Calgary is often criticized for its supposed lack of cultural and artistic outlets.
The Jam, however, is Christopher Maric’s rebuttal to the non-believers.
The echoes of live jazz, funk, salsa, gospel, and house music can be heard outside the entrance to Grand Theatre on 1st Street S.W., when The Jam takes place at UBU Lounge.
This monthly gathering of musicians, singers, producers, dancers, rappers and spoken word artists has been a monthly event since December, 2o1o.
Maric conceptualized the idea as sort of a social experiment before it really took off.
“One day it crossed my mind that it would be great to mash all of these musical circles together just to see what would happen,” Maric said in an interview.
“The beauty of The Jam is that many people don’t know each other. People, including myself, are constantly meeting new artists from around the city and country. Many great relationships have formed because of the event,” said Maric.
The evening often starts off in a mellow mood, with jazzy riffs on a saxophone or cool chords struck on a Rhodes keyboard.
As the venue fills in and the energy builds up, dancers from varying backgrounds take over the dance floor.
Dance styles varying ranging from afro-jazz and salsa to break dance and voguing take centre stage as the live band continues to cater to each select genre.
Formerly a Jam dancer, Krizia Carlos is now a manager of the event.
“I was hooked the moment I entered,” says Carlos.
“I guess you can say that socializing, promoting and pitching ideas is how I’m involved.”
As a connected dancer within the underground dance community, Carlos was heavily involved in bringing the dance component to the Jam.
Her past experience dabbling in different dance styles such as hip hop, popping, locking, voguing, waacking, and most prominently, house, has enabled her to meet a variety of other dancers.
Since she became involved, friends of friends have continued to frequent The Jam, and artists from outside the dance community have attended.
Singer-songwriter Khadija Mbowe was recently the featured artist at the Jam.
“I went with my friend and her co-workers and I only agreed to actually sing if her co-worker went first (since she was actually a singer as well),” said Mbowe.
Her first experience singing at the Jam opened her eyes to an open and welcoming community, giving her the courage and opportunity to share her own personal work.
“I actually heard Chris talking about featuring artists and walked up to him after a workshop and just asked him if I could do it and he said yes.”
Since Carlos’ and Mbowe’s involvement, both have found a small niche in Calgary’s budding arts community – both agreeing that involvement is vital.
“I hope that you all take away a sense of community when you come to the event,” says Carlos.
“I’ve never really picked up a mic and just sang improv in front of a crowd before. It’s a different type of cypher. I also hope that this would allow [artists] to try different art forms.”
Mbowe agrees that the Jam is a crucial and beneficial part of networking between artists of different mediums.
“Since meeting other musicians, singers, and even dancers I’ve found new friends and people that are wanting and willing to work with me and my music,” says Mbowe.
“Events like these are what’s helping shape our urban music community. It only makes sense for artist to help promote these things, so they can in intern help promote the artist.”
Despite the regulars being artists, Maric invites everyone to come to the next Jam.
“We are aiming for mid-late November, and still need to finalize the date. We can expect a great party with fantastic music and dancing. Outside of that, who knows what will happen?”
To find more information on the Jam, visit their site, or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.