After returning from tours over spring break, many of Yale’s a cappella groups are organizing large, capstone concerts that serve as their last performances of the academic year.
According to tradition, groups often title their April concerts with a pun on the word “jam.” The planning for some of these upcoming concerts began last fall, although ensembles that held their jams in February had to spend winter break in a flurry of rehearsals and planning. And for others, like the all-male Baker’s Dozen, planning begins only one month before the April jam performance. These concerts are usually immediately preceded or followed by alumni events where current members meet and talk with the group’s alumni.
A hallmark of the a cappella jam tradition is the wordplay that groups use to establish their aesthetic and culture on campus. For example, Redhot and Blue titled their event “Jamily Reunion” while others like Proof of the Pudding alluded to the nature of their comedic singing and style by calling the event, “Mary Had A Little Jam.” For Proof, the purpose of this year’s theme was to allow each member to be their own character, and centering the concert around classic fairy tales was a “great way to accomplish that goal,” Proof member Mikayla Rudolph ’19 said.
According to Baker’s Dozen business manager Adam Burton ’18, the Baker’s Dozen has titled their event “JAMS,” pronounced ja-hms, which serves as a play on the 1975 film “Jaws.”
“We decided unanimously on the theme after hours of brainstorming and deliberation as we always do,” Burton said.
Groups like Mixed Company diverged from the jam tradition in more ways the one. Per tradition, Mixed Company puts on the first jam of the year and calls it “Snow Job” every year, since it is always held in the winter instead of the spring.
Mixed Company is also unique in its integration of alumni. Despite just 35 years’ worth of alumni, members of the group bring former members into their jam performances and comedy sketches, referred to by the group as “schticks.”
“We also sing our alumni song at the end, which was especially fun this year because we had 120 alums join us onstage in their bright-yellow bowling shirts to sing and shimmy to ‘Zombie Jamboree,’” Mixed Company member Mary Petzke ’18 said. “We also always have an alumni brunch the day after, which is a great way to connect with alums and hear them share stories about their time in the group.”
Mixed Company, Redhot and Blue, Proof and the Duke’s Men are some of the few groups that have already held their jam concerts, with the United Church on the Green and Battell Chapel serving as popular locations. The Yale Spizzwinks(?) will be holding their jam, titled “The Jammys,” this Friday while the Baker’s Dozen will be holding their event the day after.