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RiverSide Jam Festival spreads awareness of global hunger, sustainability

BY SAMANTHA GENTRY | APRIL 18, 2013 5:00 AM

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Local bands, live painting, and a Hula-Hoop workshop are just a few of the elements involved in this year’s RiverSide Jam: Music and Arts Project.

But the festival is about more than just music and art — it helps to create community awareness of global hunger and environmental sustainability.

The RiverSide Jam will begin at noon and continue until 10 p.m. on Saturday at the Riverside Shakespeare Festival Stage in Lower City Park. Admission is $5 or five canned-good items.

UI senior Adam Epstein had the idea for the festival last year when he thought it would be an interesting idea to have an outside concert.

“I looked at all the other festivals Iowa City has, and those are all geared toward families,” he said. “So I thought bringing something that focused more on students’ organizations and cultural aspects would be a valuable asset for an Iowa City festival.”

The anthropology major approached his friends, asking if they would be interested in helping him bring the idea to life.

Last year, the festival had around 75 attendees and only three bands, but it received approximately 350 canned goods.

“Last year gave me the support and drive I needed to make this one bigger,” Epstein said. “I learned we needed more of a production.”

So Epstein looked to his friends for help to take this year’s festival to the next level.

UI senior Duncan Ross jumped on board last year when Epstein approached him.

“I thought it was a great idea and a great event for a good cause,” Ross said. “I wanted to help make it happen.”

This year, Ross is in charge of the marketing for the event and everyone involved with the production side of the festival. But he is most interested in seeing how the festival is going to bring people together through music and art.

“As an art major, music is my inspiration, but I think what a lot of people talk about in festivals is that they are so focused on the music, but [RiverSide Jam] is focusing on the art aspect,” Ross said.

Including the arts is one of the major additions to this year’s festival. Participants will have the opportunity to enjoy live painting, yoga, meditation, slack lining, and Hula-Hooping.

“It’s not going to be bipartisan observing,” Epstein said. “Everyone is going to want to try Hula-Hooping or slack lining just to enjoy something new.”

In addition to the creative activities, the festival will host more than 10 different bands, one being Zeta June.

Zeta June’s percussionist Cody Kuhens said it’s important for the bands to be a part of the festival because of the overwhelming support they have received from the community and local music scene.

“We wanted to do something that would bring awareness and give back to the individuals in our community who are less fortunate and could use the support,” Kuhens said.

Fans can expect to hear some new material from Zeta June’s self-titled début album, which will come out this summer, along with more familiar originals and covers.

While the band members are excited about sharing what they’ve been working on, Kuhens said, they also look forward to collaborating with the other local bands.

Zeta June has played previous show with many of the other groups, and Kuhens considers them to be “some of the best talent in Iowa.”

“We have many different genres of music going on throughout the festival,” he said. “But to see all of us work together to make a difference for others is a beautiful thing.”


RiverSide Jam: Music and Arts Project
When: Noon-10 p.m. Saturday
Where: Riverside Shakespeare Festival Stage, Lower City Park
Admission: $5 or 5 canned good items


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