Show Review – Jimmy’s Earth Day Jam, 4.24.10, Tree Farm, Middletown, OH

Written by Jimmy Cummings
Photos  by Chubby Howard

The threat of pounding rain and tornado warnings did not stop fans from honoring this great planet of ours by celebrating Jimmy’s Earth Day Jam at Tree Farm in Middletown, OH. Saturday April 24th also marked the final event to be held at Tree Farm, so there was much to celebrate. Due to the rain, the event was moved inside the barn, but the bands or the fans did not seem to mind. The festival line-up was Clayphish, Randy Roark, Trunk Bound Regime, Burnt Grass, Magic Jackson, Tony Herdman, and The Werks. What a line-up for the last jam at the farm.

The event began with Jimmy welcoming everyone and thanking them for coming out in the rain and then he introduced the opening act. Clayphish, out of Dayton, Ohio gave the crowd a pounding with their own brand of musical improvisation. Influenced by such groups as Govt’ Mule, Phish, and Widespread Panic, the three band mates; James Zornes on drums, Josh Schuler on guitar, and Ian Smith on Bass/Vocals began their night with an instrumental number called Voodoo Trance. The group’s form of progressive and psychedelic rock added a great vibe and got the crowd moving. Adding to the atmosphere was a great light show provide by High Voltage Stage Lighting. The combination got fans in the mood to rock; and the mood only intensified as the night went on.

Following Clayphish was 17 year old Randy Roark. Randy offered up his brand of folk/rock and kept the crowd moving. This was Randy’s first time on stage but he handled it like a professional. Next up was the beat of Trunk Bound Regime who gave the crowd a great combination of Rap and Hip-Hop that definitely got the barn thumping. The group Burnt Grass followed with their distinctive blend of great bluegrass and humor that had everybody’s toes tapping.

Magic Jackson, another of Dayton’s finest took the stage and almost set the barn on fire. Well not literally, but band did light up the stage. The crowd was primed and ready, but energy level rose as the band began to play what can be described as a fusion of rock and funk. The group consist of Nathan Lewis, guitar/vocals; Jeff May, guitar/vocals; Justin Moore, Drums; Mike “McNasty” Mckewen, bass. With influences that range from James Brown, Sly and the Family Stone to The Beatles and Jimi Hendrix, Magic Jackson has forged a sound that is all their own. Songs like Daddy’s Funk and fan favorite My Name is Money truly give a glimpse into the talent that this group demonstrates with every show, tonight was no exception. The band was electric and they warmed those of us in the crowd who may have gotten a little wet on the way in to the barn.

Tony Herdman, also from Dayton, was next up. Tony was scheduled to play between Magic Jackson and The Werks so he had his work cut out for him; but he handled it like a professional and was very impressive. He would also later be joined on stage with some very special guests. Norm from The Werks provided Tony with some help on keyboards and vocals; and was joined later by the rest of his band mates, with Christine McNabb joining in on the fiddle. One song that highlighted the set was a cover of Tom Petty’s Last Dance with Mary Jane; and Tony got the fans into it. Tony is a great musician and has a great presence on stage and you could see it in the crowd’s reaction, he definitely set the stage for what was to come.

Many of the bands in festival are from the Gem City, including the final band of the night, The Werks. Perhaps one of the busiest bands in the area, with certainly one of the biggest followings, The Werks took the stage and wasted no time getting the crowd “Werked” into a frenzy with Finding Destiny and Duck Farm. The group blends a mix of rock, funk, soul, and R & B to create a unique sound. Members of the band are Chris Houser, guitar/vocals; Chuck Love, bass/vocals; Rob Chafin, drums/vocals; Norman Dimitrouleas, keyboards/vocals. With a tour that stretches south into Florida and across the U.S. The Werks are no longer Dayton’s little secret. The first set also included Duck Farm, Burnin Grove, fan favorite Plain White Toast, featuring Christine McNabb on fiddle, and ended with Rollin/Moby Dick/Rollin that featured Rob on drums.

The band was just getting warmed up as they took the stage for the second set, opening up with the hit Liquid. The night featured many innovative and original songs from the band, as well as a couple of great cover songs like Neil Young’s Cortez the Killer as they mixed it up a little featuring Rob on vocals and guitar, Houser on bass, and Chuck on drums. The Werks ended their four hour marathon with their funky and soulful tune G-Funk that went into Fall and back to G-Funk. The festivities came to an end around 4:30am but the party raged on as no one wanted to see the night end.

The last Tree Farm Production at the farm was a great time for all who attended. So on behalf of us all thanks to Tree and Dannie for their hospitality over the years, you’re AWESOME; we look forward to the next chapter for Tree Farm Productions. Thanks to Chubby and Kim for taking the time to capture each show in video and picture, you guys ROCK. Of course we want to thank Jimmy for a great Earth Day Jam!