Junction Arts and Music (JAM) has a big year planned. After 20 years, close to 400 events and more than 17,000 attendees, they have a lot to celebrate. They kicked off their anniversary year in January, with Sarah MacDougall performing in Haines Junction as part of her CD release party. According to Holly Dalrymple, the organization’s executive director, it was “more than we could have hoped for.”

“It was early January and really flipping cold,” she said. “It was really catering to the residents of Haines Junction. We had over 80 people. The band loved it, which was great. With Sarah (MacDougall), it was a good segue. It was the kickoff of her tour as well.”

In February, JAM partnered with Jazz on the Wing to bring Vancouver’s Jodi Proznick to Haines Junction in advance of her performance at the Yukon Arts Centre. Their February schedule also included their La Belle en Hiver event, co-hosted with the Association franco-yukonnaise, featuring a wine and cheese tasting. In an email, Darlene Sillery, a longtime JAM organizer, explained the evolution of the organization. It began in the community as the Society for Education and Culture in May of 1999 (its name was changed to JAM in 2007). Its first event was the Symposium on Wisdom and Wilderness.

The second event featured a concert by Anne Louise Genest, accompanied by a second symposium. From there, the organization made sure that all later events featured an artistic component, ranging from music, theatre, dance, comedy, film, photography, writing, including national and international visual arts, as well as dozens of Yukon musicians. In addition, they’ve included workshops and school shows as part of the programming when artists have been willing.

PHOTO: Bruce Binder
JAM hosted Indigenous Russian drummers in 2015

Some of the most noteworthy events include Po’ Girl, Corb Lund, Fred Eaglesmith, Ladies of the Canyon, Valle Son, Madagascar Slim and Tanya Tagaq. However, Sillery shares that they do have a favourite. “Our most loved event was a group called Britain’s Finest—the ultimate Beatles tribute band experience (pictured above),’” she said. “They played two nights in January 2016.”

Jazz Yukon and Whitehorse Concerts have partnered with JAM since 2002, but, over the years, they have also partnered with most of the arts organizations across the territory, including the Yukon Arts Centre, Gwaandak Theatre, Nakai Theatre, Frostbite Festival, Atlin Arts & Music Festival, Live Words Writers’ Festival, Available Light Film Festival, the Storytelling Festival, the Yukon Film Society, Yukon Women in Music and some Southeast Alaska Arts organizations. They will continue to celebrate this success over the coming months. The first weekend in March featured a painting workshop with Maya Rosenberg for youth and artists.

Their big weekend celebration will take place on the May 4 weekend. The main event will feature a dinner and Yukon band, Major Funk and the Employment. They are still adding more events to the weekend, but it promises to be a great time in the Junction.

For more information on the JAM 20th anniversary plans, visit JunctionJam.ca.