Bluegrass Bus Museum


You are here

Marathon Jam at Chapel Hill – Feb 28

Printer-friendly versionPrinter-friendly version

Marathon Jam at Chapel HillOnce again we welcome Marathon Jam at Chapel Hill founder John Santa and his fellow Marathon Jammers as they play music for 12 straight hours to raise money to support the families of injured soldiers at the American Legion. This annual event just keeps getting bigger, better and more support. Last year's Chapel Hill 2014 Marathon Jam raised $18,000 for the Ft Bragg Fisher House.

John Santa reports, “Every single tax deductible penny we receive will stay here in North Carolina, as it has every year! Our total for six years is over $70,000 given to the Ft Bragg Fisher House and Marathon Jams nation wide will raise over $250,000 for Fisher Houses across the country in 2015! We are delighted to have had Marathon Jams in eighteen cities across the United States and in four countries–the USA, Iraq, Afghanistan and Africa! This year we will be adding our fifth country when a Marathon Jam will be held for the first time in Viet Nam!”

The Marathon Jam is once again proud to partner with Quilts Of Valor, so come and celebrate as we make some great acoustic music and raise money and watch as we wrap our brave veterans in red, while and blue quilts!” If you can’t make it, or just want to inspire us, you can contribute right now by going to!

You can share in the excitement by sponsoring a musician, or, if you have something we can read about a friend or loved one who served in the military, we can do that too. John said, “Or better yet, come and read it yourself to all of us!” Whether you’re a musician or just love music played from the heart for a wonderful cause, please plan to join us.

The mission of the Marathon Jam is to gather people and players from all walks of life and across the globe together for a day of public service. In recent years, the focus of the Marathon Jam has been to give tangible support to our service members and their families as they recover from injuries sustained in the line of duty by raising money for the Fisher House Foundation.

However, if there is not a Fisher house in your state, or you feel the need to help folks closer to home, that is great! Set up a Marathon Jam in your hometown and play for the food bank, the homeless shelter, a local church or school program, the Wounded Warrior Project, or anything you want! The idea is musicians all across the country to gather for one day with one purpose: To give back to the community.

More than 20 years ago, a small group of musicians, led by John Santa, began to meet once a month at someone's house to play music. Most of these players were studio musicians that had worked together on various albums for other artists and decided it would be good to get together socially and not just for work. Thus was born the RDU Session Players.

Over time, the group expanded to include more than 150 people, now including non-professional musicians and even civilians (people who can't play or sing). Any given month would see 20 to 40 people at the monthly gathering, and spectators became more and more common. As the catalog of songs grew so large, someone once commented that they believed we could play for 12 hours straight and not repeat a single song. From that simple thought, the first Marathon Jam was born in 2004.

That first Marathon Jam was held in one of Whit Kenney's vacant offices, and several people earned the distinction of becoming "Iron Pickers" for playing the entire 12-hour Jam, beginning at noon and playing past midnight. John and Whit were talking on the phone as John was driving home, and John said that it was a shame that, in spite of the pain which comes from 12 straight hours of pressing guitar strings, no one got paid. Then, the idea of turning this wonderful time into a fundraiser was born.

The concept was simple. Treat the Marathon Jam like a walk-a-thon, only gather sponsors for hours played, not miles walked, and contribute the money to charities that were close to our hearts. The first year, the funds raised went to The Sheppard Wasdell Teacher Excellence Award, given annually to a teacher at Apex High School, and to The Community Music School, an organization which helps low-income children access both instruments and lessons.

The American Legion Chapel Hill Post 6 has graciously donated the use of their facilities to the Marathon Jam for seven years in a row and as if that is not miracle enough, they are the only location in Chapel Hill which has acres of FREE parking in the entire city!!
So come join in at:

American Legion Post 6
1714 Legion Rd
Chapel Hill, NC 27515

Theme by Danetsoft and Danang Probo Sayekti inspired by Maksimer