JammSammich prepares to close out another Taste of Peoria on the CEFCU Center Stage, Wednesday, August 10th. Say what you will about one of Peoria’s longest running and most well-attended events: it’s always a little different – and always fun.
As a frequent guest of PACE, Sammich has played in no less than 4 different locations. In the early years, the streets of Downtown Peoria would be shut down and massive crowds would gather on Jefferson Street. Eventually, it was decided to move the festival to Peoria’s Riverfront to allow it to spread out – and last year, the band found itself sharing twin stages of continuous music in Festival Park – on account of flooding at the Landing.
For the uninitiated, the premise is simple – you buy “Taste Bucks” that can be redeemed for sample-sized servings of some of the area’s best restaurant fare. Ribs, sandwiches, desserts, pizza, wings – just about anything you can dream up can be found. Still looking for something to top the chocolate covered bacon we discovered a couple of years back…
Taste has also always been about music – party music. While other local fests boast eclectic lineups and varied genres, Taste has always seemed to be geared toward maximum fun – lots of pop, Top 40, rock and country bands and artists. This year, Sammich splits duties with Peoria favorites Brian Dennison, Coco Loc0 and Wolf and Gypsy – as well as newcomers to the fest like House Cat and Stone and Snow.
For the second year in a row – one member of the Sammich is out for the gig (last year, bass legend Dave Plunk sat in). This year, Mike Mercer is out for the night and uber-talented rocker, Michael Layne (Michael Layne Band) steps on lead – promising a slightly more rocking setlist than usual – and a few cool surprises.
Sammich takes the stage at 9pm at the Landing. Get there early and allow time to stand in line for the great eats.
Perfect weather, killer Beach Party decor and our biggest gate ever on the Peoria Riverfront. It was a historic night for Sammich. From the full-size palm trees that flanked the the stage, the undulating hula dancers and the occasional stray beach ball – there was no mistake that the beach theme was in full effect on July 9th at the CEFCU Center Stage at the Riverfront. Continue reading
JammSammich has always believed in giving back. That’s why this year, we mark a decade of performances at one of Peoria’s longest running and favorite festivals, the Louie Louie RiverJam. The event caps off one of Peoria’s craziest parades (kazoos, business folk in boxer shorts, pink flamingoes – and that song…played on a wide variety of exotic instruments) and marks the traditional kickoff of Peoria’s Summer.
Besides the huge crowds and party atmosphere Louie Louie promises, we look forward, every year, to the opportunity to donate our time to help raise money for our favorite cause, St Jude Children’s Research Hospital. Along with the Illinois Valley Striders and AMP Media and a small army of volunteers – the event (always held the final Friday of May) donates its proceeds to St Jude to assist with research for cures for childhood illness and the rising cost of caring for St Jude kids.
This year’s parade starts at 3:30 – followed by the RiverJam at 5pm. Sammich is joined by Three and a Half Men kicking off the fun and this year’s exciting closing act, Dexter O’Neal and Funkyard. Weather permitting, it should be a fun night!
Playing in a working Midwest band has two basic annual cycles: Indoor and Outdoor.
And truthfully – it’s like two completely different businesses.
Every year, around this time (Mid-April), the weather starts to turn (sometimes unseasonably so) and our minds themselves turn to the outdoor, dancing under the stars nights to come – through roughly the end of September. Don’t get us wrong. We love playing the bars and events of the chillier season. Getting to see our favorite bar folks in their natural habitat, the excitement of tightly-packed venues – the intimacy of the the occasional stage-crasher. But, Spring and Summer bring with them a kind of magic to Sammich Inc. that simply must be experienced. In the OLDE days (yes, olde, that’s how old they were), the outdoor season meant an escape from smokey confines. Now, as the band gets older, it means the opportunity to play for a wider fanbase – including those not old enough to – or not inclined to – frequent the bar scene. Shows give way to concerts – a fact not lost on the Sammich boys. And, though we are prompted to watch the weather forecast a lot more closely than we do the rest of the year, being able to stretch out outside typically means early start and end times, bigger crowds, the occasional corn dog and fun.
Between outdoor venues – like the Peoria Riverfront CEFCU Center Stage and the beautiful Mackinaw Valley Vineyard – to private events – to local festivals and events Like Taste of Peoria and the Louie Louie RiverJam, you will be hard pressed to find JammSammich behind closed doors for about the next 5 months. Here’s a handy calendar of upcoming events between now and September. Hang it on your fridge and add the dates to your calendar:
As a band, the question we PROBABLY answer the most is:
“Do you play for weddings?”
