Diary Friday: “OK, it wasn’t just a normal assembly. It was a CONCERT from a rock group – Freedom Jam.”

This is a repeat Diary Friday. There is also an update, which I attached to the end of the entry.

Every so often I come across an entry that is too good not to share … but is so embarrassing (even more so than usual) that I hesitate. HOWEVER. The description of the time the “rock group” Freedom Jam came to my school is too good not to share. I remember telling Mitchell about it once, and I was babbling on and on, and he was totally into it, but at one point he did manage to interject, “Stop saying Freedom Jam.”

I try. But I can’t.

My entry describing the Freedom Jam rock concert is so mortifying that even I, with my love of self-exposure, find it nearly unbearable to read. I’m in my sophomore year of high school.

But here we go.

I give to you:



[written across the top of this page are the words FREEDOM JAM in massive massive letters]

LORD WHAT A DAY! NO FRENCH TEST CAUSE OF AN ASSEMBLY. WAIT TILL YOU HEAR ABOUT THE ASSEMBLY! [This is like a wartime telegraph. Lord what a day Stop. No French test Stop …]

OK, it wasn’t just a normal assembly. It was a CONCERT from a rock group – Freedom Jam. [Even my language there shows that I have no idea what I’m talking about. “a concert FROM a rock group”? What?]

Oh God!

I was in study first period, and I heard them rehearsing. I mean, they were REAL ROCK. [I am so sorry. I just … I have nothing to say …] I ran in there and got a good seat. The whole place filled up and kids had to sit on the floor. The whole set-up was all these speakers and microphones and synthesizers and a big yellow drum set up high. Then Josh L. came out and everybody screamed. This boy is a senior with the most incredible face, an even more incredible body, and he wears plaid pants. He’s a freak. He’s not conceited though. In fact, he is a National Merit scholar. [HAHAHAHA. None of those sentences go together.] He just stood there – adorably – waiting for us to finish, and he made a speech about the band and ended by yelling, “HERE’S FREEDOM JAM!” [This is so damn hysterical. It’s like U2 came to our school or something.] The whole place screeched and I felt shivers as the guys ran out and immediately began to play. It was fabulous!! Smashing drums and guitars … and the keyboards player. Oh my Lord. I’ll tell you about him later. [Oh God. Please don’t.]

They were excellent. All of them were about college age. There was a black lead singer, two white guitarists, a drummer [and here I wrote a little heart. Yes. A small heart.] and a piano player [another heart, this one much bigger.] All were good-looking and they sounded like a real rock group! [Holy crap. How awful!!! Why didn’t I say “band”? Why did I say “group”? It’s so geeky!!!]

They played some Ozzy and they played Loverboy [bwahahahahaha] and Men at Work. Piano player did harmony. I loved how he played. The lead guy wore olive drab, one guitarist had frizzy hair and woire this black suit with a holster [excuse me? A holster?], the other wore this red, white and blue soldier suit, the drummer wore a sailor middy [I am laughing out loud at all of this – THE DRUMMER WORE A SAILOR MIDDY? WTF? Is he Little Orphan Annie???] and the keyboard — oh my heart. He was really small and lithe, and he had blonde hair and the most CUTE face. He was so small! And he wore a red, white and blue striped vest, white shirt, a red, white and blue garter on one arm [oh God, member that look??], black bow tie, black pants, and Darryl Hall sneakers. [The outfits are killing me.] I swear, I couldn’t take my eyes off of him.

