We did this two years ago, when the JoAnn Garrett Classic hosted Youngblood Hawke, among others, but last year, the event took a break from music. This year? This year, it’s back, and it’s happening this weekend at The Blue Side on Saturday night. It will feature J Berd, Retro/Ricole Barnes (along with his band DaMood), and, the headliner of headliners, The Pharcyde. Tickets are still available, but from what we hear, they are going fast. We spoke with Jason about why the music element took last year off, how organizers landed on The Pharcyde as 2016’s headliner, and how the organization went with using The Blue Side for this year’s venue. You won’t want to miss this show, friends. Like, really. You won’t.
We last spoke in 2014 before the ninth JGC, when Youngblood Hawke headlined. Have I just been asleep for the past year and a half (totally possible), or was this event skipped last year? If so, why? If it wasn’t, then how did it go and who played?
I hope you weren’t asleep that long. That would’ve been one helluva nap. Due to some health issues, life and new work projects, we went a simpler route. About 100 of us went to an Orioles game on 9/11. Because of the date associated with the event, we decided to donate to Project Rebirth. It was totally different, but also great. The Orioles won and hit two grand slams in one inning, but more importantly, we raised more than $1,000 for a great charity. We’ve managed to keep it fresh. We’ve had our events on the creek, at Crumland Farms, the fairgrounds, VOLT, and Camden Yards. It kind of goes full circle.
What led to this year coming together? At what point did you guys start planning for the event? Can you take us through the timeline of how this year’s JGC came to be?
This year was pretty easy as well. We wanted to go back to our roots from the very first charity event we did in 2006. It was at Bentz Street Sports Bar (now The Blue Side). My wife is a fan of The Pharcyde. We said that’d be a good show. We got permission from the Garrett family. We secured a donation. And we booked the band. In the meantime, I also spoke to my friend April Reardon about this year’s event. I saw her perform with Erich French last year at a small club and didn’t realize she was getting into the music scene. She mentioned a few other acts, but The Pharcyde came up again, and to us, it was just a sign. I don’t think she thought we were going to book them.
This year’s slate has a decidedly hip-hop slant. What led to the decision to go with hip-hop this year and ultimately book The Pharcyde? Were there other national headliners you had in mind, and they just didn’t work?
We didn’t go for anyone else. Our offer versus what they wanted wasn’t far off, so it was pretty easy. It just took a long time.
The last time we spoke, you mentioned how the event was set to have two roasted pigs, local beer, a silent auction and other goodies. What kind of additional things are on tap for this year’s event, outside of the music?
Music, dancing and drinks. I’ll be getting a set menu later this week. We’ll be looking for 100 percent fun and a one-love mentality.
What do you think makes this JGC different from ones in years past?
We had Biz Markie perform and DJ in 2010, and this is a little along those lines. Small venue, legendary artist, great local talent, great like-minded people who like to have a good time and make a difference. The formula we try to use is fundraising while having fun.
Is there any part of the day you’re looking forward to more than other parts and why?
Having this event at a venue like The Blue Side allows the people behind the JGC to relax and have fun with everyone else. It’s been a rough year for the team, losing some friends, one from cancer. This one is kind of for her now. I look forward to anytime I’m able to get out with friends, family and friends-to-be, and I’m pretty sure the team agrees.
How important was it to you to get local artists on the bill as openers. This has to be one of the biggest shows for both Ricole and J Berd.
It was extremely important. J Berd and I have been friends for 25 years. We have been talking about doing a hip-hop show for a while. The budget was previously there for who they wanted, but once it was decided that The Pharcyde was the headliner, it might as well have been in their contract that he was performing, too. I’m excited. And you know the story with April — that obviously leads to Retro/Ricole and DaMood. It was really cool to bring them on board. I think they appreciate it, too. It’s just so great to work with friends and we’re extremely gracious for their acceptance.
And finally, what can we expect, overall, from this year’s JoAnn Garrett Classic?
All JoAnn Garrett Classics are the same in the sense that you will get a quality show you haven’t seen before, have a great time, and raise money for local charities.