Get your groove on with ArtRocks

Published 6:55 am Saturday, November 10, 2018

ArtRocks Open Jam provides a free venue for musicians to meet and play. Eight times a year, a house band sets up in the ArtWorks Center Second Floor Gallery.

Performers bring instruments (guitar, bass, violin, etc.) and voices. The house band ‘backs’ individual jammers and allows for groups of jammers to get up and play. The result is a safe, encouraging stage for first-time performers and an intimate place for audiences to appreciate local musical talent — those long established and newly emerging.

Ventura Highway serves as the house band at the Jams. Ventura Highway is an Austin-based 1970s tribute band formed in 2015 by four seasoned area musicians: Scott Jasmin (acoustic guitar, vocals), Scott Anderson (bass), Pete Wangen (drums) and Mark Conway (electric guitar). Jasmin is a singer/songwriter who works as a Christian worship leader. Anderson is an Austin native who has been playing the bass since 1966 and was the operations manager of the Paramount Theatre in Austin from 2001 to 2012. Wangen has been playing drums for over 30 years and is a certified professional musician from the Musicians Institute. Conway has been established as a guitarist in southeast Minnesota for decades. Two groups of people attend the ArtRocks Open Jam sessions: audience members and musicians. Jams are designed to help ‘convert’ audience members into musicians. Any audience member can add their name to the list of performers for the event which is kept on a notebook at the concessions bar. When that audience member’s name is called, he/she walks into the house band area and becomes a musician.

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The Jams are designed to make performing accessible. Jams are free to attend and/or perform, held in a gallery room with no physical stage and no spotlight, and hosted by a supportive and knowledgeable house band with an intimate crowd size. The casual venue and format helps ease performance anxiety. Many of these qualities also make the Jams ideal for introducing children and youth to attending live music.

Jams address the top three needs of Greater Minnesota artists as identified by a Creative MN 2017 study: more access to audiences, more reliable access to work spaces and equipment, greater access to fellow artists for peer learning.

Jams are made possible by the voters of Minnesota through a grant from the Southeastern Minnesota Arts Council thanks to a legislative appropriation from the arts and cultural heritage fund.

The next ArtRocks Open Jam Session is 7 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 16 at the Austin ArtWorks Center.

Coming soon at the Paramount Theatre

•$5 Movie: Bridge on the River Kwai at 3 and 7:30 p.m., Nov. 14

$5 Movie: Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, 3 and 7:30 p.m. on Nov. 21

• Jane Taylor Dance’s “Nutcracker,” 7:30 p.m. on Nov. 23. Part of Christmas in the City

Coming soon at the ArtWorks Center

•ArtRocks Open Jam Session: 7 p.m., Nov. 16

Gallery Opening ­— Members Holiday Show: 5 p.m., Nov. 23. Part of Christmas in the City

• $5 Kids Studio: Pie Garland with Jenelle Cummings, 10:30 a.m., Nov. 24