The inaugural Canyon Jam at Colorado’s iconic Mishawaka Amphitheatre features several of the jam scene’s “Next Phase” of bands, such as Spafford, The Main Squeeze, Aqueous, Mungion, Organ Freeman, Cycles, Moves at Midnight, and Jus’ Sayin’. The two-day event takes place on September 8th and 9th, and is looking to be an annual affair boasting some of the jam scene’s top young talent. With the event just several weeks away, we decided to catch up with members of each band on the lineup in this new Live For Live Music interview series dubbed Road To Canyon Jam.
Having already discussed the upcoming event with Cycles’ guitarist Patrick Harvey and drummer Michael Wood, the second installment of the series features drummer Rob Houk of Buffalo-based jammers Aqueous. Houk relates the art of the jam to baking a cake and discusses how Colorado has one of the most vibrant music scenes in the country. Tickets for Canyon Jam are currently on-sale and can be purchased here. For event updates and additional information, join the Facebook Event page.
L4LM: The nature of Canyon Jam centers around the art of the “jam.” What, in your opinion, are the key ingredients to make up a solid improvisation?
Rob Houk: Let’s say you’re baking a cake, but you’re making it with three other people and there are a lot of people watching. You have to find the right ingredients right there on the spot that work together, without overpowering everyone else’s flavors. Improvisation, like baking, takes time, patience, skill, and, most importantly, passion. When you’re with three, four, five or more other people, it’s very important to listen to what the others are saying while they add their ingredients so the cake comes out the way you want. Some nights, that cake tastes better than others. But it’s still cake, and cake rarely sucks, so have fun with it!
L4LM: Because Canyon Jam is in its first year and given the location and the lineup, what are you most excited about for Canyon Jam?
RH: I think we are most excited to be hanging with our friends, Mungion, Spafford, etc., at such a legendary venue. We have created a bond with these dudes, and it’s just a great time when we are all in the same place together.
L4LM: In their earlier years, bands like Phish, The Disco Biscuits, and String Cheese Incident performed at the Mishawaka. Do you ever put any thought into bands that have played iconic venues before you and how that relates to your own career?
RH: Definitely. It’s so cool to know that people you have looked up to your whole life have been on the same stage. It’s hard to describe how cool that is. I don’t necessarily compare it or relate it to where we are at career-wise—it’s just an honor to be there.
L4LM: The Mishawaka is known for its intimate and gorgeous setting. How does a venue’s vibe affect how you go into a performance?
RH: A venue with a great vibe provides a built-in energy to play a show. It’s almost as if the energy from the people who have been there before somehow sticks there and never leaves. It just keeps building. Usually, the staff, stagehands, etc., are happy, smiling people, and it makes for a more relaxing scenario as you walk on stage.
L4LM: Playing Colorado, in general, always seems to bring out the best in bands. Why do you think that is?
RH: Colorado has an absolutely killer music scene. There are so many great acts playing shows there almost every night. With that in mind, I think every musician wants to put on the best show they can because the bar is set so high.
6 pm – Doors
8 pm – 9 pm – Moves at Midnight
9:30 pm – 10:30 pm – Mungion
11 pm – 1 am – Main Squeeze
4 pm – Doors
6 pm – 6:40 pm – Jus Sayin’
7 pm – 8 pm – Cycles
8:30 pm – 9:30 pm – Organ Freeman
10 pm – 11:30 pm – Aqueous
12 am – 2 am – Spafford