Our Story

Where it all Began

In 2001, bandleader, arranger and VCU Jazz guru Doug Richards along with Wally Thulin, promoter, manager and serious music lover, hatched a plan to enhance the traditional music scene in Richmond, not only in the schools but also in the community. Their grassroots idea would quickly gain momentum and grow into what is now known as JAMinc.

The organization would soon secure 501(c)(3) status and become a successful, nonprofit organization promoting music education and appreciation in local public and private schools through the support of nationally and internationally recognized folk, bluegrass, gospel, jazz, and blues musicians. JAMinc’s mission is simple, but powerful—to open minds, hearts and ears to music deserving a wider audience through education, performance, and support. 

The Key Players

JAMinc functions through the hard work and dedication of an all-volunteer board of directors, made up of individuals with diverse musical interests and backgrounds. Our current board roster is as follows:

Jim Bland – Founder and owner of Plan 9 Music, an independent music retailer. Founder of Planetary Records, a record label devoted to local and regional talent. Tireless supporter of local and live music.

Andy Garrigue — Business owner with a passion for music, especially blues. Music critic/correspondent since 1991 (currently Richmond Times-Dispatch). Harmonica player.

Joe Gianfortoni — retired physician, adventurer, music aficionado. Volunteer bookkeeper for JAMinc.

Kay Landry— former promoter/sound tech at Ashland Coffee & Tea. Consultant to restoration/programming of the Ashland Theater.

Justin Laughter – Start-up, intellectual property, and entertainment attorney with Threshold Counsel, PC.  Leader of Silly Bus, an educational media company, and a performer in the quirky pop-rock group, Flashlight Tag.

Bill Rice – Life-long resident of RVA, former photojournalist with TV8 and current supporter of the local music scene via the Richmond Folk Festival (artist host), the Old Dominion Barn Dance (stage manager)

Wally Thulin – Founder of Fieldcrest Music and JAMinc, a promoter of bluegrass, jazz & Americana concerts. Also artist manager & label owner.

Tim Timberlake – Veteran emcee/stage manager of folk, bluegrass and Americana events. Programming Committee-Richmond Folk Festival. Now hosting JAMinc’s In Your Ear radio show on WCVE Richmond Public Radio.

Samson Trinh— musician, bandleader, educator, on the faculty of SPARC’s Live Art.  Musical Arts Director, the Steward School.

We would also like to acknowledge significant contribution of two former board members who we lost to cancer:  W. Scott Street, a distinguished attorney and past president of the Virginia State Bar but more importantly a player and lover of the banjo and bluegrass.  His pro bono support of musicians all over the country is legendary.  Each October, JAMinc and the Richmond Folk Festival present the Scott Street Five String Finals in his memory, a youth banjo contest with substantial prize money for the winners.  Learn about it at www.richmondfolkfestival.org/banjo.

We also lost Richmond singer/songwriter and musical force Robbin Thompsonin the fall of 2015. Besides his long and impressive career making records and as a potent performer, it was Robbin’s idea to start our successful house-style concert series in his home studio back in 2004.

More about that straight ahead…

In Your Ear Studio Concerts

Soon after its founding, JAMinc board members and friends were actively seeking a venue to present the kind of under-the-radar artists that were all too hard to hear in Richmond.  We were looking for backers and a place we could turn into a proper place for intimate live music.  Robbin Thompson realized we had just the spot right under our nose.  Studio A at his home studio In Your Ear in historic Shockoe Bottom.  So since 2004, we’ve been staging monthly performances in the intimate 80-seat space featuring folks you’ve likely heard of like Howard Levy, the Kruger Brothers, Alison Brown, Wayne Henderson and Cadillac Sky, and many more you probably haven’t.  We recently celebrated our 100th In Your Ear concert featuring former RVA favorites Mike McAdam and Bill Blue.  They always begin with a tempting pot luck buffet in the lobby and a chance to get to know the musicians.  In 2018, we were recognized by the readers of Style Weekly as one of Richmond’s top three live music series along with Friday Cheers and Innsbrook After Hours.  All concerts are carefully preserved through multi-track recording and they live again as part of JAMinc’s In Your Ear radio show airing for part of the year on WCVE Music/Richmond Public Radio.  There are now 54 hour-long shows in our archives and all are available for online streaming at www.ideastations.org/iye

Send us an email to join our notification list for future In Your Ear Studio A concerts:   info@jaminc.org

 Community sponsors also play a key role in the mission of JAMinc and underwriting our radio program. The roster currently includes the Community Idea Stations/Richmond Public Radio, Digital Video Group, Infinity Financial Partners, Threshold Counsel PC, the Virginia Folklife Program at Virginia Humanities and the Hampton Inn- Richmond West at Innsbrook.

Bringing Music to The Students

Since 2003, JAMinc has organized countless in-school musical events at over 50 Richmond schools including, Mary Munford Elementary, Miles Jones Elementary, Collegiate School, Binford Middle School, the Steward School, St. Andrews School, Maggie Walker Governor’s School, and St. Christopher’s School. These free performances typically draw crowds of 300-500 students. Through these events, more than 90,000 K-12 students have been exposed to traditional music that they would not likely hear as part of their regular music curriculum. Musicians who agree to work with JAMinc are paid an honorarium for in-school events, usually two or three in conjunction with their In Your Ear concert appearance.  Visiting musicians are also provided with complimentary accommodations at a local sponsoring hotel.

In 2006, JAMinc began a partnership with the National Folk Festival—now the Richmond Folk Festival—to bring national and international musicians into schools for educational performances during the festival week. In the years since its founding, JAMinc volunteers have coordinated these events and provided transportation for the visiting artists from all over the world. This partnership will serve as an important conduit for JAMinc to expose students to a variety of musical styles for years to come. 

Get Involved

Since 2001, JAMinc has grown from an idea among friends to an organization that creates immeasurable music education and appreciation opportunities not only for Richmond area students, but for the entire community. In order to continue to meet our mission, the hardworking volunteers at JAMinc need an ongoing commitment from the local community.

If you are a principal or educator who would like to partner with JAMinc for future in-school events, a musician who would like to perform, a local business owner who is interested in sponsorship opportunities or a music lover who would like to volunteer to assist with concerts, please contact Tim Timberlake at info@jaminc.org

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