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Published: 2003/03/25
by Johnny Goff

On The Spot: The Las Vegas Jam Band Society Tests Area 51

LAS VEGAS, NEVADA A wise man once warned that building on sand would cause a foundation to be weak. But nothing could be farther from the truth for a group of motivated music lovers in the sandy desert the City of Sin calls home. By taking the place of would-be dollar pinching promoters, members of The Las Vegas Jam Band Society have constructed a rock-solid structure of success in an arena where few previously had even thought of venturing. Music lovers in the Las Vegas area have long suffered from the depravity of nationally known jam bands not visiting their neon oasis. They relied heavily on Rudy Jalio, owner of Legend’s Lounge, to bring in names they were eager to hear. After years of bringing in mid-level organic roots rock bands, Jalio and several other granola go-getters had a brilliant brainchild. Rather than forking out the dough and take a financial risk of selling allotted tickets for a show, why not dip into the micro economic philosophy of supply and demand. Little did they know in 1999, however, how potentially successful both sides of the coin would be. Four years later, the LVJBS prepares to host their third annual Area 51 Soundtest under the umbrella of a $65,000 price tag. Amazing what can happen when music lovers assemble the Voltron of grassroots jam bands’ promotion with just a $10 a month membership charge.
George Lyons, Host of The Lyons’ Den music show on KUNV- 91.5 FM and spokesman for the Las Vegas Jam Band Society said by being established as a non-profit organization in Nevada, the LVJBS can be used as a music lovers instrument to see great live music. By falling under the auspices of not for profit, Lyons said members are offered numerous advantages that include tax deductible donations, admission to every LVJBS concert and event and a greater access to an even greater amount of touring jambands. In addition, the society is currently awaiting its application to the Federal Government as a national non-profit organization which Lyons said could mean the Las Vegas Jam Band Society being ‘The national flagship operation for other regional jam band societies’. Another major benefit for the LVJBS is a wider span of cultural improvement grants they can both apply for and potentially use. Though almost inconceivable at this point, Lyons said the impact that LVJBS could have really began with a very simple thought. ‘It truly wasn’t anything that was started with that as our goal, we simply wanted music and we wanted to see the bands that we wanted to see,’ Lyons said. ‘This guy named Charlie Vegas, who everyone out here has heard of and who was also our second year president, said something I didn’t forget. He used to say that we would like to think that this whole thing runs on love, but the reality of it is, is that we need money’. We wanted the kind vibe and the great music, so it finally boiled down to put up or shut up,’ Lyons said.
And so it was born.
From $20 a month and a handful of groovin’ faithful, The Las Vegas Jam Band Society now has a healthy stack of chips and some pit bosses who know how to get the job done. With nearly 100 people paying their $10 dues, the only way to truly get the job done was to hold a trademark event. a gala of sorts. a gathering. a festival. Two years ago, Lyons said the LVJBS Board decided to hold this event. Because the kitty had not yet been established, the event required not only the limited funds from membership dues, but also a healthy contribution from some private investors. Despite Dark Star Orchestra headlining the event, the show that drew only 300 people was a musical success but not a fiscal one. ‘In the first year, we lost about $10,000, and we did not rely as much as we should have on the jambands society’s ability to pay for things,’ Lyons said. ‘We had numerous bands that fit under the jamband umbrella but nobody was a headliner except for DSO. It was also the only time there has ever been a tornado warning in North Las Vegas. Needless to say, it was enough to keep people from coming out.’ Destined to not be outdone by Mother Nature, Lyons said the society reorganized in 2002 and drew double their previous year’s attendance.
This year, the third festival of it’s kind now has a name. From April 11-13, The Las Vegas Jam Band Society will hold the Area 51 Soundtest. The 3-day high desert music festival will even feature moe. as their headliner. Not bad considering the short but fruitful existence of the jam band society. As a result of landing the moe. and Particle, L.A.‘s space porn pimps the LVJBS has backed from day one, for a late night desert foam party, Lyons said he is optimistic that the LVJBS could attract up to a 1,500 jam faithful for the three day musical mirage. ‘We were real instrumental in breaking Particle to the scene, and we love ‘em. Since then, We have had numerous shows with them,’ Lyons said. ‘We are all real pumped to be having the first ever all night foam party during Particle. The band is real excited about it. It’s gonna be get real interesting, that’s all I’m going to say.’ As far as security, Lyons is not too concerned. ‘the people who are going to be coming to this pretty much represent the hippy granola generation, so we don’t have a huge security concern, but we’re ready if anything were to happen.’
With 20 days to go until Area 51, Lyons said they had already sold 300 advance tickets.
‘Our goal would be to make a profit, but we just go into shows hoping we don’t lose money,’ he said. ‘Like the Soundtest, we put our money behind efforts that would attract people from outside the area.’ In addition to the likes of Moe. and Particle, the group has also attracted numerous regional acts that will simply sizzle, according to Lyons. Jacob Jazz Odyssey: ‘They are the most cutting edge new progressive jazz band. We had them last year and they rocked. People will really dig these guys.’ David Nelson Band: Combining healthy doses of psychedelic country, blues and bluegrass with an improvisational style, DNB has a close connection with the Las Vegas Jam Band Society. ‘We have a great working relationship with these guys,’ Lyons said. Uberschall: meaning ‘Super Sonic’ in German is the improvisational side project featuring members of the amazing Las Vegas Blue Man Group. A seven piece band featuring 4 drummers, including former Primus member Tim Alexander,their music is tribal and hypnotically rhythmic. ‘These guys are completely improvisational,‘Lyons said. ‘It’s basically a musical conversation with them because they have an uncanny ability to understand each other’s tendencies. We are really really excited about having them.’ David Gans Solo Electric: Host and producer of the nationally syndicated ‘Grateful Dead Hour,’ he is heard by thousands of music fans each week. Other acts scheduled to drone out the coyotes’ night howls are: Las Vegas’ Jam Bands, The Pickadillos and The Bounders, and other regional attractions like Guitar Army, Olospo, Hijos de Sancho, Two Camel Garage, The Abyss and Stretch.
For ticket information on the Area 51 Soundtest, visit

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