The MusiCares® Sober Jam is a showcase of courage. The last Monday of every month, over 30 musicians take the stage at Gibson Guitar’s private showroom. For many of them it is their first time performing in public ever; for others it may be their first time ever performing sober. While many of the attendees are active in the drug & alcohol recovery, the spirit of the event is to support musicians in overcoming stage fright and performance anxiety.
I personally have been involved as the event producer from day one and 2017 marks our 11th year. The Sober Jam began in 2006 as an outgrowth of a weekly MusiCares® Recovery Meeting that was hosted at Gibson. Its evolution is thanks in large part to Austin’s longtime local music advocate and former Gibson employee, Don Pitts, who spotted the opportunity to offer up their private showroom and world-class line of musical instruments to invite musicians to perform in a safe and sober environment. This remains the mission of the Sober Jam today.
The event begins at 7pm with an Open Jam, allowing guests time to arrive, mingle and find their way to a seat. At 8pm, we transition to a seated listening room with open mic style performances (solo or with a band). As the Emcee of the event, it can be incredibly moving to witness & support musicians who are facing their fears and embracing the vulnerability that is inherent to live performance, particularly without the buffer of drugs or alcohol.
A special thanks to our presenting sponsor The SIMS Foundation, who offer mental health and addiction recovery services to Austin musicians, music industry professionals, and their families. Between MusiCares® and the SIMS Foundation, there has been an incredible showing of support for the Sober Jam from the drug and alcohol recovery community. All attendees -- both on and off-stage -- are considered to be active participants in the Sober Jam. By simply showing up, listening to the music, and offering an applause between songs, each guest plays a meaningful role in cultivating a safe environment for the performers.
Each event concludes with an unannounced "special guest performer" who has significant experience performing sober. Past special guests have included Matt the Electrician, Chris Gates, Nakia, Emily Wolfe, and Amy Cook, each with their own stories, music, and experiences to share. What better note to end on than a living example of accomplished musicians.
Keep up with the latest on the MusiCares® Sober Jam Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/MusiCaresSoberJamAustin/