Festival organizers say they'll be ready

The 42nd June Jam won’t happen next month. But festival founder Bob Hartley is confident they’ll get to Jam on their new date, which is Aug. 15, he told the Dover Post today.

Hartley said he’ll make a formal announcement about the postponement of his festival (held at the G&R Recreational Campground in Houston) on either June 2 or June 3.

Despite not sharing that information on his website yet, the festival founder is assured the charity fundraiser will do well in August.

That’s because, “it’s [been] very surprising that our core supporters are still buying tickets and buying camp sites, even when they’re not certain we’re gonna have the event,” he said.

Hartley and his team have been holding weekly virtual meetings to discuss how they’ll be able to host the festival in a way that meets the state’s new COVID-19 guidelines.

June Jam organizers are currently in the planning phase and are being advised by medical experts on how they can make the event as safe and fun as possible, he said.

One thing Hartley revealed is they’ll place bales of hay 10 feet in front of the stage, helping patrons to social distance from performers. Patrons will also be reminded to social distance among themselves on the spacious festival grounds.

“ We’ve got 30 acres, so you can spread out with your own little group or family and have a little picnic-type barbecue and listen to music,” Hartley said. “Our great sound system transmits throughout the whole 30 acres, so I think we’re in pretty good shape, as opposed to someone who has an indoor venue.”

Magnificent seven 

Seven acts are in the lineup and the biggest one is the national Tom Petty tribute band Damn The Torpedoes. There’s also Jason Morton and the Chesapeake Sons, Hotwire, Joey Fulkerson & Nothin But Trouble, Scrapple, Tenfold Trouble and Petting Hendrix.

Hartley said Jason Morton is a Nashville band with a lot of promise, while Hotwire was one of Delaware’s most popular bands for 10 years. Hotwire is gonna play a reunion show at the festival.

“We have seven bands that are very anxious to play and we’re very anxious to show them off,” Hartley said.

The June Jam founder, who’s seen Rock & Roll Hall of Famer Tom Petty live about six times, said tribute band Damn The Torpedoes is the real deal.

“A lot of people didn’t get a chance to see Tom Petty. I did, I got a chance to see him at Firefly,” Hartley said. “If you wanna hear Tom Petty, this is the closest you’re gonna get.

“I had backstage passes to Tom Petty, Grateful Dead and Bob Dylan down in DC when he played the RFK Stadium years ago. I saw him play with Stevie Nix when they each had songs out together,” he added. “I’ve been a Petty fan from way back.”

Festival for a cause 

June Jam is a nonprofit organization made up of 100 volunteers. While the namesake festival is one of the organization’s primary events, the nonprofit does more than that. It raises funds year-round for local people in need and for charitable organizations throughout Delmarva.

The idea for June Jam started in 1978 after Hartley’s classmate at Caesar Rodney High School became one of three men who got electrocuted while repairing a roof. One man died. In 1979 the nonprofit was born and proceeds were raised to benefit the two survivors.

The organization has raised around $1 million.

Fingers crossed 

Under the state’s latest COVID-19 guidelines, outdoor gatherings of 250 people will be allowed starting June 1. Hartley said June Jam attracts about 1,000 guests.

The festival organizer is hopeful the state will allow for more guests in time for his August festival. But he’s also prepared to deal with whatever cards he’s dealt, he explained.

“I think August is a good date because it’s still in the summer time and it’s far enough away that hopefully [positive COVID-19 cases] will continue to trend downward,” he said. “Our intention is to have a June Jam in some way, some form, somehow at G&R Campground in 2020.”