Jamie and Doug Return to Slade

This past Thursday, March 3rd, Jamie Masefield and Doug Perkins played a concert in Slade Hall for what, the umpteenth time? It was a kicking show. As Jaime and Doug agreed, “It started out slow, but it really picked up at the end.”

This was due mostly to the audience, which slowly trickled in, with typical UVM style, most arriving hours after the improvisational duo had begun to warm up. Jamie and Doug didn’t mind the delay, as the tone set by the seated fans allowed them to explore mellow, jazzier tunes. By the last hour though, the room had transformed into a wildly dancing hoedown.

As Doug said, it makes an “interesting rodeo dance with just a guitar and mandolin-it’s a testament to the enthusiasm of the crowd.” When asking Jamie’s sentiments about the show, he explained how much he always looks forward to the gig. Making the crowd connection really makes him feel rooted. Perhaps that’s why he continues to return to play at Slade.

Jamie Masefield was a University of Vermont student, and lived in Slade Hall dormitory in 1986. Today he plays with the widely acclaimed Jazz Mandolin Project, back then he was playing banjos in the Slade stairwell with Mike Gordon, running into Jon Fishman at drum circles, and jamming out for hours in Slade’s basement.

Today, Jamie is bashful about revealing who he feels his music is influenced by, admitting his interest is in preserving the unique sound of his present musical contributions. Slade’s show certainly was unique, as Slade Resident Alex Berg described, “They played exactly what needed to be played at any given time”. This ranged from slow jazz, bluegrass, and even some Led Zeppelin covers and The Grateful Dead’s “Friend of the Devil” thrown somewhere in between. The crowd’s energy really impacted the playing of the musicians. Jamie reflected that “as soon as everyone stood up, we couldn’t get away with playing anything but blue grass bumpin’.”

Doug explained his attempt to keep up with the crowd’s energy. “It makes a musician feel good to have a visual representation of the acoustic soundscape, and dancing is a way for total participation.” As more people arrived, the energy in the basement escalated to the point where Doug was playing in such a frenzy he actually broke his guitar pick. Jamie joked, “It’s really hard to break a guitar pick.”

Jamie and Doug first played together twelve years ago. Jamie has stayed in Burlington since he graduated UVM, and when Doug, who was a friend of Jamie’s brother moved here, Jamie’s brother strongly urged them to play together. Throughout their spurts of playing, Jamie says, “I’ve learned a lot through Perk about how to play.” Doug Perkins has been playing guitar in the Burlington music scene with the high energy dance grass band Smoking Grass, as well as The Gordon Stone Band, members of Phish, and numerous others.

So why do these renowned musicians return annually to play in the basement of Slade Hall? Besides Jamie’s connection with his past, they really do just enjoy the energy and enthusiasm of University of Vermont students. It’s shows like these that preserve the musical traditions of UVM.

How does it feel for Jamie to keep returning to his college dorm? “It’s a little weird. Things have changed so little…the same positive energy is flowing through the people, the walls are still painted, the same food is being shared in the family room, and we’re sitting on the same ripped up sofas.”