After they sang, they talked and stuff, and did some skits [Oh man.] pertaining to music throughout America’s history. They started off in 1776 and turned all of these patriotic tunes into rock songs. They were hilarious. Then, they went through the Civil War, WWI, the 20s, the 30s, 40s, 50s … the lead guy did Elvis. Oh God! [OH GOD INDEED.] He had on this white glittery suit with spangles and a belt with a HUGE belt buckle, and this guitar with Elvis all over it, and he did the most hysterical things with his hips and eyes. [I am shaking with laughter. “So do you like that guy?” “Ah, whatever. He’s all hips and eyes.” That’s quite an accurate depiction of Elvis’ power over women: He used his hips and eyes.] And he pointed to Heidi in the audience and made her stand up (she was so red) and point at him (she was laughing so hard) and he started to sing, “You Ain’t Nothin’ But a Hound Dog!” and she dropped right back in her seat! The 60s – “She Loves You Yeah Yeah Yeah” – I particular remember that the keyboards (Tom Caffey) was very cute in this. Oh, and when they got up to present, the drummer, who was also gorgeous, sang “Even the Nights Are Better” [Oh man – that song!!] and he took Heather C. out of the audience and up onto the stage with him and she was in hysterics as he was singing this romantic song to her, and he fell on his knee before her and (her face was red) she sat on his knee and he gave her a sweet kiss on the cheek. [You probably couldn’t get away with that now. I do think the “ain’t nothin’ but a hound dog” thing is kinda mean, though. Come to think of it. If they had picked me to stand up – and I felt so ugly and fat ANYWAY – and to be called out like that? It would have been awful. I don’t think I would have sued the school, though. Okay. Onward.]

They were such great musicians and I can tell that they really care about each other. [Omigod.] AND- drumroll – during one of the songs, this is honestly true, I swear to the Lord, I was sitting there, chin in my hands, just watching Tom Caffey – Just watching him. And I guess he felt my eyes on him [Uhm … he was on stage … he had 800 pairs of eyes on him … I almost wanted to cut this next part out, because it’s just too awful – but here we go.] so he looked over at me, and THEN – he leaned on his elbows, put his chin in his hands, and stared back at me. Imitating me. [Oh wow. I remember that now. I FLIPPED OUT. He had called me out, personally. Thrilling!!] This is the honest-to-goodness truth. I tell you, I died! I went crazy!

After that, I was even more in love, and he kept looking over at me, as he was pounding away on the keys, and smiling at me. I was really brave once, and waved.

And at the end, they each talked to us and he finished with this touching speech about freedom. These guys are no space-outs. No way. [Did you walk into the assembly assuming they would be space-outs? I’m confused.] He talked about feeling proud of America – not just in times of crisis, like with the Iranian hostages – but always. But he talked about how when the crisis is over – like with Iran – the feeling of togetherness goes away, the spirit goes away. He also talked about name-calling. He said, “It strips away people’s freedom. Names like ‘N-word, honkie, spic …’ ” [Wow. Again.] Some kids in the back started laughing when he said those words, and he went, “Yeah, you may laugh now, but it’s not funny. Not really.” Mr. Hodge said to me later that teachers and parents can’t make speeches like that to us because we know them so well. We just roll our eyes. But a rock group can and does make more of an impression. Not only were those guys talented, funny and gorgeous – they also really stand for something special and sacred. I love every one of them. They deserve to become stars.

And tomorrow night they’re giving a REAL ROCK CONCERT and I am going! They said they could come down and meet us and I really want to meet Tom Caffey. What a day!

WHAT A DAY! After that, I could not think about anything else.


I went to the concert. I’m crying. How can I put it into words?

I brought my camera, my tape recorder. [hahahahaha] And, after – Tom Caffey signed my dollar and shook my hand. He was standing up on a chair, and I went over and said, “Can you sign my dollar?” [After his patriotic speech, you ask him to deface our nation’s currency??] He grinned at me, took it, and said seriously, “Yes. I will sign your dollar.” Then he gave it back to me and I, in a fit of bravery, “Oh, could you shake my hand?” And oh Diary, he took my hand and squeezed it.

Oh Lord, it HURTS! MY HEART. I shouldn’t do this to myself.

I got some great pictures – we sat down, and suddenly all the lights went out, it was pitch-black and when the lights flashed on, THERE THEY ALL WERE AT THEIR INSTRUMENTS! We all were screaming so loud! The music was louder. I’m practically deaf now. My ears are still ringing.

