Due to COVID, dozens of performers and thousands of fans won’t gather for the annual WYCE event that would have taken place Friday at The Intersection. But a revised 2021 Jammies is still possible.
As the new station manager at WYCE-FM, Jess Martin experienced her first Jammie Awards celebration at The Intersection last February and it left her blown away – by the musical performances, the overwhelming community support and the upbeat attitude.
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“I loved walking from stage to stage just to catch anything I could while keeping things flowing that evening,” she recalled.
“For me, all the music was new and I couldn’t stop saying, ‘Wow,’ at each stage – both in awe of the talent, how diverse the scene here is and how happy all the bands and people in the crowd were that night.”
But there will be no repeat of that Jammie Awards celebration in February 2021.
The continued venue lockdown and health restrictions brought on by the long-running COVID-19 pandemic means that dozens of performers and throngs of fans won’t pack the varied venues within The Intersection nightclub on Friday for the traditional mid-February awards show.
Still, Martin insisted that WYCE is planning for a revamped, 22nd Jammie Awards celebration later this year, though specifics haven’t been finalized.
“I’m very optimistic about the future and have a pretty big idea for Jammies this year which will happen in late spring or summer of 2021,” she told Local Spins.
“There are a lot of moving parts and pieces of the puzzle to put together still but in talking with a few promoters, musicians, and some people that can help make this idea happen, so far we’re all extremely excited. I know that’s vague. (But) the life of live music and its future is a day-to-day rollercoaster.”
WAITING ON VACCINES WHILE PREPARING FOR A DIFFERENT SORT OF JAMMIES
What’s not so vague is the decision to forego the usual winter Jammies, even in live-stream, stay-at-home fashion.
“We definitely chatted about possibly trying to do something virtually with Jammies this year,” Martin said. “When November came around and planning should have really kicked off, we decided it made much more sense to wait it out for vaccines to hopefully be approved and distributed. And if we couldn’t get together in a venue we could get together outside once it gets warmer. That’s also when everything closed back down again.”
Instead, the listener-supported community radio station is commemorating “Jammies Week” on the air, playing tracks by Jammie Award performers and winners, with volunteer programmers and listeners encouraged to share Jammies memories. The Community Media Center’s GRTV also is airing Jammies performances from previous years.
(Check out last year’s Local Spins coverage of the 2020 Jammie Awards with a special Jammies playlist here.)
The station also plans to revise the voting and selection process for the Jammie Awards. In the past, the station’s volunteer programmers have voted to determine winners for the bulk of awards.
Martin conceded that many listeners and musicians have called and emailed WYCE with questions about the Jammie Awards.
“I promise everyone at WYCE and our listeners that I will do everything in my power to make a Jammies happen this year,” she said.
“I find myself very nostalgic these days and looking back on shows I attended and even those I missed. I know I missed a ton of good shows here in Grand Rapids and can’t wait to be in those venues indoors and outdoors with all of the Michigan music family, some of which I still haven’t met in person.“
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