jam session: (noun)a gathering or performance in which musicians play together informally without any preparation : an often impromptu performance by a group especially of jazz musicians that is characterized by improvisation. – Mirriam-Webster Dictionary
For musicians, there is nothing quite as liberating as a jam session. The feeling defies description. No matter what instruments the musicians play, they take a rhythm and key and weave music out of the ether. They compose as they go. They feel their way through chords, inventing, with each passing beat, a stretch of music that has never quite existed before, and may never again.
The fifth annual Jungle Jam plays this week at Hotel DoceLunes in Jacó, and it’s more than just a music festival: It’s a chance for Costa Ricans and world travelers to get together and appreciate the improvisational art form. The nation has its share of concerts and music festivals, but Jungle Jam has become one of the biggest and most exciting. This year’s edition will feature 25 bands, as well as DJs from such far-flung locations as the United States, Jamaica, and Australia.
With each successive year, Jungle Jam has drawn a more diverse body of musicians. One of the headliners, California-based Slightly Stoopid, is returning to Jacó, where they will perform their easygoing funk-reggae oeuvre.
New on the scene is Washington, D.C.-based Thievery Corporation, an 18-piece ensemble that incorporates DJ mixes, traditional instruments, and live vocals. The collective is famous for its psychedelic, experimental sound, and they have shared stages with the likes of Paul McCartney, David Byrne (of Talking Heads) and Wayne Coyne (of The Flaming Lips).
Such a range of musicians also brings a range of different fans, from ever-roving hippies to beer-bonging bros. But for the health-and-wellness types, Jungle Jam will also host several yoga sessions, as well as a hula hoop lesson and presentations. Get the full schedule here.
A word to the wise: Jacó is filled with hotels, but in past years the festival has been popular enough to pack them all. Try to book a room in advance for as many night as you plan to stay. Otherwise, you may find yourself in a bit of a jam – and not the fun kind. Tent camping is available for the moment, but the festival has the potential to sell out.
Tickets cost $60-420 and can be purchased on Jungle Jam’s official website. Here’s the lineup:
4:20 – 6 p.m.: VIP Party with Santos Y Zurdu
6 p.m.: The Werks
7:45 p.m.: Dopapod
9:30 p.m.: Zach Deputy
11:30 p.m.: Steel Pulse
6 p.m.: Un Rojo
7:45 p.m.: Twiddle
9:30 p.m.: Papadosio
11:30 p.m.: Thievery Corporation
5 p.m.: Thicker Than Thieves
6:15 p.m.: Perro Bravo
7:45: The Werks
9:30 p.m.: The Beautiful Girls
11:30 p.m.: Slightly Stoopid
3 p.m.: Ojo De Buey
4:20 p.m.: Talawa
6:10 p.m.: Jesse Royal
8 p.m.: Mykal Rose
10 p.m.: Morgan Heritage
12 a.m.: The Super Jam