I got a great picture of Tom at his keyboards. [Oh yeah, we’re on a first name basis now] Let’s see. He had on a blue and white striped tight T shirt, blue handkerchiefs around his wrists [hahahahaha], tight black leather pants, white leg warmers and Darryl Hall sneakers. [That is absolutely hilarious. Leg warmers]

And Rick, the lead guy, made a speech and he said, “Y’know, people think that it’s cool to have drugs, drink, whatever. But we want to let you know that the show you just saw, and yesterday morning’s show, has been totally done without the use of alcohol or drugs. You don’t need to do all that to have a great time.” We all just screamed so loud! (Well. Except for a few spacey dorks.) [There’s always a few “spacey dorks” who ruin it for the rest of us.]

Diary, I honestly don’t know how to say what is going on inside me. I want to laugh, sing, make out with someone, scream, dance, but most of all cry. I get so emotionally worked up. They all just seemed so nice … as guys, as a group, as people …

They said they would come back to SK and I swear – no matter where I am – I’m gonna come back to see them. [I can see it now … I’m walking along the Great Wall of China when my cell phone rings. I answer. “Sheila … just wanted to let you know … Freedom Jam will be playing tomorrow at SK …” I immediately leap off the Great Wall and run to the nearest airport to get myself home.]

I can’t even write what I’m feeling now. It has something to do with boys. And wanting a boy in my life. I have each image of the last two days etched in my brain forever!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

UPDATE, December 7, 2007:

Last year, I checked my email and saw the name “Tom Caffey” in my Inbox. It sounded vaguely familiar. Do I know him? Who is it? Opened it up … to find a beautiful email of thanks from TOM CAFFEY OF FREEDOM JAM, 24 years after the fact. His sister Charlotte Caffey (yeah, THAT Charlotte Caffey) had somehow come across my post. Maybe she had Googled her brother’s name or something, read my old Diary Friday (the thought of a Go-Go reading my blog is honestly just too much for me to deal with) and passed it on to her brother. And so Tom Caffey emailed me, and we corresponded for a bit. He was absolutely lovely. He said he found it strangely emotional to read my Diary Friday – even though it was funny as well. You know, he was a young musician at the time and still works as a musician (and he’s still friends with his fellow group members – so teenager Sheila was RIGHT in her observation that these guys really “cared about each other”) – and he said it was nice to know that what they did was so appreciated (even though it’s insane, the way I wrote about them.) We also laughed about their outfits. He said that they would go shopping at Merry Go Round (member that store?) and buy the craziest shit they could think of. “Yeah, a sailor middy – that’ll be great!” I seriously reverted to my high school age when I saw he had emailed me. The keyboardist from Freedom Jam emailed me! Nearly a quarter of a CENTURY after the show they did, once upon a time, in the gym at my high school.

The Internet is pretty damn cool.

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42 Responses to Diary Friday: “OK, it wasn’t just a normal assembly. It was a CONCERT from a rock group – Freedom Jam.”

  1. Pingback: Links: QE and non-QE « Rhymes With Cars & Girls

  2. Mitchell Fain says:


  3. sheila says:

    Mitchell – I know. I was so judgey.

  4. Laurie Ritt says:

    Oh, Sheila…this is so much like reading my own junior high diary I’m actually blushing.

  5. Barbara Wenderoth says:

    LOVED this. It’s sad how as adults having this kind of fervor over something seems silly and foolish. But you brought me right back to it. Awesome…

    • sheila says:

      Barbara – Ha! Thank you!!

      I am an adult and yet I still get this silly and foolish and I am not ashamed of it! My sister and I screamed like Tweens when we saw Eminem step out onto the stage, and we sang along to all of his lyrics, and we were not alone. We were surrounded by frenzied adults doing the same thing.

      It’s slightly transcendent, that kind of collective enthusiasm.

      Thank you so much for reading my silly high school diary entries. I appreciate it!

  6. sherry says:

    I totally remember freedom jam in Jr high

    • Mary says:

      I’m sorry to bother everyone. I actually don’t know how I got on this site. I’m looking for a guy named John Thomas. He was a drummer in a band called “FreeFare.” Around 1989 in North Augusta SC. Any suggestions?

