If you could take a solar-powered multi–wheeler filled with recording equipment and wired for sound anywhere in the world, where would you go? Jam in the Van founders Jake Cotler took theirs all around the country, giving hordes of talented artists and musicians a shot at gaining an audience while supplying a reliably rocking alternative stage at the festivals they visited, which included SXSW, Bonnaroo and High Sierra. But unfortunately, you know what came next.
Or maybe you don’t. Because since then, Jam in the Van has unleashed a flurry of top-notch musical programming — the home performances of Quaranteen and Jam in Your Van and the cooking show Band Appetit among them, with the upcoming socially-distanced outdoor cafe series Speakeasy Sessions on the way — which have pitched in to worthwhile causes such as Sweet Relief Musicians Fund to keep bands and musicians afloat during these trying times. In addition, they’ve also enlisted some of their bands to participate in our Wellness Muse program. JITV’s Kevin O’Fee recently spoke with us to talk about Jam in the Van’s contribution to the Wellness Muses and how Medicine Box has been keeping musicians sane and sound.
Q: Tell me about how JITV stepped in and stepped up for your artists since the pandemic began
Well when it first hit, entertainers were hit VERY hard, especially since we work with a lot of smaller, up-and-coming artists. Their trajectory, when you’re working your way up through clubs and everything, you want to keep up momentum as best as you can. And for a lot of those artists, it got cut off. So especially with bands who we were close with, the livestreams were originally started was our YouTube livestream for, we started out with Sweet Relief Musicians Fund. By June with the BLM protests, we shifted all of our fundraising to go to BLM-adjacent and related [funds]. With all of our livestreams, we’ve really done our best to drive attention and focus and fundraising to relevant causes.
Q: Have Medicine Box Formulations been getting them through these difficult times?
Artists really do like Medicine Box. And people have been responding very positively. Robert Randolph really liked it. He was shoving that dropper in his face on the livestream. We have an artist, Brian Nelson from Goozh and the Motion, who is paralyzed and he’s a cancer survivor and he uses that stuff to ease with his joint pain and help with general appetite things and just calling it into relaxation. Medicine Box is perfect. He can drop it in his drinks or he can take it straight from the vial. And I think he went through it pretty quick. He was like, ‘Can I get some more?’ For most, it’s a lifestyle product where they’re able to add a little bit and it adds spice in their day whenever they take it. And everyone we’ve sent this out to has responded very positively to the product and uses it in a variety of ways whether it’s recreational use or medicinal use.
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Q: Talk to me about the affiliate program. How many people will be participating?
I know we’ve got at least 10 bands since we started asking interested in joining the affiliate program. And we’re asking bands all the time. We work with a lot of California bands or we work with all kinds of artists from folk, Americana, reggae, punk rock musicians and for a number of musicians, Medicine Box kind of fits their lifestyle and brand and matches up with. It also aligns with the mentality of a lot of their fanbases.
Q: What do you hope will change after this period is over and what would you like to see return?
Especially at the height of this, where you really couldn’t go anywhere, I was watching a lot of old music festival footage. And it’s still so jarring to see when you watch any kind of concert footage. We would pack people in like sardines into these hot, sweaty venues and it was fine. Nobody thought anything of it. And I miss that. I miss a mosh pit more than anything. So I really hope to regain the ability to fill these venues up because we’re starting to lose venues all over the country. I don’t think it will be the same for at least two years, at least, just based upon the rumblings that we’re hearing.
On the other hand, I think that audiences are going to be very grateful for any performance that they get to see. So I’m hoping that people remain appreciative once it starts to come back, people from the fan side approach it with a little bit more passion and realizing that this thing can go away, that nothing is necessarily permanent and that things are bound to work against you at some time. I think it’s opened up a whole new avenue of things that [artists] can utilize. Every band had to adjust and get new skills to understand how livestreaming worked and staying connected to their audiences through livestreams and social media. So I’m hoping that after this, bands and their fans are more connected and closer and more appreciative and understanding of each other.
Wellness Muse Profile, Roanoke: Co-founded by Joey Beesley and Taylor Dupuis, the Nashville Americana combo Roanoke made a big splash with the fiery mandolin-flavored sermon “Jordan” in 2016. Since then, they’ve become a Jam in the Band favorite, playing in the van at last year’s Americana Fest. We spoke with Taylor Dupree about the band’s work, how they’re keeping afloat in the COVID era and the role plant medicine and mental health play in Taylor’s life.
