Interesting details emerge on how it all went down on November 25 — the night Hollywood came super close to seen a full reunion of the ‘Eat ‘Em and Smile Band.’
TheUltimate Jam Night Morning After Report, Version 44 (The Shut Down Edition)
If you’ve been to any of the 43 Ultimate Jam Night’s that preceded 44 you know what we’re all about – creating a resurrection of rock music through the intertwined spirit of each other. We have stated and repeatedly encapsulated it in our closing statement: “Rock Music Is A Community And You’re A Part Of It.”
Well that thought seems to have registered with a few people. Oy, did it register with a few people.
We worked diligently as always putting together another edition of Ultimate Jam Night – continuing to give you incredible performers and performances, in a setting that felt like a social gathering of friends and family.
What ensued was a full-fledged rock concert broke out.
Nearly 3,000 people showed up. They lined the block all the way down Highland Avenue, around the corner and half way down Hollywood Boulevard. No sooner did one wave get handled then another wave emerged.
Last minute guests and VIP’s were coming out of the wood work without advance notice trying to get in. If you knew the names of some folks that showed up that we turned away you’d be shocked. They were people that another 3,000 people would have lined up to see on their own.
At one point we even had a guitarist showing us his Wiki profile and photos to prove who he was. It was absolute madness.
All of this without even telling you that David Lee Roth was going to be on stage.
In the 43 prior weeks of Ultimate Jam Night we’ve done some amazing things. Mind-boggling performances, community and charitable giving, the uncovering of new talent, the celebration of the legends of music history (we had Hendrix mentor on the week before). The feeling created has been unlike anything in the world of music today.
For many of our editions we’ve been honored to have one of the greatest living bass players perform – Billy Sheehan of The Winery Dogs. Before his recent tour run with The Winery Dogs he coaxed a friend out – celebrated drummer Gregg Bissonette (currently with Ringo Starr among other projects) and they played a couple of tunes and had a great time alongside other regular UJN performers like Stephen Chesney (Waking Jonah). They had such a great time that an idea hatched…what about having Steve Vai join them for a fun little reunion of some songs from the Eat ‘Em and Smile Band? Would we be up for it? We think you know the answer to that question.
Sheehan, Bissonette, and Vai are at the absolute top of what they do and are extremely busy. Nonetheless they sorted out a date that would work with their schedules for sometime in late November.
So we kept it on the back burner until we got official notice that it would happen – one week before announced to the public. Floated along with the idea of course was the thought that maybe David Lee Roth would be interested in joining them. Collectively we didn’t hold out much hope of that happening, but of course we wanted to see it.
As the date neared we planned with Billy, Gregg, and Steve all the particulars. When they’d be on, the songs they’d do, what they needed in support – as we do with all Ultimate Jam Night guests. We announced it – like we do in regular fashion – and within hours our lives would change.
Interest immediately sparked. Within the first hour after the announcement the Ultimate Jam Night Facebook page recorded 30,000 people interacting with it. Then the phones started to ring. The buzz was BUZZZZZING.
At this point this was all about just three members of Eat ‘Em and Smile. Given the concerns about having David join them, the players arranged for Ralph Saenz (Michael Starr) of Steel Panther to perform with them as their vocalist. That became part of the announcement.
Our job at Ultimate Jam Night is sincerely dedicated to proving that rock music is alive and kicking – and we shared the announcement with a few press outlets that have previously covered our efforts. Once it hit their blogs, it got picked up – again, and again, and again. It got to the point where your intrepid writer was on the phone beginning at 4:30 am dealing with east coast interests until 1:30 am the following morning to sort through the rest of the world – each day for the days leading up to 44. That’s how crazy it was, and that was just one person. In the meantime our entire team was being besieged from every possible direction.
As the performance date grew near we were getting interest from other performers who wanted to be on the bill. Another quirk of the schedule allowed us to have John 5 with us – as we had mutually tried to get together for many earlier Ultimate Jam Nights. Then it was the guys from Filter that came on board, Phil X was down, Rafael “Hoffa” Moreira would be back, and on and on. We told you as they each came on board. Major players were being added left and right and there was no doubt that this Ultimate Jam Night would be THE ULTIMATE JAM NIGHT. Except there was even more in store…
Another quirk of the schedule and we learned that Brett Tuggle, the original keyboardist for the Eat ‘Em and Smile Band would be joining them as well. Now you had the 4 original guys all playing together – it was going to be pretty special, and Ralph would still sing.
