We were fortunate to be able to be there this afternoon for the first jam session with Jensen Ackles and Jason Manns at the close of Creation’s Salute to Supernatural in LA – and wow, what an amazing hour and a quarter that was! Fans crowded into three rows of chairs in a small room, which initially generated some complaints of not being able to see, but soon settled into more or less omg, this is amazing (and those of us in the back row finally figured out we could just stand up and see just fine).
Jensen looked the part. Wearing a skullcap, whiskey in hand, he told us he’d gotten requests to play for a long time and had finally decided to try it out. The idea was to play an informal little jam for just a small group of fans, laid back and not stressful. Of course that changed when the price tag for the jam skyrocketed as fans bid for the unprecedented opportunity. Jason laughed that Jensen’s an old pro at conventions – but this time he was the one getting freaked out and nervous. Jensen called Jason as he watched the bids go up.
Jensen: “We might have to play this show naked!”
Fans: “Yes please!”
More seriously, Jensen said how blown away he was by the fans’ enthusiasm for seeing and hearing him do something that he doesn’t do for a living, and expressed his appreciation.
Then the music began, and it was the fans who were appreciative. Jensen started off with a favorite song, “Rock n Roll Radio” by Ray LaMontagne. Not exactly an easy song to sing either – we definitely respect the boy’s guts. His nerves showed for this song, but the small crowd was encouraging, expressing their gratitude that he was willing to try something a little outside his comfort zone just because the fans have been requesting it.
Jensen (laughing and blushing a little) “….I’m nervous….”
Fans: “Keep going!”
The crowd did wonder how he psyches himself up to do these things – a stage play, directing, etc.
Jensen: “I do tend to throw myself out there – you know, let’s go streaking or whatever!”
Fans: “Can we take pictures?”
Okay, back to the music.
Jensen: “Let’s get the medley out of the way.”
He meant because he was nervous, but fans were happy to hear the familiar chords of “Crazy Love”, followed by “The Weight”. Halfway through, Jensen’s nerves calmed down and his amazing harmony with Jason kicked up a notch. Somehow Lynn managed not to sing along, which would most likely not have been welcomed by the rest of the fans. But it was a near thing.
While Jensen calmed down, Jason got uncharacteristically jittery as they took turns forgetting a few verses.
Jason: “I have no idea why I’m nervous – I play for thousands of people and I’m fine, but I’m sitting here with him playing for just a few of you, and I’m nervous.”
Jensen (rolling his eyes in rather appealing self deprecation): “That’s because the anxiety is coming off me in waves!”
Jason then asked Jensen what was the first song he learned how to play on the guitar. Jensen grew up watching his dad pick up his guitar and riff, and remembers always being so taken by it. When he moved out to LA at eighteen, his dad handed him his guitar, which Jensen still has.
He then played that first song, “If I Had a Million” by Tom Green. Before he started, Jensen said very softly that he felt very blessed in his life – and Jason added that when he first heard Jensen sing this song, he sure didn’t have anything close to a million. The quiet banter throughout the jam added to the feeling of intimacy, and was the perfect setting for the more heartfelt songs they chose to play. Fans were genuinely moved by the emotion Jason and Jensen put into their performance. At times, never mind that there were thirty odd people in the room, it really did feel like the two were just jamming in Jensen’s living room.
The next song was “She Talks to Angels” by the Black Crows, which I think is the one that got all of us in the back row up on our feet and rocking out a bit. Both J’s were into it, fingers flying on their guitars, and nobody minded if there were a few missed lyrics. In fact, one of the treats of a live show is that it’s *live*, and you get to laugh along with the performer whenever there’s a flub. It’s endearing, a moment of bonding that unites the audience and the performer, makes the music a shared journey.
Jason at one point apologized for the ‘flubs’, to which the audience responded ‘we love the flubs!’
Jensen (a bit skeptical) “Well that’s good – there’s much flub to be had!”
The guys then sang a soft and sensual version of ‘Hallelujah’, one of our favorite Jason covers, made even more beautiful with Jason’s gorgeous voice and Jensen’s harmonies. You could have heard a pin drop in the room, and more than one fan may have sniffled. We’re not naming names though. *looks shifty*
A rowdy fanboy in the back (Clay….Clint…..oh wait, maybe it was Clif….) added bit of heckling to the mix to stir things up and provide some of the usual ambience of Jason’s shows that we’ve been to.
Clif: “Lynyrd Skynyrd!!!”
Jensen immediately launched into an awesome rendition of Sweet Home Alabama, one of our favorites. The guys definitely did it justice, and it was great to have them feel comfortable enough to play something impromptu.
Jason was content to put Jensen in the spotlight for a while, but Jensen turned the tables mid-show, turning the focus on his friend.
Jensen: “In my relationship life with Jason….”
Jason (raised eyebrows): “You mean our friendship?”
Jensen: “That kinda went down a totally different road….”
Jensen shared the story we’d heard from Jason of how their friendship started, with Jensen hearing Jason sing “Crazy Love” and being so impressed he wanted to learn it. And the rest is friendship history.
Jensen asked what Jason songs we’d like to hear. “Your Song” was one of the top requests, and while Jason sang, Jensen grabbed the bongos and played along. He sang a little harmony too, though he confided afterward that he really hadn’t mastered drumming and singing at the same time, looking a bit chagrined at the admission. Jason reminded him that when he started out, he couldn’t sing and play guitar at the same time either – and boy, can he now!
The next song was another Ray LaMontagne song, “God Willin’ and the Creek Don’t Rise” – it’s sad, haunting, full of longing, and Jensen’s voice carried all the emotion eloquently. After, he confided that some of the lyrics seemed to perfectly evoke his loneliness sometimes, alone in his trailer in the Vancouver rain, as he sang “the rain’s about to drive us all insane.” One of the things that makes music so moving and so personal is that it does pull for those feelings, whether you’re listening or playing, and the moment of shared vulnerability made the performance quietly powerful.
At some point in here there was some knocking on wood for good luck.
Jensen: (jumps up to knock on wood paneled wall)
Jason: “That’s not wood.” (Merely raps his knuckles on his very much wooden guitar.)
Jensen: “Oh. That’s too easy.”
Then there was “Free Fallin'”, with Jensen saying he wasn’t gonna “go high” but then going there anyway. Afterward, they asked how much more time they had. Creation’s Adam Malin was in the back enjoying the show, and was happy to let them just keep on playing.
Clif: “No!! One more song, guys.”
The one more song was “Walk Away”, a Ben Harper song that was the second one Jason taught Jensen, and the heartfelt lyrics were a perfect ending to a thoroughly enjoyable show.
As fans shouted their appreciation, Jason put down his guitar and expressed his right back.
Jason: “You guys are amazing. Seriously the most awesome fans ever. EVER.”
Jensen: “You guys really are – both collectively and individually. We so appreciate being a part of this, a part of you.”
We let Jason know later that night how much we and the room full of fans had enjoyed it, and Jason sent back a message from both him and Jensen.
Jason: “We were both sincerely moved by the reaction in the room. These are some amazing fans, and I was honored to be a part of that night.
So were we.
More coming up soon about the L.A con!!