The John Street Jam returns November 7 to the Orpheum Theater in Saugerties

Steve and Terri Massardo (photo by Dion Ogust)

Popular intimate music series the John Street Jam is returning to Saugerties next month after a hiatus of over six years, once again led by husband-and-wife team Steve and Terri Massardo.

Started in January 2004, the John Street Jam was named for its welcoming space in the Dutch Arms Chapel, a hall at the Reformed Church of Saugerties that allowed for crowds of local music lovers to gather for over eleven years. 

“It was the brainchild of Terri Massardo who wanted to create a listening room that was unique to the Hudson Valley,” said Steve Massardo this week. “Over the next eleven years and four months it became bigger that anyone could have anticipated.”

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For those who remember the original iteration of the John Street Jam, the setup was akin to an embrace, the audience of 100 in three rows cradling the performers in an upturned horseshoe shape, evoking good luck through good music. 

“The Jam’s format, four songwriters in the middle of the room with the audience in concentric circles around them, was borrowed from Nashville’s Bluebird Cafeé,” said Massardo.  “This intimacy is what distinguished it from all other venues.”

Between January 2004 and April 2015, the John Street Jam showcased over 400 different musicians for countless music fans.

“Musicians were not paid, but came from staggering distances to experience a true artistic paradise: A rapt, attentive and appreciative audience,” said Massardo. “Imagine driving from Toronto, Boston, Buffalo and New York City to play three songs for free. Still, they always loved to return.”

 The original John Street Jam was held on the second Saturday of every month, plus anytime there was a fifth Saturday in a month. This time around the schedule is a bit more modest, and the location slightly more formal. 

“In its current iteration, the Jam will be held on the stage of the Orpheum Theater under the auspices of Upstate Films,” said Massardo. “It will be a more traditional format in that the audience will be seated in the theater seats with the musicians alone on stage, but they will still be arranged in a tight horseshoe so they can exchange stories, make eye contact, collaborate when appropriate, etc…, while still having a connection with the audience. Thanks to the generosity of Upstate Films, the musicians will receive an honorarium for their services and this first show will be presented at no charge to the public.”

The John Street Jam’s schedule will be less firm in its rebirth. 

“Because the theater will be home to many different events, the Jam might only happen four or five times in the coming year, but it is guaranteed to be a good time and only the very best musicians and songwriters will be showcased,” said Massardo. 

The John Street Jam returns on Sunday, November 7 with performances by Mark Brown, Dick Vincent, Julia Nichols and Jim Pospisil. Each performer will play three songs, with the first date of the Jam’s return expected to last for around an hour.