Chessie Jam – Baltimore’s kid fest

I always admire people who think big and do something for the love of it. Such was the case with Alexis Jenkins, a Baltimore-area promoter and mother of two who decided to combine both into a music and fun festival for kids. To my knowledge, it’s never been done here in Baltimore. Sure, we’ve had our kid concerts and bands like Milkshake at some family-friendly festivals. But nothing on such a big scale and specifically for kids.

Alexis called her festival Chessie Jam, making her festival logo Chessie, a yellow sea monster. Legend goes that Chessie was/is a sea monster swimming in the Chesapeake Bay. This Chessie was kind and loved kids of course, and Alexis brought Chessie to life for the Jam, hiring a mascot dressed as Chessie to dance and play with the kids. She also hired the Oriole Bird, since all of Baltimore had orange fever at the time, our beloved O’s taking the ALC.

My mom with the Oriole Bird.

My mom with the Oriole Bird.

Lisa, Justin Roberts and Mikel.

Lisa, Justin Roberts and Mikel.

The Jam was set for Saturday, October 4th and besides Milkshake, Alexis booked Justin Roberts, Recess Monkey, Father Goose, and Lalabibi and had Biz Markie spinning tunes in between. There was the usual kid fare of moon bounce, face-painting, balloon art and various kid-centric kiosks set up around the theatre, and the day turned beautiful after morning clouds. I was especially excited to see Father Goose again after all these years, and finally meet Justin Roberts and all of the guys from Recess Monkey, both two kid bands I admire.

Father Goose looked ageless and the only sign of time passing was his little boy, who now joined him on stage. When Milkshake was starting out we had been part of a tour for kids called Jamarama.  We played a few tours, the first in 2005, with Laurie Berkner, the second in 2006 with Dan Zanes. At the time, Father Goose joined Dan on stage and they shared billing. It was great fun and there are many stories to tell, but that’s for another blog.

After doing what we usually do before a show –  set up our green room, blow up baseballs, the earth ball and make sure things are all ready to go – we chatted with Angelique Redmond, a woman starting an online kid radio station here called KINKX KIDS RADIO.  Angelique is really excited about the station and we look forward to watching its progress.

Glenn rocks.

Glenn rocks.

Glenn (barefoot), Shepp, Alan of Sirius, Lisa & Mikel

Glenn (barefoot), Shepp, Alan of Sirius, Lisa & Mikel

For this show, we welcomed back musician extraordinaire Glenn Workman, who would be filling in for Brian on keyboard and accordion. Glenn had played with us years ago and it was fun to work with him again. Glenn has a complete disdain for shoes of any kind, and his feet do look hobbit-like after years of walking the world barefoot. I remember Glenn accompanying Mikel, Shepp and I to a recording session at Sirius Satellite Radio and, yes, he walked NYC shoeless.

The afternoon was a blast, and I loved seeing kids and families enjoying what was a great festival exclusively for them. I’m looking forward to the Second Annual Chessie Jam Festival in 2015.

Special thanks to Lorionna Miller, Bill Auth and Linda Miller for the following pictures from our performance.

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