Q: First of all, I note here you’re from Nashville, yet your name is kinda Virginian. What’s up with that?
The name Roanoke actually came from a horse. I grew up riding horses, and I came across a story about General Custer. He had seized a rebel War Horse named Roanoke, and went to ride him into battle, but Roanoke bucked him off. I loved the spirit of Roanoke. And of course there’s the lost colony of Roanoke. The name just held so much mystery and is rooted in so much history and seemed to fit the vibe of the band.
Q: Tell us about your interest in Medicine Box. You yourself have an interest in wellness, so how does plant medicine fit into that for you?
I heard about Medicine Box through Jam in the Van and immediately was drawn to it. Over the past 5 years or so, health and wellness has been a huge part of my lifestyle. Mental health is the most important thing in the world to me, and inspires much of my music. I’ve learned so much about the mind body connection, and how important it is to treat and heal both. Everyday I do things to strengthen my mind and body. I am a huge advocate for holistic health, and have taken the past couple years to learn about plant medicine. My meditation room is filled with herbs and tinctures! I am drawn to anything natural, and there’s nothing more natural than plants! Humans have been using them for healing for years, and they’ve done some truly amazing things. It’s scary how many toxins and chemicals are in today’s foods and pharmaceuticals, and anytime I can use plant medicine in place, I will. I deal with a lot of anxiety, and gut issues. Herbs and tinctures have been a large part of my journey to heal. Last year my mental pain turned to physical pain. My anxiety was creating pains throughout my entire body, from headaches, to chest pain, to gut pain, which was creating more anxiety. I was in and out of doctors and hospitals trying to figure out what was going on. I tried multiple medications that did not work. I was experiencing chronic pain everyday. Just goes to show how the mind and body interact. I turned to a more holistic approach. Meditating more often and leaning on my spirituality and change in lifestyle, which finally got me out of my pain cycle. Plant medicine also plays a large role in my spiritual journey. I use plant medicine before moon rituals and meditations, to help feel grounded and connected.
Q: Speak to your own wellness journey. How have your own lifestyle choices helped you chart a better course?
I have struggled with intense anxiety from a very young age. I was put on medication and never really learned how to actually deal with it until the past 5 years or so. It is still an everyday struggle, and I am always learning and changing, but I have grown so much from a change in perspective on mental health, which has led to a lifestyle change. There are a lot of important things to me in this world, but I realized I have to put mental health first. There was a point where I was drinking too much, needing the approval of others, I was insecure, and unhappy. I stopped drinking for a while, ate very clean, and did things that filled my soul, like getting outside, playing music, meditating, and turning to holistic healing such as plant medicine. Of course there are responsibilities, but you have to balance it out with things that make your heart sing. Balancing these two is sometimes very challenging for me. Walking away from relationships that no longer serve me was also a huge learning curve. You only have so much time and energy to give, and you have to be careful where it is placed. Meditation has been life changing for me, and I cannot recommend it enough. These lifestyle changes have helped me in every situation. It has helped ground me, lessen my fear, strengthen my calling, my relationships are better, my art is better, I feel valued, and I feel secure and safe within myself. I am human, and I have my ups and downs, but it’s something I work towards everyday. It’s actually something that is part of our brand as well. A lot of imagery in our art is inspired by the magical and herbal lifestyle I try to live everyday. I love connecting with fans over mental health and a healthy and spiritual lifestyle.
Q: I understand Roanoke will be doing a “virtual tour.” How does that work?
Joey and I will be making a trip out West in celebration of our new single “Dancing in the Night!” In the state of the world, we wanted to find a new way to connect with folks, so we have decided to take them on a virtual road trip. We will be live streaming the trip, and posting a bunch of content along the way, leading up to a Jam in the Van Livestream/takeover October 6th. We want people to feel like they are on the road with us, so we will be documenting the entire thing. Getting tattoos, exploring hot springs, hiking, playing music etc. We are headed to a few spiritual hubs along the way, Eureka Springs AK, Crestone CO, and Taos NM, which we are especially excited about. Immersing myself in places like that is medicine to me. We will also be writing and recording an acoustic EP on the way.