The 1st Annual "Family Jamm!"
December 13, 2003
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The 1st Annual "Family Jamm!" took place December 13, 2003 at the Great Western Forum in Los Angeles, CA. This long anticipated event reunited many of the artists who defined the Minneapolis Sound in the '80s for the first time in nearly two decades.
All proceeds from the concert went towards the Elevate Hope Foundation (EHF) for the creation of the Compassion Care Center Of The Arts that will provide victims of child abuse alternative methods of treatment through music, the arts, education, recreation and counseling.
The Family Jamm! hag been EHF's biggest endeavor to this date. It took many months of planning and hard work to make it happen. All performing artists donated and waived any and all fees. The event was put together by the EHF team plus a volunteer team of organizers, producers, managers, security, graphic & web designers, and many more
At 8 p.m., Master Of Ceremonies Carmen Electra came on stage to introduce the first act. The three hour concert started with a bang when Jill Jones performed "Mia Bocca", followed by a rare performance by Apollonia, who sang "Take Me With U".
Both were accompanied by the House Band featuring Kat Dyson (guitar), Raymond McKinley (bass), Gordon Campbell (drums), Mano Hayes (keys), Dewayne Swan (keys), Bridgette Bryant (vocals) and Debra Parson (vocals).
EHF Co-Chairs Sheila E. and Lynn Mabry then took the stage to talk about the Foundation and the cause which reunited all of the bands who performed at the show, and pointed out the importance of building the Compassion Care Center of the Arts, a unique project that has never been undertaken before in the U.S.. Sheila E. was taken by surprise as the audience sang "Happy Birthday" to her, as it was her birthday the day before.
Lynn Mabry introduced the next band, Madhouse, lead by Eric Leeds on saxophone, with Matt Fink on keyboards, Raymond McKinley on bass and Sheila E. on drums. The band performed an instrumental jazz/funk set consisting of the songs 10, 13, 6 and 16.
Following Madhouse was the highly anticipated performance of the group The Family. They had rehearsed extensively for a tour in the '80s which never happened, and this was only their second live performance ever. Lead by St. Paul Peterson and Susannah Melvoin on lead vocals, Jellybean Johnson on drums, Eric Leeds on sax and keyboards, Miko Weaver on guitar and Jerome Benton on percussion, they performed "River Run Dry", "The Screams Of Passion", "Nothing Compares 2 U", "Mutiny" and "High Fashion". Their funky set included some tight dance routines and was one of the highlights of the night.
After special guest star Chaka Khan sang "I Feel 4 U", actress/presenter Nicole Parker came on stage to tell the story of Dwaun Robertson, "the road from fear to faith". She was moved to tears when she explained how Dwaun was abused and neglected as a child, stayed at foster homes and was finally able to escape the hurt and pain with the help of music. Dwaun himself appeared to proudly announce that he now is a professional gospel singer, an example of the mission of the Elevate Hope Foundation. This story really put the whole show into perspective reaffirming the Foundation's cause and what the night was all about.
Back to the music...Pete Escovedo announced the next performer, his daughter Sheila E., not without mentioning that he taught her everything he knew. Sheila E. and her band from the Purple Rain tour (featuring Karl Perazzo (drums), Juan Escovedo (percussion), Susie Davis (keys), Benny Rietveld (bass), Stef Burns (guitar) and Miko Weaver (guitar)) played a set of her '80s songs including "Oliver's House", "The Belle Of St. Mark", "A Love Bizarre", "The Glamorous Life" and "Holly Rock" as well as the Prince songs "17 Days" and "Alphabet St.", and the rap from "It's Gonna Be A Beautiful Night". Sheila encouraged the audience to sing along and brought them back in time with all the dance moves from her shows and videos. She ended her explosive performance with her trademark rousing timbale solo and left the audience screaming for more. Her band sounded tight and funky after all these years, only having minimal rehearsals. Lynn Mabry also guested on stage to sing the chorus of "One Nation Under A Groove" during Sheila's set.
Next was special guest star Patti LaBelle with a rendition of the Prince-written "Yo Mister", which had only been performed live on very few occasions. Patti truly mesmerized the audience with her stage presence and powerful voice.
While many have seen the group The Time play before, nobody had ever witnessed them in this incarnation with Jerome Benton, St. Paul Peterson, Jellybean Johnson and Sheila E. dressed as Morris Day! They performed "Jungle Love" and Sheila had all the moves down, complete with checking herself in the mirror, rearranging the lyrics as a dig at Morris Day who did not attend the Family Jamm. It was hilarious and gave the whole show a comic touch.
The last band to play was the reunion performance of Prince's backing band The Revolution featuring Wendy Melvoin (guitar), Lisa Coleman (keys), Bobby Z. (drums), Matt Fink (keys), Eric Leeds (sax), BrownMark (bass) and Susannah Melvoin (backing vocals). The Revolution last performed together in 1986. There had been several attempts to reunite but it never happened to this date. Lead by Wendy on lead vocals, The Revolution went through a set of their greatest hits: "Mountains", "America", "Pop Life", "Raspberry Beret", "Anotherloverholenyohead", "Purple Rain" (featuring Patti LaBelle on backing vocals) and "Baby I'm a Star". They sounded fresh and relaxed and it made one feel like no time had passed since they took arenas by storm touring with Prince in the '80s. Baby I'm A Star was truly a "Family Jamm!" with all the artists uniting on stage dancing and singing together until the final note closed the concert on a high note.
The evening also included a special opportunity for holders of VIP tickets to meet and greet the artists. The winners of the "Chance Of A Lifetime Party Package" joined the artists on stage for the final song and were presented with special gift bags made out of some of the artist's and band's album covers.
It was an amazing night and absolutely awesome to witness all the talent come together for such a worthy cause. Seeing all the smiles on everyone's faces, one could just feel all the love in the air that was filling up the room. People were up on their feet dancing and singing from beginning to end and never sat down.
Thanks to all who supported EHF to make the Family Jamm! come true. Only with your help, and through your passionate contribution, were we able to make this happen! We truly thank you from the bottom of our hearts!