With their axes and their amps, they are coming to hammer away at homelessness in Lamoille County.
About 20 bands and solo acts will grace a pair of stages for an all-day music festival Sunday at Moog’s Place in Morrisville to raise money for Lamoille County Habitat for Humanity.
For a rock-bottom price — $15 in advance, $20 at the door — fans of folk, bluegrass, blues and psychedelia can dance from noon to midnight.
Now in its sixth year, Hammerjam was founded by Tom Moog, co-owner of Moog’s Place.
“I’ve always been a music guy, and I feel that what I do goes far beyond the walls of Moog’s Place,” he said. “It’s all about community, getting together and making something happen, and through my life, I’ve learned that that can be done with music.”
Hammerjam features 12 hours of nonstop music. In addition to the stage inside Moog’s Place, the parking lot is blocked off and a flatbed truck is set up to create a second stage. So, when music stops on one stage, it starts immediately on the other stage.
“The great thing about this event is you can come here as a family,” Moog said. “You can get something to eat. We’ll have barbecue and food from El Toro. You can get some ice cream. There will be a tie-dye workshop.”
And with a ticket, attendees are free to come and go as they please.
“You can come and stay all day, but what a lot of people do is they come early in the day and then they leave and kayak or walk the dog and then come back,” Moog said.
“This is an opportunity to talk about Habitat in our community, and we also use it as our single biggest fundraising event we have all year,” said Ashley Isabell, treasurer of Lamoille County Habitat for Humanity.
The first Hammerjam raised about $1,000, but as the event has grown, so has the amount of money being raised.
So, far Hammerjam has raised a total of more than $40,000 for Lamoille County Habitat for Humanity.
Founded in 2008 as an offshoot of Green Mountain Habitat for Humanity, the organization has built one house to date, located on Mayo Road in Morristown. Now, it’s raising money to complete a second house, located on Maple Street in the village. Morristown donated both parcels to the organization.
“It’s gotten bigger and bigger. We started out really small and it’s really grown,” said Dale Touchette, a Habitat board member. “We couldn’t do this without Tom and his venue. He’s been very marvelous, and the musicians, who donate their time, that’s just huge for us. This is a Sunday when they probably played the night before.”
Among the performers Sunday will be Abby Sherman, a mainstay on stages around Lamoille County and beyond.
“We’ve been hard at work this winter on a second album. We have a ton of fantastic musicians on it and hopefully it’ll be out in a month,” she said.
Sherman described her act as a “folky bluegrass trio,” but she’s putting something special together for Hammerjam.
“It’s going to be electric. We got keys. We got drums. We got electric guitar,” Sherman said. “To me, it’s more like a bluesy rock band. It’s just a completely different sound for me.”
Why does she donate her time and talent for the event?
“Housing for everyone is pretty important,” Sherman said. “As a single mom, I can completely relate to that, and I want to do good for our community. I think it’s really important for people to get out of the house and get of their phones and off of Facebook and actually get out and be a part of what’s happening.”
Also on the schedule is the John Lackard Blues Band. Lackard lives in Randolph but takes his gritty, authentic blues experience on the road, including in and around Lamoille County.
“The idea of Hammerjam, providing that service to the community is very important, and I feel I should support the cause because the area has been very good to me,” Lackard said. “Tom, he’s got ideas and he sees things through and he’s just lit up that community with his ideas and I want to be a part of that.”
Moog, in turn, gushed about Lackard and his band.
“If you want a true blues experience, you need to come and see these guys play live,” Moog said.
For a local face, look no further than Luke Auriemmo, who plays banjo in the Mud City Ramblers, a Johnson-based bluegrass group in its third decade of performing.
“It’s gonna be a lot of fun,” Auriemmo said. “There’s going to be moments of blinding brilliance, tear-jerking and total fun. This is one of those events that gives back to the community for a great cause. If you don’t support Moog’s and Hammerjam, we’ll lose this gem of what we have.”
Patrick Quimby plays guitar for Soulstice, a central Vermont band. He stopped short of calling his music reggae, preferring the term “island-inspired.”
“Last year, we were invited and just had the best time. It was really fun to see all the camaraderie among the musicians while raising money for a good cause,” Quimby said. “Housing is something that hits really close to home here. We all know people who are struggling and this is such a worthy cause.”
While some acts have a short drive, for others, it’s going to be a haul. Rising stars Dogs in a Pile will make the trip from Asbury Park, N.J., both to play Hammerjam and to headline Moog’s the night before. And they’ll be arriving with a full head of steam, having opened up for jamband titans the String Cheese Incident the night before.
“They play psychedelic improvisational music with a heavy jazz influence,” said Rich Moroski, booking agent for Dogs in a Pile. “I’ve heard them play a bunch of times and I’ve heard them play the same songs, but they don’t sound the same every time. They make my Deadhead heart just beam.”