Tucson's Nam Jam has new name, place, price — free

2013-10-17T00:00:00Z 2014-07-03T10:49:18Z Tucson's Nam Jam has new name, place, price — freeBy Gerald M. Gay Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star

The annual concert event known as Nam Jam is Nam Jam no longer.

Organizers have renamed the all-day festival Jammin’ for Vets in keeping with its new direction.

What started as a way to promote awareness of Vietnam veterans has transformed into a resource for all American veterans, said Jammin’ coordinator Steven Kreamer.

Veteran agencies and organizations from throughout Southern Arizona will be on hand at Jammin’ this Saturday to help those who fought in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Vietnam veterans involved with the Tucson chapter of Vietnam Veterans of America will serve as mentors.

“If a veteran thinks it is hopeless,” Kreamer said. “they just need to look at the Vietnam vets and all that they went through. They are shining examples.”

Nam Jam organizers tested the waters at last year’s event, inviting more than 15 organizations to attend.

One participating group, the Tucson Vet Center, recorded 326 new veterans entered into its system over the course of the day.

“That is a pretty good number for one afternoon,” Kreamer said.

In addition to the name change, the concert also is moving to a new venue and will be free this year.

Its new home is at Rillito Park, 4502 N. First Ave.

Kreamer said the festival moved from Reid Park’s DeMeester Outdoor Performance Center after park officials couldn’t guarantee a back-to-back time slot with the Southern Arizona Blues Heritage Foundation’s annual blues festival.

The two events share a  sound system to cut down on costs. The blues festival will take place at Rillito Park on Sunday.

Jammin’ for Vets is going free this year for ethical reasons.

The event used to be free, but organizers had to tack on a $5 admission cost in the last several years to cover costs.

“They ran out of steam,” Kreamer said. “The event became the same reunion over and over and sponsors began drifting away.

“Philosophically, if someone needs help, they shouldn’t have to pay $5 to receive it,” Kreamer said.

The concert side of Jammin’ includes performances from LeeAnne Savage, Chuck Wagon and the Wheelchairs, East2West, Five Way Street and Angel Perez.

A motorcycle rally also will take place.

Kreamer said the local Vietnam vets involved with the event are enthusiastic about its new beginnings.

“They understand the purpose,” he said. “That it is not all about music and beer. It is about finding resources and spreading the mentor aspect of who they are.”

Contact reporter Gerald M. Gay at ggay@azstarnet.com or 807-8430.

Copyright 2014 Arizona Daily Star. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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