All Star Jam
When: May 6, 8 p.m.
Where: Max's On Broadway
Call: 444-3776 or 675-6297
Ask Susie Mudd, the editor of Maryland Musician, how she came up with the idea for her publication's annual All Star Jam, and she almost seems embarrassed by the explanation.
"This is really silly," she says, laughing. "It was because I have so many favorite players, and I always envisioned them playing together. I wanted to see Cary Zeigler play with Jamie LaRitz or Carl Filipiak. So I put the idea out to people, and they said, 'That'd be great.' "
Once it got rolling, though, Mudd realized that the Jam could do more than merely bring local musicians together. So, she says, ++ "We decided to make it a benefit, and the Maryland Child Abuse Center was the thing. We like to help the helpless."
That was five years ago, and since then the All Star Jam has mushroomed into a unique showcase for local musicians. It isn't just that the event involves 100 or more players, or that it finds familiar faces performing in unfamiliar configurations; what really makes the event a special occasion is the way it puts all elements of the local music scene on a common footing.
"We've got people from jazz, rock, blues, country, acoustic and metal," says Mudd. "They're all there helping each other, and it's really incredible the way they come together and work things out, and forget about all their differences."
This year's lineup does indeed run the gamut, ranging from fusion guitarist Filipiak to folkie Pete Kennedy to funkmaster Greg Phillips, from rocker Michael Fath to jazzman Ron Holloway to session ace Tom Alonso. And, naturally, such longtime local stars as Tony Scuito, Tim Camp, Lisa Matthews, Billy Kemp, Richard Taylor and Tom Larsen.
Mudd describes the jam as a sort of revolving-door process. As soon as one group of players finishes its allotment of songs -- local producer Ty Ford is in charge of determining who plays what, and with whom -- another group comes on for a different set of songs.
"We look at it as a time to bring people together who've never met each other before in their lives, to have fun and have impromptu jams," she says. "There's no ego there. Some of the biggest egos in this town are going to be there, but there are no egos."
Unlike previous All Star Jams, which took place on the spacious stage at Hammerjacks, this year's show will take place at the considerably smaller Max's On Broadway. Although the players aren't too disappointed by the change in venue -- "Everybody's looking forward to it being more intimate," says Mudd -- there is some concern that being in a smaller hall might make it harder for the Jam to raise money.
So far, though, the music community has risen to the challenge, offering items for auction -- ranging from a Fender Bass to 10 hours of studio time, to an autographed package from Kix -- in an attempt to raise additional funds.
"It's just been so cool, people have been donating things right and left," says Mudd. "Everybody says they do it because I ask them to do it, but I don't think that's the truth. I think people do it because they want to help the kids."