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| posted on 12/13/2007 at 12:18 PM|
Haynes’ wife is the force behind Christmas Jam
By Tony Kiss
December 13, 2007 12:15 am
Stefani Scamardo isn’t a rock star herself, but many say she’s the powerhouse behind the annual Warren Haynes Christmas Jam.
Wife and manager of Grammy-winning guitar star Haynes (who grew up here), Scamardo and her Hard Head Management team organize and execute the annual Christmas Jam — Asheville’s biggest ticketed concert event of the year.
Audio- Stefanie Scamardo, wife of Warren Haynes, talks about the Christmas Jam and her role in organizing the annual event. (14,925 KB) - http://tinyurl.com/2hh6nc
The show pulls more than 7,000 fans to the Civic Center, some who travel across the country for the concert, filling hotel rooms and restaurants through the weekend. So far, the jam has raised $650,000 for Habitat for Humanity to build affordable housing here.
The sold-out 2007 show is Saturday, with a lineup including Jackson Browne, Bruce Hornsby, Peter Frampton, G. Love, Grace Potter and the Nocturnals and Haynes’ own jam-rock band, Gov’t Mule.
“I really enjoy what I do,” said Scamardo. “It’s kind of a lifelong dream to be able to achieve this level of involvement in this world we care so much about and to give back in such a big way.”
Making it happen
“She is the person who has worked hardest on the jam,” said Haynes. “She has put the most thought and time into it. There is no way that it would have grown without her insight and foresight.”
It was Scamardo who pushed to transform the Christmas Jam from a small event featuring local musicians at a downtown nightclub into an all-star rock spectacular.
“She is the one who took this jam to the level it is today,” said Lew Kraus, executive director of the Asheville Area Habitat for Humanity. Scamardo is “a motivator,” said veteran Asheville musician Mike Barnes, who has known Haynes since childhood. “She seems to have a real knack for getting things organized.”
When Warren met Stef
It was pure “fate” that brought the couple together in 1989 at an Allman Brothers concert in Baltimore, she said. The show had long been sold out, but calling the box office, Scamardo landed the last two tickets and wound up sitting with friends of the band. She was invited backstage where she met Haynes, a member of the group.
It wasn’t long before they made an emotional connection, but Haynes was living in Nashville and Scamardo was in New York.
“We spent a lot of time on the phone and making special trips to see each other,” she said. “We were able to develop our relationship the real way, not the rock ‘n’ roll way. It was very organic, not rushed.” The couple married in 1997.
Taking the jam to a new level
The Christmas Jam began in 1988 at the long-gone 45 Cherry nightclub in Asheville (although the jam organization starts the history a year later). The jam was quickly a hit, drawing sold-out crowds, and in 1992, it moved to the Be Here Now club on Biltmore Avenue.
Scamardo realized the show’s potential — and its limitation at a nightclub.
“It was so crowded” at Be Here Now, she said. “I got frustrated and said ‘We’ve got to move this event, it’s got to go where we have room, where we can invite these (bigger name) artists. And (Haynes) said ‘That’s fine.’ But he didn’t have time to promote a show, and I said ‘I’ll do it.’
“The obvious move was to Wolfe Auditorium, and we sold it out. The (next) obvious move was to the Civic Center (arena). And we’ve sold it out every year. At this point, we have such a national platform, I wish there was a 20,000-seat arena there (in Asheville).”
Next year, the Christmas Jam will expand to two nights, to celebrate its 20th anniversary.
Putting it together
Work on the jam begins months in advance, Haynes and Scamardo said. “The entire (Hard Head) company works on the event,” she said. “Warren and I sit down and make a master list (of possible performers),” she said. “Everyone we know, we do the contacting. Everyone we don’t know, we bring in our agent.”
The lineup can change unexpectedly. Last year, Peter Frampton was scheduled to perform, but had to withdraw. This year he’s able to play.
Staging the show is an impressive task. “We have a production at the Asheville Civic Center that you would bring into Madison Square Garden,” Scamardo said. “It’s massive, with sound and lights, and every year, we bring in more.”
Once the show is over, the couple will spend time with Haynes’ family here, and Scamardo’s in Virginia, then return to New York where Haynes and Gov’t Mule perform at the Beacon Theatre in New York Dec. 28-29 and Dec. 31.