  7. Ranee says:

    I loved this, yes I was one of those excited girls in the auditorium…..but I was the poor girl pulled up on stage he asked my fav singer and song so I told him Elvis ( ain’t nothing but a hound dog)…….he sang it to me in front of everyone; hound dog what was I thinking the teasing I endured for years afterward and I do not remember any costumes just good music……thank you for helping relive memories.

  8. I remember Freedom Jam coming to my Junior High / Middle School: McKnight in Renton, Washington.

    They were my 1st rock concert.

    Thank you for posting this. It’s love to find a website or wikipedia page devoted to them & what THEIR experience was.

  9. Chris Moore says:

    1983-84 Carmel Junior High in Charlotte NC.
    I have no idea what made me think of Freedom Jam.
    I didn’t even know at the time that they toured nationwide. I assumed
    They were a local gig…..

  10. Julie Englund says:

    I remember the group too!!! Some one on Facebook recently brought up this topic and it took me back to Jr High in 1977-1978, in Belvidere, IL. As most of the girls did back then, I ‘fell in love’ with one of them (although I don’t even remember his name now) and I had a poster of them in my room which I would kiss. I also remember being in typing class when over the radio played the song, ‘Dust in the Wind’ which they performed at our assembly, and I remember I stopped typing and put my head down with tears in my eyes thinking I would never see them again. Oh how silly it seems now.

  11. BT says:

    Holy crap – I totally remember this from Junior High in 1984 at Davey Jr. High in Kent, OH (33 years ago!). I remember getting pulled out of math class for what was supposed to be a normal boring assembly, then…. this! We had no idea what we were in for. We walked into our school auditorium with no mention of what we would be seeing. Curtains were drawn and the band must had warmed up before school started – because nobody knew about it before hand. As we were rocking the morning away, I remember questioning if the old school was going to fall down. Always wondered what happened to these guys… and how/why our school administrators got this to go down. One of my best school day memories ever!

  12. Jonny V says:

    I was in Freedom Jam, 1978-9. This sounds just like one of our shows except we weren’t playing loverboy. We play blue Monday by foreigner, people of the south wind by Kansas , renegade by Styx. Train in vain by the Clash, this was before punk rock broke out big time so that was an odd song to play .

    I was just browsing trying to find out if there were any posts like this I’m glad someone remembers us. the company, young American showcase, is no longer around . The concept of our free assembly show like this that pays for itself with concerts is not something that would work today . We actually fed ourselves and our company by doing this, for a whole year. 550 shows in one year sometimes for a day sometimes 300 miles apart . It’s a time that will never come again

  13. Ty D says:

    Freedom Jam! Your performance changed my life as a 6th or 7th grader in Philomath Middle School (Oregon) in 1983 or 1984…have to honestly claim this as my first rock show — first of several hundreds. So great. I remember the positive messages combined with huge guitars, drums, bass, etc…our whole student body was freaking out.

    Today I’m in a couple bands for fun and in fact am angling to create a similar positive rockin’ one-off show at my kids’ primary school. Thank you! Music saves lives.

  14. Stacy says:

    I’m going through my “stuff” found a diary and Freedom Jam played at John Marshall Middle School on March 7, 1978. I was one of the lucky girls picked out of the audience by the drummer, Paul Turner. He sang “How Deep is Your Love” to me. He had me sit on his knee then kissed my hand. Boy how times have changed since the late 70’s!! I even wrote his last name with my first name. Schoolgirl stuff ??‍♀️.

    • Oh, Stacy! I’m the lucky girl that got to marry that Paul Turner 38 years ago, and change my last name to his! He is just as genuine and adorable as he was then, with that great big smile! And, he’s still rockin’ and still loves the Lord of course! There’s more information about this national phenomenon, just Google “Young American Showcase,” “Lowell Lytle,” “Freedom Jam” or “Free Fare,” also “Diving into the Deep,” a book by Mr. Lytle that tells how and why it all came about and is very inspiring. I know, what a memory these bands created for tens of thousands of students over many years, in every state and a few other countries. Thanks Sheila and all, what a post!

  15. ronnie sweeney says:

    they came to my school as well in 1979.
    francis c. Hammond high in alexandria, va.
    I went to the assembly and to the nighttime concert as well.
    ahh the bad old daze.

