Immaculate Conception Church and School in Columbia Heights is putting on its annual Summer Jam festival Aug. 1-4, featuring seven tribute bands in the weekend’s lineup.
“This year is a real step forward on really emphasizing the music,” said Art Harris, Summer Jam event chair.
This year’s free event is a tribute fest, with bands such as The Crown Jewels (Queen), Rubber Soul (The Beatles) and SFO (Journey) playing throughout the weekend. Festivities are 5-10 p.m. Thursday, 5-10:30 p.m. Friday, 1-10:30 p.m. Saturday and 11 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Sunday at Immaculate Conception, 4030 Jackson St. NE. A different local radio DJ hosts each day.
While bringing in this many tribute bands is new for the church, one band has remained consistent for more than a decade: Rubber Soul, which covers music by The Beatles. It’s unique in having five members, compared the actual band’s four, with the fifth member playing keyboard and extra percussion.
Rubber Soul has been playing the festival, previously known as Fun Fest, for 13 years, according to Harris.
“It had an amazing impact on Saturday night of our event,” Harris said. “We drew over 1,200 people to the event (13 years ago) to see this tribute to The Beatles.”
Rubber Soul is still the festival’s biggest draw, Harris said.
Summer Jam began as a parish festival more than 60 years ago. More recently, the church wanted to reach out to the community, so it incorporated elements to appeal to a wider audience, such as adding Rubber Soul to the event line-up, Harris said.
“The overall goal is to reach out to the broader community and provide entertainment and to bring people on to our campus,” Harris said.
Immaculate Conception School Principal Jane Bona said Summer Jam gives residents of the surrounding communities a chance to explore the area.
“Anyone can come celebrate the beauty of summer by listening to really fun music,” Bona said. “I think when you come to something like that in the community you live in, it just builds that sense of pleasure that there’s a lot of things you can do right here.”
The festival is a chance to listen to local bands without the usual cover charge, Harris said.
Other festivities include bingo, a car show, a silent auction, food and a beer tent sponsored by Schell’s Brewery. Bingo starts at 5:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday, with a Neil Diamond impersonator hosting Friday and an Elvis impersonator hosting Saturday.
Bona said the festival has fun for all ages.
“Little kids can play games,” Bona said. “For someone who likes to shop, there’s a silent auction. There’s food for people who like to eat, and who doesn’t like that?”
The church sells its own food. On Sunday the church’s Latino community will serve Latin specialties, Bona said.
Last year’s event brought in about 3,500 people, and this year the church is hoping for about 4,500.