Nicki Bluhm, the lead singer of Nicki Bluhm & The Gramblers, was talking after their set with a few of her band members under palm tree shade. As the sun hides itself beyond the incoming tides off Jaco’s coast, the introductory act of Jungle Jam 2014 finally has a chance to take in the stellar view.
“I can’t imagine any better setting to play music,” Mrs. Bluhm said from the beach-side Copacabana Desire Hotel.
Playing for a tranquil and Gringo-heavy crowd outside the hotel, Mrs. Bluhm and company ushered in the fourth version of Jacó’s camp-out music festival with some calm and folksy tunes. And the party is not about to stop, as music rolls on until late Sunday evening while the campground remains open through Tuesday. Over the next few days highly anticipated acts like Slightly Stoopid, G. Love, and Don Carlos will take stage throughout Jacó, although the meat of the schedule is taking place in the fields of Hotel Docelunas with the beginning and tail end of each night happening on the beach town’s main strip.
“Docelunas is paradise inside of paradise,” said festival producer Eric Freitas before the weekend began. “Nights turn into days, days turn into nights, and the music never stops.”
With the drifting remnants of the setting sun coloring the sky orange, it becomes easy to see why so many able American tourists have descended upon Jacó for these concerts that take place in a postcard. Though Freitas couldn’t release any ticketing numbers, he did expect this year’s outing to double last year’s. Still, he insists that no matter how many end up coming to the festival, he and his crew are working to make sure it’s a memorable trip.
“Honestly we aren’t putting as much emphasis on worrying about the turnout as we are on improving year to year in all aspects of the event, including customer experience and production,” Feitas said.
From California to Florida, Texas to Colorado, a wide range of the United States was represented on the festival’s opening day. Some have come to volunteer and work setting up the productions and assisting the artists. Others had been planning on vacationing here and knew the festival was a good excuse for spending a week in Costa Rica.
Eighteen-year-old surfers Xavier Terrell and Josh Servi from San Diego, California, had always wanted to visit another country. When Servi, who receives email newsletters from Slightly Stoopid, first heard the news that his favorite band was headlining Jungle Jam, he said there was no doubting where he would be in mid-January.
“I saw the email, turned the computer screen to (Terrell), and we knew we had to make it to Costa Rica,” Servi said.
The pair plans to visit other surfing towns along the Pacific coast before returning to the States, highlighting a trend that most Jungle Jam patrons are following. There’s no questioning Jacó’s importance for the country’s tourism industry. An event like this that is becoming an international attraction allows for greater revenue numbers in not only Jacó, but also neighboring towns and resorts that tourists freely visit afterwards. For now, they will just have to settle for live music, complimentary yoga lessons, and dusk-to-dawn parties.
Nicki Bluhm & The Gramblers will play again on the main stage at Docelunas at 9 o’clock tonight, allowing the San Francisco-based band a unique opportunity to be both Jungle Jam’s openers and one of its headliners.
“To come a long way, it is nice to have a prime spot,” Mrs. Bluhm said. “But it was also nice to play today at 3 p.m. here in the shade next to the beach. They’ve done a great job setting up the schedule.”
During that opening set, a fitting energy occupied that first afternoon, one that was excitable but still unleashed. Mrs. Bluhm tried to tap into the obvious potential of this weekend, urging the crowd to join her in dancing and singing along.
“The fun has just begun,” Mrs. Bluhm said from the small, sandy stage. “Now grab a beer and let the chilling out begin, too.”