  16. Nick says:

    Wow….what fun this was to come across. The band also played our High School in 1985 maybe? Freedom Jam. I was aspiring to be a “Rock Star” and they made a huge difference in my life at the time. I even had the bass player stay at our house a few day after their tour was done. I was musically infatuated with the guitar player, Danny. I even had his number (he gave it to me), called a few times. I think he was “over it” after awhile. Poor guy. I went as far as recording and going through the audition process at one point. I never had the guts to send it in. So cool to find out how many people they touched. I think of them often believe it or not. I was so impressed the musicianship and show. Even volunteered to be a “roadie” for our evening concert. Just amazing times. Thanks for sharing this! Wish I could remember Danny’s last name…love to tell him how far I got and what an impression he made. Oh, I almost forgot….Peavey was the choice instruments for the whole band (must have been a deal with Peavey/YAS), I got to buy one that Danny used on that tour. I still love Peavey equipment to this day.

    • sheila says:

      I love these memories – so thanks for sharing. I too love to see how many people remember them, and with such affection.

      • Pam says:

        Oh my gosh! This is too hysterical! I just found my Jr high dairies and had several entries about Freedom Jam and how sexy, foxy they were and how they looked at me and I was on cloud 9 for weeks! LOL Though the names of the band members I wrote down were different – wonder if they changed up? I wrote down the names Dave Fiozaro that I was in LOVE with and Chuck and Tyrone. This was Feb 24, 1982 in Miami Springs, FL. :) Had no clue they went around to other places and honestly don’t remember this other than the diary entries. Awesome stuff!

  17. James Nicely says:

    I remember seeing them school. It was 1981 in Brownsburg, Indiana. They performed during the day at school, and then had a paid concert in the evening.
    Thanks for sharing everyone.

  18. Curtis f says:

    My father in law was in that band for many years. Just saw this post. I know it’s an old post but that it was pretty cool.

  19. Eric says:

    I saw them right as they changed their name from Free Fare to Freedom Jam… they had posters with both names, including a poster drawn by Mad Magazines’ cartoonist Don as Martin. May have inspired my successful full time cover band in the late 80s. I was thoroughly impressed in middle sxhool school.

  20. Anthony Marchese says:

    I was awake at 4 a.m. last night (as is typical) and thinking of – what else? – but the time that Freedom Jam rolled into town my freshman year of high school (Mount Olive High School, Flanders, NJ; 1981/1982). The entire school got ushered into an assembly and got treated to the most bizarre experience of a hipster 80’s cover band, dressed in colonial outfits and doing skits about U.S. history. At the end of the assembly the lead singer said, “come see us tonight and we will be wearing our real rock clothes”. As crazy as it sounds, we all went home and asked our parents for the $5 cash and a ride back to high school that night. In retrospect, Freedom Jam was not a bad business model for the pre-MTV days (go to small town U.S.A, convince the HS principal to do the assembly, and walk away with $2000 cash per night). I vividly remember two songs from their set list – and I remember that they provided teasers of these songs in the assembly and then the full versions in the evening concert: Loverboy’s “Working for the Weekend”, which we all thought was a lame song, but they provided a serviceable rendition. And, Kool and the Gang’s “Get Down On It”, which I personally thought was a good song and they played it well, although I am sure I did not share those thoughts with my peers. Three years later, as seniors, we would literally play that same stage at the high school talent show, not realizing that our cover band was every bit as silly as Freedom Jam, although our song choices still hold up pretty well in my humble opinion (Springsteen, The Police, Elvis Costello).

  21. Denise Marie Hagadorn says:

    My name is Denise I remember Freedom Jam from 1977 at Cohoes High School in New York the drummer was Bob Joyce I love the band it was so great we followed them everywhere such a great drummer please reply back

  22. Clark Howell says:

    Hi Shiela (et al)
    I loved reading thru your description of the concert…I can relate, but on a different level.

    I played keyboards for them when we toured the school year (Aug 1984-May 1985). Could I ask what year they came to your school??

