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Jazzman's jams packs 'em in, no matter the instrument -- or the player
By Thomas Edwards | Daily Herald Staff

"Jazzman" Jeff Justman's "Acoustic Music Jam" is held every other Friday at the Lord of Glory Church in Grayslake.


Daily Herald photo by Thomas Edwards

Dozens of Lake County musicians gather every other Friday to be part of "Jazzman" Jeff Justman's "Acoustic Music Jam."


Daily Herald photo by Thomas Edwards

"Jazzman" Jeff Justman is a leader in Lake County's music community.


Daily Herald photo by Thomas Edwards

"Jazzman" Jeff Justman is a leader in Lake County's music community.


Daily Herald photo by Thomas Edwards

Jeff Justman plays at many local fairs, festivals and community events.


Daily Herald photo by Thomas Edwards

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Published: 8/17/2009 12:10 AM

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You see it in the smiling faces, some wrinkled with age, others beaming with youth. You hear it in the singing voices, some shy and untested, others thick with the echoes of time. And you can feel it in the songs - cowboy odes, hillbilly anthems, rock and roll and warm folk.

It is the joy of "Jazzman" Jeff Justman's "Acoustic Music Jam" at the Lord of Glory Church in Grayslake, a time and place where worries are tossed aside, old hearts beat young once more and the sounds of yesteryear blend with those of the up and coming.

Dozens of Lake County musicians gather every other Friday to play, pal around and enjoy life. Justman hosts the event, lending his songs and a friendly environment to musicians looking for people and a place to play.

"It's like something straight out of Nashville or Austin," said Justman, 56, of Mundelein. "We are trying to make the community a better place by bringing people together and by growing a musical community."

The community outreach program is open to local musicians of all ages, acoustic instruments, skill levels and styles. And with nearly 500 local musicians on Justman's invite list, "Acoustic Music Jam" never fails to draw a crowd.

A typical crowd of 50 musicians attends the event, split into several rooms where different genres are enjoyed. An informal vibe encourages participants, ranging from teenagers to octogenarians, to jump in any way they can.

"I let the music flow in the rooms, making sure that people are playing music and that everybody is having a good time," said Justman. "Sometimes I'll help jump-start things but the music usually takes off on its own."

Justman, a banker, has played music for over 40 years and frequently performs in Lake County. Also a leading member of the Lake County Folk Club, he has made it his mission to bestow the bliss of song upon as many as possible.

Don Morman of Park Ridge has attended the jam, formerly held in Libertyville, for 25 years. He credits Justman with reviving the jam in 2002 and reaching out to others ever since.

"People come out and leave behind the stresses of their lives - they forget their cares and worries and they have a great time," said Morman. "I've made several lifelong friends through the Acoustic Jam that I still see on a regular basis."

Merv Collins of Algonquin said Justman's unselfish brand of leadership provides an invaluable social and artistic outlet to his community.

"The Acoustic Jam is how music should be - a lot of fun," Collins said. "I wish there were more people like Jeff who were willing to put the time and energy toward improving the lives of others,"

The "Jazzman's" folk rock stylings were recently featured at the Save-A-Pet Adoption Center in Grayslake, where he performed in support of the no-kill shelter's 37th anniversary.

"Its so generous of him volunteer his time and equipment year after year," said Save-A-Pet Executive Director Frank Corbi. "Jeff's music is always wonderful for us."

The next Acoustic Music Jam is Friday, Aug. 28, from 8 to 11 p.m. Musicians must contact Jeff Justman to join the invite list before the Jam. Participants are invited to offer a small donation to Lord of Glory Church for housing the event. Call (847) 989-9634 or visit for meeting times and more information.