Jam sessions are where musicians cut their teeth. Jam sessions are mostly unplanned, with little organization or rehearsal, and rely heavily upon improvisation. Jam sessions are a time where musicians and artists alike speak the universal non-verbal language of music – a slight rhythmic change by the drummer can spark an idea for a bass player to insert a chord substitution, a guitar solo can act as a catalyst for the pianist to change the harmonic structure of a chord, and the conversation continues on to each musician.
No group has better captured the essence of the jam session better than The Roots. Before The Roots became a world-renowned, Grammy-award winning group, they were known for hosting local jam sessions in Philadelphia. After moving to New York City The Roots became a staple of NYC’s musical landscape. Artists like Bilal, D’Angelo, Jill Scott, and many others were regulars, and younger artists like Jazmine Sullivan were known to stop by The Roots’ weekly sessions as well.
Since those early days, The Roots’ Jam Session has expanded, becoming a staple of Grammy-weekend. For artists, getting an invitation from The Roots is like a stamp of approval – they don’t always pick the biggest or most popular artists, but people they respect, people that can hold their own in a jam session. Everyone from Alissa Cara and Andra Day to Ed Sheeran and Gary Clark Jr. haved graced the jam session stage.
On June 2nd, The Roots will celebrate their 11th Annual Roots Picnic – an adaptation of their longstanding jam sessions. In a season saturated by music festivals, The Roots have sectioned off their corner of the market – opting for an eclectic blend of artists ranging from Hip-Hop and R&B legends to Billboard topping artists, and it’s more affordable than other festivals, too. This year, The Roots will put their jam session on full display, with Comedian Dave Chappelle acting as the host, which means their will be plenty of surprises. This year’s Picnic will also include a newly added Podcast Stage featuring The Roots’ own, Questlove Supreme, Drink Champs with N.O.R.E., On one with Angela Rye, and others, as well as a lifestyle stage. This year’s picnic is set to be a good one!
Here’s a list of some of the artists I’m looking forward to seeing:
· The Roots (no surprise here)
· Black Thought’s Live Mixtape Featuring: Fabolous and Jadakiss
· 2 Chainz
· Sun Ra Arkestra
You can read about previous Picnic's we've covered below!