphasized how much this jam fits in with Avogadro’s roots starting in 1971. She describes it as a “friendly, inclusive, hippie vibe” and believes the Grateful Dead Jam and the people who join in reflect that.
“If anyone needs friends, this I like the nicest group of people ever,” Evans said.
This jam is one of the few chances that Dead-Heads get to come together as a group and celebrate this amazing music, which is the whole point.
“The dead jam was never really about any venue, or any musician or any band. It was more about a family,” Loiz said. “We have this fan base that many bands would kill for because they are so loyal and supportive. It’s a family thing, that’s all there is to it.”
In The Works at Avo’s
• Catch this month’s Jam on November 14
• Businesses can sell Grateful Dead-related goods at the jams
• Artist can display work in the bar for one month
• Mama’s Tofu Collective is held in the basement
To take part, contact Liz Evans at firstname.lastname@example.org