Jammin’ it up; ArtWorks Center opening stage to Austin musicians

The band Spare Parts plays at the 5K Our Way Saturday morning at Hormel Corporate North. The band will be house band for the first ArtRocks Open Jam Session, held on Sept. 25. Eric Johnson/photodesk@austindailyherald.com

The band Spare Parts plays at the 5K Our Way Saturday morning at Hormel Corporate North. The band will be house band for the first ArtRocks Open Jam Session, held on Sept. 25. Eric Johnson/photodesk@austindailyherald.com

Hormel Foods Corp. employee and musician Pete Wangen is well aware of the number of musicians in Austin, and that’s why he’s taking steps to ensure that love of music continues.

Wangen is a driving force behind the upcoming ArtRocks Open Jam Session series at the Austin ArtWorks Center.

An open-mic type of affair, the event will allow musicians to come in and simply do what the title of the series suggests — jam.

 Beginning

Wangen, an employee in the sales support department of Hormel and drummer for the band Spare Parts, came up with the idea while talking with Spare Parts keyboardist Peter Jacobs.

The band, once called The Our Ways, initially was made up of all Hormel employees and played for special events within the company and private parties. After a while, lineup changes brought members from outside of Hormel. It’s what prompted the band to change its name to Spare Parts.

Along the way, Wangen noticed how the love of music has been fostered in Austin.

“I was amazed at the number of musicians in Austin,” Wangen said. “This will be an open forum for those musicians to come and play. Any time you mention the word ‘jam’ musicians flock to it.”

 How it works

“I was amazed at the number of musicians in Austin. This will be an open forum for those musicians to come and play. Any time you mention the word ‘jam’  musicians flock to it.” — Pete Wangen

“I was amazed at the number of musicians in Austin. This will be an open forum for those musicians to come and play. Any time you mention the word ‘jam’
musicians flock to it.”
— Pete Wangen

Spare Parts will play the part of backing band — at least for the first night. Wangen envisions the sessions to run through the end of the calendar year with the possibility of it going longer if the interest is there.

As for how it works? That part is simple. Musicians simply bring their music, their instruments and go to it. It’s purpose is to let musicians play without a whole lot of added pressure.

“Anyone can play and there is no pressure of friend to entertain,” Wangen said. “Just play.”

That doesn’t mean there won’t be a crowd. Admission is free with a cash bar, but Wangen envisions the crowds to be mostly those who come with the musician.

“It’s almost always a person or two or whoever the comes with the musicians,” Wangen said.

While Spare Parts will be the first backing band, Wangen can see other bands stepping in to the role after the first night, though he’s not ruling out Spare Parts playing more than one night.

“There’s the potential of a different host band,” he said. “We’ll do the first, but likely another band will offer.”

 

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