JAMS composes a community of music in Santa Barbara’s eastside

Nancy Gould takes the vocals for “Ain’t No Sunshine” by Bill Withers during a session at JAMS on Wednesday, April 20 in Santa Barbara, Calif. JAMS offers a space for members of the Santa Barbara community to play music regardless of skill level.

Yarrow Hogan, Staff Writer

Dozens of musicians gather together to serenade the room as the sun goes down behind the hills.

Faded red suede sneakers tap along to every beat while guitarists turn into drummers and two voices harmonize one another. 

Jasmine’s Alternative Music School or JAMS is a multi-use music studio in Santa Barbara’s eastside created by Nancy Earle to provide an inclusive space where musicians of all ages and skill levels come together.

Dedicated to her daughter Jasmine who passed away at a young age, Earle coined the idea of JAMS after enduring the grief of losing her daughter. Jasmine was a 10-year-old budding rockstar who was the inspiration that helped hundreds of people explore the world of music.

“She took her grief and transformed it into something joyful,” said City College student and JAMS volunteer Maria Cincotta. “She wanted to bring joy into the lives of people who have sorrow.”

Beginning in 1997 as a donation-based foundation called the Star Jasmine Music Foundation, the goal was to support children who don’t have access to musical instruments. Growing into something larger, JAMS is now a community full of talented musicians who all share a passion for music.

With activities ranging from weekly group jam sessions, summer camps, and private lessons, “anyone who might not have had the chance to play and sing with other people before, it’s a good place to plug in,” said Cincotta. “We have a ton of fun, it’s ridiculously fun.”

Every third Wednesday of the month, strangers turn into stage partners while people of all backgrounds and talents come to play together. Each musician comes with certain skills and contributes something unique to form a cohesive and supportive environment.

Starting off the night with “Ain’t No Sunshine” by Bill Withers each person took turns suggesting a song and leading it, creating their own rendition of a song. In between breaths of “I Will Survive,” Cincotta shouted, “who’s taking a solo” followed by an outburst of drums and guitar riffs.

Each wall of the studio is lined with guitars and everywhere you look is home to another instrument. Guests are invited to use any instrument of their choice and encouraged to pick up something new. 

City College student Alexander Stull brings his talents on the drums, coming to JAMS because it fulfills a sense of community, brings people together and “it’s just fun.”

JAMS is always trying to expand and bring its voice outside of the walls of the studio. In the future, a goal is to bring joy to places that need it and create opportunities for everybody.

JAMS offers a wide variety of activities and workshops. The programs range from free sessions, donation-based classes and paid lessons and camps. More information can be found on their website.

With music pouring out of open doors, JAMS is open to anyone who wants to pick up an instrument and join the community.