    The band that you described is actually one of eight that a corporation called Young American Showcase put out, to do assemblies and shows for schools – middle thru high school. I think the organization shut down about 20 years ago. Four of the groups were called Freedom Jam and the other four were called FreeFare. Our group (one of the FreeFare groups) started in Buffalo NY, wrapped up at Christmas in Montreal (freezing!!) then continued with a few weeks in Wilmington NC before we headed back up to NY, and again finished up in Montreal at the end of the school year. Did about 450 shows in 9 months… Happy to give you more details, but I don’t want to bore you.

    I’m really, really glad to hear that it was such a great experience for you. We all sincerely meant well, and I will say it was an absolutely unique experience for me (driving a van that was literally rusting apart, living out of dive hotels and trying to stay fed on $75/week).

    I wish you well … hope life is treating you great (especially during this 2020 nonsense)

    • sheila says:

      Clark – hello! This thread is the gift that keeps on giving! I love how people show up here to share their memories and experiences! You must have so many amazing stories from this experience!!

      now let me think – I think this was 1984. Maybe 1983.

      • Justme says:

        Hi, just found this post. What sweet memories I have of being one of the girls to be pulled out of the audience during a song. They came to my school in early 1983 in South Amboy, NJ. Every time I hear “Africa” by Toto I’m brought immediately back to being 17 and serenaded by the adorable lead singer. Even wrote a poem about him at that time. he gave me a soft kiss before letting me go. Coincidentally a few days later their truck or van broke down and my mother’s company had to help them with transportation in Kearny, NJ. My mom recognized them from the poster I had in my room and he recognized me from the picture she had of me on her desk.

        Not sure which performers came to my town. I hope they all did well in life. To this day that song from Toto warms my heart.

    • Lynn says:

      I love this thread! I recently found some photos I took of FreeFare in November 1984, when they performed in a very small town in NC. I took them when the band played a concert at night (performed a free concert during the school day). I used to have a poster signed by all the guys but am not sure what happened to it. Without it I can’t remember everyone’s names but I believe the drummer was Derrick (not sure of the spelling). Maybe there was a George too? I have been searching online over the last week, trying to find out anything about the 1984 band but could not find a lot of info.

    • Don Bartosik says:

      I saw you in Wilmington, NC! My first real concert! I was probably 14 or 15 at the time. This was probably at John T Hoggard high school. It was a really great show!! I think my older brother saw you at the assembly and then I went with him for the evening show! Awesome memory to relive!

    • Lynn says:

      After I posted on April 2nd, I spent the next couple of hours searching and finally found more information. I saw the 1984 Free Fare band with members Elijah Calloway, Chris Lundquist, George Roybal, Brian Smith, Storm Williams and Derek Wiseman. Elijah is no longer with us. No one seems to know where Brian is. No information about George or Storm that I could find. Chris and Derek have some social media presence. My heart is happy now.

  23. Debbie Cooley says:

    This brought back such memories! They came to our high school in 1983 – LaBelle High School during the day. A group of friends then drove that evening to see them at a neighboring school. I was able to meet Tom after that show and we exchanged letters for a few months afterwards. I loved reading your “diary” and shared your joy!

  24. Jane says:

    What memories! I can’t remember which year Freedom Jam came to the school – I want to say it was 82 at the middle school (northwest Florida), but then later in spring 84 we were at Six Flags over Georgia in Atlanta on a band trip and they were performing there. We were so excited that we had seen a really famous band “first” – they had to be famous if they were playing at Six Flags! I mostly just remember them playing Separate Ways by Journey. Love seeing this history of all the touring groups and the experiences of the members who were all just basically slightly older kids themselves!

  25. This post is just amazing. I remember them playing my elementary school in the early 80s. I was obsessed with music then and have been a musician all my life (well, since I was 9). I loved reading these hilarious memories. Thank you!

