A Kinrowan Estate Story: The Endless Jam

Midsummer’s coming! Time for the season of outdoor delights and endless nights, and guests coming and going through all the strangest Doors in the Green Man Pub.

Have you heard the Endless Jam? No, not the Neverending Session; we’re almost certain those guys are alive — they eat and drink and fall asleep under the tables in the Pub, and I’m pretty sure one of the pipers knocked up that little blonde sous-chef last winter. The Endless Jam is different. Very different.

You know that old joke, about how they must have a hell of a band in Heaven? Well, I don’t know about Heaven, but we sure have one in the Great Hall. Started showing up in the ’50s. they say. Right after the Big Bopper kicked the jam jar, ‘Chantilly Lace’ started booming through the Great Hall, like thunder through chocolate pudding. ‘Peggy Sue’, and ‘La Bamba’ were right behind it, so it was pretty obvious who was haunting the Great Hall. Before long, folks started to glimpse them, too: JP Richardson, Buddy Holly, Richie Valens — especially Holly, with those grave eyes behind the heavy glasses that somehow made him look cool instead of geeky.

They showed up in droves in the ’60s. Stars, session men, back up singers, all the pretty girls (and boys) who ever went for take-away with a band. Hard times, man, but the world’s loss was our gain. On the subject of strange Doors, you can often find Morrison in there, lazily working on a poem — he tends to write them in green flames n the air, but then no one really believes that guy was human, anyway. Cobain likes to look over his shoulder and take notes. Hendrix sways and burns like a mad candle flame; he’s been sitting in on some really funky duets, too, since Warren Zevon showed up.

Yes, of course The King is here! Can’t guarantee he’s dead — people see him so many other places — but he sure shows up in the Great Hall. In good shape, too. Lately he’s been favouring hymns and spirituals, jamming with Janice Joplin and Mama Cass — what a sound! Elvis is dark honey and Janice is burning whiskey, and Cass is the sweet cream that turns it all into confection. Keep your chicken soup; this is brose for the ears, I tell you.

Lennon’s taken over an alcove by the fireplace, where sometimes he declaims hilarious nonsense and sometimes he plays guitar to break the gates of Hell. When those lazy eyes open wide it’s like a lightning strike; he stands like a martial angel with a guitar instead of a flaming sword, holding back Death. The last few years, a dark shadow occasionally wanders into stand at his left, supplying the melody — George may be free of the Wheel of Life, but he still comes back to make music. Keith Moon’s drumming for them right now; sitting in for the duration, one assumes. And there’s a lovely tinkle at the high end of the keyboard, a sweet little ripple of tiara music, Nicky Hopkins just off to one side where you can’t quite see him.

We’re knee deep in ghosts around here, but very few of them play classic rock and roll. Except the Jam, of course — and they just keep getting better all the time. The real rockers just don’t lie down and sleep, you know? Neither does anyone else in the Great Hall: it’s the place to go when you need that beat in your bones, that sound that takes over your blood and reshapes your lungs into a dragon’s — gasping in the breath of gods and breathing out living fire.

Come Midsummer’s they’ll leave the Hall and take over the Courtyard – and then, from dusk to dusk, the air will burn and shiver with the wildest free concert of all time. Be there or be square. As we used to say

There’s a party going on.
Gonna last the Summer long.

About Deborah Grabien

Deborah Grabien can claim a long personal acquaintance with the fleshpots — and quiet little towns — of Europe. She has lived and worked and hung out, from London to Geneva to Paris to Florence, and a few stops in between.

But home is where the heart is. Since her first look at the Bay Area in 1969, she’s always come home to San Francisco. In 1981, after spending some years in Europe, she came back to Northern California to stay.

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