When New Jersey music fans attend a live rock show, there’s always that little bit of hope in the back of their minds that Bruce will show up. Well, in the case of a Jungle Gym Jam concert, Bruce is almost always there to sit in with the band! Oh, wait… which Bruce were you thinking of? We’re talking about “Bruce, the Jersey Dinosaur,” one of the more spectacular puppets to grace the stage at these rock concerts for kids and families. In the banter back-and-forth between singer/guitarist “Jersey Jason” and “Bruce,” ably animated and voiced by “Awesome Amy,” this hadrosaurus offers up humor and knowledge of a local legend at the same time – the knowledge that the first near-complete (and most complete ever) dinosaur found in North America was right here in New Jersey.
It is in moments like this that the Jungle Gym Jam really shines, seeking first to delight, entertain and make emotional connections, and then occasionally slip in a little scientific learning or a vital message about living in the moment and treating others kindly.
Jason and Amy are the couple that created the Jungle Gym Jam out of the inspiration they got from parenting their now-4-year-old daughter. They co-write all their lyrics, often as a way of recapturing special family memories and making them universal. They perform with a full rock band in situations of larger audience and wider age ranges like at the Bronx Zoo or Jones Beach Band Shell. They play as an acoustic duo in more intimate settings and a younger audience, at libraries, museums, pre-schools and birthday parties.
The band is made up of longtime friends and newly found kindred spirits. Drummer Rockin’ Ross Kantor and Jason have enjoyed a friendship of over 30 years, dating back to elementary school. They both performed at each other’s Bar Mitzvahs! An online search led to the addition of Cowgirl Casey McCleary to the lineup where she adds her golden doo-wop/folk inspired vocal harmonies and multi-instrumental skills. The band’s newest addition, Chip Moore on bass, hails from a band that Jason and his daughter enjoyed so much they were dancing in the street where this group was performing at a town event. That band is Rainbow Fresh; Chip continues to gig actively with Rainbow Fresh at night while putting in most of his Jungle Gym Jam appearances in the daylight hours. Chip’s presence in the group is helping the band move on from a terrible tragedy. Mr. Lou DeMartino was a previous bassist until an asthma attack suddenly cut short his life. Lou was primarily a member of Joe D’Urso and Stone Caravan and he was hugely popular on the Asbury Park music scene.
The Jungle Gym Jam had begun early in 2013 as a songwriting project that suddenly landed a large outdoor gig that would require a band. Not long after forming, the band entered the studio and by early 2014 released their first album “Everyone’s Invited,” which won the Parents’ Choice Approved Seal and became a CD Baby Editor’s Pick as it peaked at #2 on the online record store’s Children’s Music chart. They’re currently recording a follow-up album that celebrates the wonderful moments of a family trip to the beach, presently titled “Lollipop Motel,” with a plan to release this new album in May 2016 and some singles from the record along the way.
Amy and Jason have really dedicated themselves to the larger children’s entertainment community over the past two years, having created and hosted an award-winning local access TV show called “The Cool Rockin’ Daddy Video Show,” which featured music videos by fellow kindie artists. Last spring, they ran a 15-concert series for kids (each with a different artist performing) at the legendary Maxwell’s Tavern in Hoboken. Jason also hosts a podcast called “Make Kindie Happen,” which offers interviews with children’s entertainers and industry professionals with the goal of helping children’s musicians raise their game creatively and professionally.
For more information, visit www.junglegymjam.com or call Jason at 201-838-1205.