Big Mama Jamathon

Big Mama Jamathon at the Live House in Hollywood

The Big Mama Jamathon took place at Musician Institute's new “Live House” on Highland Ave in Hollywood September 28-30. Guitarist Steve Vai put together the amazing 52-hour event benefiting the non-profit Extraordinary Families. The event’s lineup included a variety of the top guitarists in the world including Lee Ritenour, Tosin Abasi (Animals as Leaders), Dave Navarro (Jane’s Addiction), Nuno Bettencourt (Extreme), Orianthi (Michael Jackson), Vernon Reid (Living Colour), Herman Li (Dragonforce) and Allen Hinds.

The show ran non-stop over the last weekend of September and was live-streamed beginning to end. A number of M.I. students had a very rare opportunity to come up and jam with Vai and his band. Over the weekend, Vai's band consisted of Phil Bynoe (Vai Band), Jeremy Colson (Vai Band), Alex DePue (Vai Band), Michael Arrom (Vai Band), Brooks Wackerman (Avenged Sevenfold), Chad Wackerman (Frank Zappa), Kenny Aronoff (John Fogerty), Dug Pinnick (King’s X), Bob Carpenter (Nitty Gritty Dirt Band), Justin Apergis (M.I. Faculty), Pete Griffin (Dweezil Zappa), Brett Tuggle (Fleetwood Mac) and Armand Sabal-Lecco (Al Di Meola).

The three-day setlist included songs from Vai, Jimi Hendrix, Frank Zappa, Pink Floyd, Cream, Jeff Beck and many more iconic artists. A big highlight over the event took place Friday night when Derek Smalls from the band formerly known as Spinal Tap played a half hour set with his band of guitarist Marc Bonilla (CTA), keyboardist CJ Vanston (Spinal Tap), drummer Toss Panos (Sting), and vocalist Keith England. It was truly the guitar event of the decade.

In addition to the event itself, an online auction is being held through October 14 to benefit Extraordinary Families. The auction features items signed by Slash, Buddy Guy, Vai, David Pack, Carlos Santana, Dream Theater, Def Leppard and more. There is also a Pledge Music store that includes digital downloads and vinyls of live recordings from the Jamathon as well as artwork by Vai, guitar picks,  socks, hats, and even an in-person lesson with Vai himself which includes an Ibanez Jem-7v guitar.

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