Festieheads rejoice, a new music & arts festival will bring life back to Mayo Island this Saturday.
Founded about eight years ago, local event company Three One One Productions is behind most of the festivals in town including the Scott’s Addition Pumpkin Festival, Carytown Watermelon Festival (in partnership with Carytown Merchants Association), Shamrock the Block, Hops & Barley Fest and more.
President Micki Long said after attending and working at major music festivals like Camp Bisco and Langerado (now defunct) over the years, she liked the idea of bringing a similar concept to Richmond on a smaller scale.
“I’ve always really liked the vibe of those kind of festivals and attended a lot of them; not only worked a lot of them so it’s always been in the back of my mind it was just a matter of finding the right place, the right time, and the right bands,” she said. “I also want to showcase a lot of our good local stuff…I think that’s important too finding ones that fit in this sort of music festival vibe, I see it as not just music, but as a whole experience.”
Throughout the last year, Long has been working with the owners of Mayo Island getting permits in place for a location that she has had her eye on from when she first had the idea.
“I think that’s a really cool little secret spot in the middle of downtown Richmond that’s still got grass on it and trees, but still has a great urban vibe, you have the railroad tracks that go across it, you have a big abandoned warehouse you can use for shade,” she said. “And it’s in the middle of the James River.”
It worked out too that reggae/hip hop/funk artist Michael Franti & Spearhead and Nashville’s prog rock band Moon Taxi were available to headline the festival, and by getting RVA’s folk quartet Dalton Dash, rock group Rikki Shay, and blues-rock band Dead Frog on board, Long was able to bring her vision for Jam Sandwich to life.
“All of the pieces seemed to fall in place this year and I really think the culture of the city of Richmond is a great place for this type of experience festival, not just music,” she said. “It’s a lineup that has a little bit of all kinds of different things in it.”
Prior to Jam Sandwich, there have only been just a handful of festivals over the years at the 13-acre island that gives access to Shockoe Bottom and downtown to Manchester by way of the 14th Street Bridge.
Country on Mayo, a country music festival took place there in 2013, and prior to that, Queens of the Stone Age performed there in 2000 and the island has been pretty much a ghost town musically otherwise.
“That was the last one that I went to on Mayo Island,” she said referring to the Queens of the Stone Age concert. “It hasn’t been used in many, many years they stopped renting it out, it’s just been sitting there.”
Jam Sandwich is taking the “jam” theme and running with it beyond musical acts. Ellwood Thompson’s is making a signature PB&J sandwich just for the event, Strangeways Brewing will be there serving up jam-inspired brews as well as some of its flagships, and the festival will also be selling a raspberry “Jamtini” provided by Titos. Belle Isle Moonshine will also offer cocktails.
Tapping into the Coachella-like atmosphere, Jam Sandwich will feature everything from free festie face painting to yoga.
“We’ve got a yoga garden where were going to have yoga instructors,” she said adding that they will open the gates an hour prior to the music to host a yoga class in the field. “Throughout the day in the Zen garden we’ll have lavender towels and cushions to sit on.”
Attendees can also spray paint inside the warehouse on the property, enjoy cotton candy and check out a fabric art installation by Function Form among other interactive elements.
“We’re just trying to make it slightly different so it’s not the same generic street festival, which is nothing wrong with them I do them all the time,” she said. “I just wanted to bring something slightly different to Richmond that has the same vibe as a Firefly or a Coachella without the camping at a much more affordable price in the middle of the city.”
And while there’s no camping this year, Long did hint at the possibility in the future along with making Jam Sandwich an annual event.
“We’re going to do one day this year and start growing it on from that,” she said. “That’s definitely something I’d like to see in the future its growing it as it is and getting Richmond to embrace it, and once they embrace it, its finding a place I have the room so we can move to that next step.”
Jam Sandwich kicks off this Sat., July 1 at Mayo Island located at 501 South 14th St. with music from 12-8 pm. Gates open at 11 am. General Admission tickets are $30 in advance, $45 the day of, and a viewing platform option is for sale for $135 which includes on-island parking and a few other treats. Get yours here. On island parking passes are $7 or attendees have the option to park in the surrounding lots which are within walking distance.