When Barker Road played their first concert for Carolina Jams, the supportive and familial environment struck a chord in Fehl. These performances are now her best experiences as a member of the club.
Fehl said Carolina Jams concerts are supportive.
"Everyone can get on stage and play and feel totally comfortable and supported because the audience was comprised of musicians and musicians’ friends,” she said.
Along with Barker Road and a funk foursome named JULIA., Mattie and The Masters, a blues rock band based in Chapel Hill, will also be performing at the showcase. They’ve escalated from playing free events to paid performances, and it all began with a makeshift group of strangers who wanted to perform at one of the club’s first showcases.
“We were just looking for other musicians who wanted to perform at one of the club events," said bassist Nic Rardin, who is also a member of the Carolina Jams executive team. "We just threw together a set for one of these low-key performances, thought it sounded really good, and started playing together.”
For Gonzalez, the showcase experience is looking up to the stage to see the evolving success and talent of musicians that Carolina Jams had some small part in creating— and that’s pretty special.
“I was at a concert last night for JULIA., and I was watching their drummer just absolutely kill it, and I can remember back to three years ago when I watched the same drummer performing in Hinton James at one of our first open mic nights," Gonzales said. "It's crazy to watch them progress. Every single show I go to of these bands, it’s so clear that they’re getting better and better every time, and it’s cool that Carolina Jams had this small slice of making that happen.”
The main tenet of Carolina Jams is comfort. Founded as a low-pressure way for musicians to hone their craft and meet new people, many members find the welcoming nature of the club to be a key component in allowing musicians to interact without intimidation.
“That’s what we were going for when we first started the club," Rardin said. "We wanted to create an environment where people could just feel comfortable and have fun with music, and pursue it however they wanted to ... it’s great to have that informal entry.”
On-campus ensembles often require a standard of excellence that can only be acquired through years of dedication at minimum. Some music enthusiasts at UNC might have that background, but certainly not all of them — and that’s where Carolina Jams comes in.
“The vast majority of students who do play music at UNC really aren’t here to do that. It’s a side interest for everyone," Rardin said. "It’s my favorite thing, but it’s definitely a side interest for me behind doing well, finishing my degree, getting a job – so it was cool to create a more low-key option for people.”
As Carolina Jams phases in a new executive team, one of Gonzalez’s main goals, in addition to continuing live performances, is to create social events that simply allow musicians to meet and talk about music.
"Getting a group together like Carolina Jams proved difficult for us for a really long time, but then we found out about these different social events, like the trivia night, that’s I think where the club’s evolved into more of a social club with a focus around music," Gonzalez said.