In short, “Yes. Lots of them.”
In the last 17 years, we’ve played for roughly 70 weddings. And it’s a side of the business we absolutely love. If you listen closely, our setlist is designed to make us a perfect fit for wedding receptions with tunes spanning multiple decades and genres – perfect for the wide variety of party people found at a reception. We’d be lying if we said we EVER played for a wedding reception that wasn’t anything short of a blast.
Professionalism. That’s the most important part of working with wedding clients – and something we take very seriously. You could be the best band in the world and ruin a reception with simple missteps of etiquette. To ensure that EVERY wedding client has a great experience, we like to meet and get to know the couple several weeks prior to the event. Over dinner or drinks, we discuss the vibe they’re going for, the music they’d like played, how they met, what to expect from their guests and all of the other personal touches they want for their party. It helps to lay out expectations and, by getting to know each other, emphasize that our clients are working with a trusted service provider – not just a vendor.
In theory, our goal at a wedding is pretty similar to everywhere else we play: get butts on the dance floor and keep them there and create an experience that they’ll remember and revisit for a long time. But, we take on lots of other jobs the day of a wedding – assisting photographers in getting the best moments for pictures, announcing the bridal party and setting the tone for the rest of the night and providing support for all of the fun activities clients have planned. Our work typically starts hours before the couple says I do and we’re usually the last to leave.
Tailoring an exciting wedding performance means bringing in top-notch production to ensure that everything looks and sounds great. From the attention-grabbing thump of the wedding party arrival – to ensuring that everyone can hear the toasts – until the last note of the last song – it’s important to be backed up by great equipment!
Why do we take weddings so seriously – and love playing for them so much? Simple. We feel like invited guests into a fun, important and very special day in the lives of the families we play for. We don’t take this lightly. Just like everyone involved, we want this day to be perfect. And satisfied clients lead to new clients.
On Saturday December 19th, Sammich, along with perennial Pekin rockers, Backstreet and the power trio THREE will be joining forces with longtime Pekin club owner, Bill Grimm (Nik’s Ivanhoe), Custom Sound and Lighting and the Pekin Moose Christmas Committee for a night that we hope will help brighten the holidays for some of the area’s most needy families. It’s a tradition that Grimm started a couple of years ago and at $10 a head, you’re promised a night packed with entertainment – including BriSammich’s entry in the Best Kilt Contest – and Holiday cheer.
When our friends the Wordens told us they wanted to do some thing BIG to kick off the opening of their new destination BBQ joint in Knoxville, IL – we checked our calendar and saw that one of 2015’s “Perfect Storm” party nights was free. With Halloween falling on a Saturday – and word already spreading about Tom and Deb’s insanely good charred meats – we locked down our special appearance. Now, just need to locate some suitable costumes.
So, what do we mean when we say “destination BBQ”? Well, EVERY town has their bbq (some better than others) but, on a rare occasion, word spreads about a place – in the case of Big Catz, the reputation was built through passionate, relentless catering and a regular stint at the Knoxville Legion. We enjoyed their eats many times playing for the Knoxville High School Athletic Boosters – and always urged the Wordens to open a place. I’m sure after trying their outstanding smoked brisket and Deb’s secret-recipe beans others did too. And that’s how a place gets the “destination” label – it means folks will drive from all over the State to eat this food once word spreads. That’s good news for Big Catz – even better news for Knoxville. We’re just happy to be in the “Big Catz Circle of Trust”…the fringe benefits are gold, baby!
So, on Halloween Night, you can expect a few things:
- Insane BBQ (a couple of weekends ago, Big Catz moved 100 racks in 3 days and 75 pounds of brisket)
- Sammich in full costume – you too, hopefully. It’s been a while since we played in Knox – always great to come back and party with our pals! Will be sure to have some trick or treats with us…
- A big crowd. Early buzz on this one is indicating wall-to-wall folks. Don’t be surprised if Tom throws an apron on you and asks you to take a shift on the smoker! Seriously, though. Get there early. Eat. Drink. Party.
Visit Big Catz BBQ on Facebook and get ready for the best Halloween ever!