Summertime is festival time. Every community takes time to celebrate its people and its culture with weeklong or weekend events that bring family together to share in each others lives for just a short period on time. The High Land Jam is no different.
Established in Elkins, West Virginia in 2002 on the Pegasus Farm, a 29-acre tract of land just south of the city limits, the High Land Jam brings together musicians from all over the country every August to celebrate life and the healing power of music. Many of the bands have been coming back to this West Virginia musical oasis since the very first get-together.
"We have watched our musical family grow up from infant college bands to seasoned, mature musicians who play for the love of music, not for the profit in it," explained Bonnie Branciaroli, Pegasus Farm co-owner and promoter.
"It's a real joy to greet every member of this musical family each year," added Mark, Bonnie's husband. "We have watched these folks grow up, get married, have children. It's a wonder of life!"
History of the JAM
Billed as "A Celebration to the Healing Power of Music," the High Land Jam was the culmination of many events that impacted the lives of Mark and Bonnie.
In March of 2002, Bonnie was diagnosed with advanced colon cancer. To keep her in a positive spirit while undergoing chemotherapy, Mark booked time in a local studio, Lone Wolf Productions, owned and operated by well-known local jazz guitarist and rock shredder, Seth Maynard. The outcome of this venture was a full-length CD, "Garden of Life" and the beginning of the band, ZEN.
ZEN debuted in November 2002. In March of 2003, Mark and Bonnie journeyed to Colorado on a recuperative seven-week trip in a 1984 renovated school bus and rediscovered the outdoor festival scene.
A musical couple steeped in Folk and Old-time Appalachian bluegrass since the early 70s, Mark and Bonnie had given up their music for nearly a decade to follow a career in marketing and tourism promotion that awarded them the 29-acre farm, a twin engine airplane and many other bells and whistles that came at a very heavy price undue stress and serious illness. Rediscovering the live music and jam band scene reawakened their love of music and the couple gravitated to jam due to its eclectic balance of combining and accepting all genres of music.
Later that year Mark's father, John Branciaroli, passed away and left the couple enough money to build the two stages and produce the first High Land Jam.
The High Land Jam is now in its fifteenth year, although the couple laughingly quibble over how many years its really been. Somewhere along the way they produced more than one annual event and the numbers have been mixed up ever since.
As the years rolled by, the High Land Jam has become a musical reunion for the musicians and bands who have graced the stages year after year. It's also a special time when former members of the band, ZEN, reunite.
The Band ZEN
ZEN headlines the Jam each year. This year the core members of the band ZEN will celebrate 14 years of playing music together. Mark and Bonnie Branciaroli, Seth Maynard, and Cam Tenney have rolled with the changes, delighted in the journey and reveled in the music. Drummer, Andy Wilmoth, a WVU music student who grew into a professional Nashville drummer, returns every year to keep ZEN on the beat at the Jam. Jason Eby from Buckhannon fills in with percussion and kit. All music can be found at: http://zen.band
The 15th Annual High Land Jam is August 11-14. Music begins 5:30 pm on Thursday, 5 pm on Friday, and 12 noon on Saturday. A three-day ticket is $60, two day ticket $50 and Saturday ticket is $25. Ticket price includes tent camping.
Online tickets are on sale now at highlandjam.com
Lineup includes West Virginia bands: ZEN, The Greens, InFormation, Allegheny Ramblers, Stevie Johnson, Good Vittles & Co., Hillbilly Carnival and Mink's Miracle Medicine.
Out-of-state bands include: Herb & Hanson, the Plate Scrapers, Mateo Monk, Bob Gross, 19th Street Band, Threesound, Karen Krajacic, Nameless in August, The Mad Anthonys, LITZ and Bones Weedsley.
Thursday is Bluegrass night, with a mixture of genres Friday and Saturday.
This beautiful and completely flat 29-acre farm in the middle of the mountains has grown into a full service campground with modern RV sites w/full hookups and one fine bath house.
RV hookup is additional and rates can be found at: pegasusfarmcampground.com