  26. I remember Freedom Kam from my Jr. High School in Anoka, MN (Halloween Capitol of the World) in
    March 1982. A couple of days after Ozzy guitarist Randy Rhoads died. They dedicated Crazy Train to him. I remember the no drunks/drinking and some God talk. It was my first rock concert. I went to the next nights show as well. Got their autographs on a poster. I think it was $3 admission. I also stood in the hall and gave them a high 5 as they ran by. I’m a professional bassist today (40 years in music). I was a music fan back then. It’s all been my life therapy to get through tough times.

    I went to my first REAL concert (Survivor) Sept 82. Got to hang out with the drummer and keyboard player from that band. It reminded me of Freedom Jam earlier in the year.

    Thanks for sharing your memories. That was awesome! It brought me back.

  27. Johnee says:

    Jam not Kam. Thank you spellcheck for making me look like I speak typo. 😂

  28. Tracy says:

    Was this the same as Free Fare? They came to our school on Livonia, NY in 1984. That same week my friends and I went to a Sammy Hagar concert in Rochester and the band was there to see the concert too. My brother is handicap so they picked him up and carried him to the front of the line and got us right up front. It was the sound guy that I had the hots for lol.

    • Randolph Merritt says:

      Yes, we were the same company sponsored band, just a different name. There were usually 4 bands named Freedom Jam and 4 bands named Free Fare during the school year terms. Although, every year saw many new individuals joining the groups, there were also some veterans that were carried over from year to year and in various other capacities such as managers and such.

  29. David Campbell says:

    This is a great thread. Thank you for posting. I was googling to see if I could find any info and here it is! Freedom Jam came to my school, Stratford High School in Stratford, CT my sophomore year 1983. Same experience, educational assembly during the day and then a rock concert at night. Great memory. Funny, the reason I remember what year it was is because one of the songs they covered was Heat of the Moment by Asia. When it came the the line “and now you find yourself in ‘82” they substituted “83” and for whatever reason we all thought that was the coolest thing and the place went nuts!

  30. Rodd Wilson says:

    Amazing this thread still lives! It’s fun to hear all of your memories…I too was a guitar player in a Freedom Jam band in the ’81-’82 school year. Young American Showcase was the company that produced this amazing experiment music/professionalism/positive messages. It started in 1969 and closed up around 1993-94. This extremely effective concept of providing a different road map to counter the sex and drugs mentality that was so prevalent in our country was quite revolutionary.
    There is a book that has recently been published that can be purchased on Amazon titled, “God’s Rock and Roll Army” that tells the story of of this great musical experiment as told through its performers, office girls, managers and staff. It has a lot of pictures and posters of those bands through the years. It has even been rumored that Netflix was toying with the idea of a documentary to tell its story. The back cover of this book has this synopsis on it:
    “I will never forget that day!” The true story of Young American Showcase, a radical experiment in evangelism, as told by those who lived it. Between 1968 and 1991, over 10 million teenage students across the United States and Canada had a shared experience: one day they were called from class to their gymnasium, where they cheered their way through a rock and roll show the likes of which most had never seen. Students saw young men with rock star personas, iconic clothes, and wild hair, whose musical talent was only exceeded by their extreme showmanship. In fact, you may still have a Free Fare, Edge, or Freedom Jam poster rolled up in your closet. Thousands of students each month came back for an evening show, and it was there, in the final few minutes of the night, that the illusion of “sex, drugs, and rock and roll” so prevalent in that era was broken. Then, as hard-core rockers testified about their life in Jesus, roughly a million young lives across 23 years were changed. Along the way, something else happened. Every year, dozens of young people joined in this radical experiment in evangelism. Within each one of them, a transformation occurred, and an indelible bond formed. This is the story of God’s Rock and Roll Army, the jaw-dropping and miraculous events they experienced, and the lessons they learned. From their accounts, you will find the key to building strong faith leaders, and you may find the courage for your own radical experiment in evangelism. What did you do with your ticket?

  31. Randolph Merritt says:

    Came across this thread as I was surfing the internet. I was a member of one of these bands between ’84-85. Our band was a sister band named Free Fare. The year I toured we had 4 Freedom Jams and 4 Free Fares and then later that summer, a Super Freedom Jam which toured in Australia. Good to see and read all the good comments as it was a pivotal time in my life to be a member of such a highly regarded organization.

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