In addition to producing the Christmas Jam (and a summer Mountain Jam in Hunter Mountain, N.Y.), Scamardo also manages Haynes’ career and other artists, including DJ Logic. She runs Hard Head Management and Evil Teen Records. And she’s a DJ on Sirius satellite radio’s Jam On channel, where she’s hosted a show for four years.
“She has a loyal audience that has come to know her as someone with incredible access to the music community,” said Gary Schoenwetter, who oversees the Jam On channel at Sirius. “She has an incredible passion for the world of live music.”
Scamardo is “smart as a whip,” said long-time Asheville musician Mick Hayes, who has known Haynes since the early 1980s. “(Scamardo) always lands on what is best for Warren. She’s the mastermind, and I don’t think that is stretching it.”
Scamardo and Haynes have “a totally perfect relationship,” said Jay Bau, who has worked with them at Hard Head Management for five years. “She’s driven. She is competitive in a good way.”
While producing the jam is “exhausting,” it’s also a “a labor of love,’’ Scamardo said. “You put in these long hours, but it’s so gratifying.”
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| posted on 12/13/2007 at 03:52 PM|
|They look beautiful in that photo. Nice article.|
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| posted on 12/13/2007 at 03:56 PM|
|I thought the same Ang! Wow! |
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| posted on 12/13/2007 at 04:10 PM|
quote:ditto (or tritto, susea?) Very nice article and pic of the couple.
They look beautiful in that photo. Nice article.
"Come on down to the Mermaid Cafe and I will buy you a bottle of wine, and we'll laugh and toast to nothing and smash our empty glasses down..."
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| posted on 12/13/2007 at 06:40 PM|
|Great read thanks for sharing.|
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| posted on 12/13/2007 at 09:33 PM|
|That's a nice looking picture of Stef. And a cool article. |
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| posted on 12/14/2007 at 02:18 AM|
Haynes brings stars to town for annual Jam
By Tony Kiss
December 14, 2007 12:15 am
Every year, the Warren Haynes Christmas Jam evolves and goes in new
directions. So it's no surprise that Grammy-winning guitar star Haynes
has added some new twists for this year's sold-out date at the Civic
This year's Christmas Jam weekend includes some new additions: film
screenings at the Fine Arts Theatre, jam-affiliated shows at Stella
Blue and Jack of the Wood, and an art exhibit at the Golden Gate Gallery.
Haynes, who grew up here, is always on the go. This week has been
particularly crazy — he and his wife, Stefani Scamardo, just dashed
over to London to catch the Led Zeppelin reunion show before heading
back here for Friday night's pre-jam at The Orange Peel and the
Saturday night main show at the Civic Center. And Dec. 28-31, Haynes
and his band Gov't Mule play the Beacon Theatre in New York.
Haynes and Scamardo are already thinking ahead to 2008: To celebrate
the show's 20-year history, they'll do two nights at the Civic Center.
We grabbed Haynes for a phone chat last week.
On his nonstop schedule: "The last seven or eight years have been
nuts, in a good way. I will be swamped pretty much until the jam. But
it's something I look forward to. As much work as it is, it's worth
it. Aside from the charity, it's the musical experience."
On this year's headliners: "Peter Frampton wanted to come last year,
but something changed, and he had to take a rain check. I've been a
fan all the way back to Humble Pie. Jackson (Browne) and I have been
friends for a long time. He's one of the great singer-songwriters of
all time. (Bruce Hornsby), we have talked (about the jam) for the last
several years. Grace Potter and Nocturnals is a new band that's been
kicking up a stir. We just finished a two-month tour together. I am
really impressed with their work ethic. G (Love) and I have been
friends for years, and for some reason, I'd never talked with him
about the jam. We were chatting and he said he'd love to do it."
On his long friendship with Mike Barnes, who has played on most of the
jams since the first: "He's one of my oldest and dearest friends,
aside from being a wonderful musician. We kind of learned to play
together. We grew up as teenagers playing in garage bands and sharing
On the future: "We are hoping to have a family in the future. And I am
sure my schedule will slow down. There are a lot of aspects I want to
concentrate on: writing, recording and producing. I'm having as much
fun as I've ever had playing music."
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