Late Tuesday night we got a call. DLR would be joining and it needed to be kept under wraps – serious, serious wraps. As there was already insane interest, a DLR announcement would throw this thing off the moon. Several calls were exchanged, extremely tight security measures were discussed, and a way to keep the surprise was put in place.
Audience interest was still growing, and growing, and growing. Radio was picking up the event. Sirius XM was featuring it across its platform. We even managed to finally get the attention of local television and Los Angeles’ KTLA Channel 5 announced the event – speculating about DLR, an announcement that we never even made.
With surging interest we actually put a plan in place to encourage people to NOT come – a first in Ultimate Jam Night history. Posts were made warning about long lines and the likelihood of not getting in. Contingencies were created for how to deal with potentially disappointed people – including reports that we were receiving that folks were driving 8 hours from other states just to see the show. All of this without even knowing that DLR would be performing.
We kept everything tightly under wraps and with a contingency of having Ralph sing because honestly we were concerned that the crush of enthusiasm might keep DLR away at the last minute.
As the show approached we fielded guest list requests and set a door time – we were holding doors – for the first in Ultimate Jam Night history.
Knowing that some folks might not be able to get in, we created give-away items and walked the line to distribute them and personally thank everyone for coming down. Our thought was if they couldn’t get in, we wanted everyone to at least leave with a sense of who we are and what we do – which is appreciate everyone interested in helping grow the interest in Rock Music.
And then…..Ultimate Jam Night turned into a rock concert. As the first wave of people got in it looked like we were going to have our normal busy night. So we went about readying and running the show like we normally do…except the mayhem didn’t stop.
Heading from backstage to the front we suddenly noticed a photography well filled with 5 times the amount of press coverage we normally see. VIP’s were squished into folding chairs.
The show opened, and we did our normal approach – an opening act, and a first set, with the idea to follow with a second set.
At the end of the first set, as pre-planned with the artists private security team we had a black SUV pull up so that we could wisk both Steve Vai and DLR discreetly into the building just slightly in advance of their play. Now we’d not only have to deal with the crowd, but we even had to attempt to control the amount of other players in the tiny back-stage area in the interest of security.
Steve made it in the building, but DLR decided he wanted to do some vocal warm-ups and drove around the block a few times while an alternate security plan was readied. Except a hiccup occurred – when Steve Vai entered the building the car window went down, David Lee Roth was in the passenger seat, and the sidewalk crowd knew what was about to ensue.
The words “Holy Shit!” spread down the line and buzz was starting at an entirely new level. But simultaneously the room was more and more packed.
We ended the first set, and hurried to prepare the stage for what everyone had been waiting for. Since the majority in the room itself still didn’t know that DLR was to perform we had the ultimate secret ready for the Ultimate Jam Night. The plan was to have the curtain closed and with Steve Vai’s first guitar notes reveal the Eat ‘Em and Smile Band playing. Behind the back curtain from a wireless microphone you’d hear some of the familiar vocal notes of “Yankee Rose” thinking that it was Ralph – only to have it then revealed to have DLR walk through the curtain and create a moment in history to surprise you – and be the biggest thanks to the rock music community we could think of for its loyal 43 weeks of support leading up to that moment. Alas it was not to be. Seconds, and we mean seconds before the band was to play we were alerted that the Fire Marshall had shown up. Venue management then came to us on stage and described what they wanted to do. We tried as quickly as we could to find a way to make this moment still come off. We asked some of you to leave, we tried clearing the room. We offered to do the show twice. We offered the opportunity for a meet and greet. The artists themselves even offered to pay any fine if we could just go on, and have enough time to clear the room to allow the show to continue. Alas it was not to be.
We were all beyond disappointed. A band that hadn’t been together soooooooo wanted to play. What makes it even more remarkable is that in true unrehearsed Ultimate Jam Night fashion, they were going to do it without rehearsal – live before your ears. This was a moment…this was THE moment that was to be a memory of many lives – and we were shut down.
Not only were the guys in the Eat ‘Em and Smile band affected but artists including folks from The Drills, Magnetico, The Iron Maidens, The Circle Jerks, Biohazard, and more were shut down as well. It was an awful feeling seeing sad faces of artists gathering their gear without having a chance to express their talent.
There is no worse feeling than telling someone who’s ready to perform that they can’t. Doing it to these folks is like the gut punch of all gut punches. Images were captured that at some point will probably be history in their own right. Just know that the story isn’t over, and when the next chapter is ready we will let you know.