- The Washington Times - Wednesday, July 6, 2005

Watch out: It’s the Pot Luck Open Jam or PLOJ, a free-form musical gathering that gives new meaning to “free form,” and it’s coming to the College Perk Coffeehouse in College Park on Saturday.

“The thing I love the most about PLOJ,” says Heather Lloyd of the band ilyAIMY, which is centrally involved in PLOJ’s planning and performance, “is that … it is truly an all-ages, all-genre musical event.”

Jams like this are held every few months. Miss Lloyd’s band mate Rob Hinkal, who hosts the 33rd jam Saturday, credits the idea to his friend Syl Smith, who first offered the use of his large, Colonial-era home in Edgewater, Md., in 1998.

“We had it for the first two years at his place … and slowly I’ve taken possession of it as it wanders,” Mr. Hinkal says from a folk festival gig in Belleville, Ill.

The four members of ilyAIMY (for “I love you and I Miss You”) style themselves “acoustic grunge” — although “dark, aggressive folk” also would fit. On “Deep in the AM,” from their 2003 album “Myxomatosis Failed,” Mr. Hinkal’s vocal cadence is even similar to Ani DiFranco’s. Not what you expect from a guy who’s dressed like Rob Zombie’s kid brother.

“We want to get it straight from the beginning that we ain’t your granddaddy’s acoustic music,” he jokes.

But they’re acoustic enough that they managed to win the New Artist category at last year’s Takoma Park Folk Festival.

One rule about the PLOJ is that it’s acoustic only.

And because the PLOJ is a potluck, College Perk patrons are encouraged to buy drinks there but not food.

“It’s an amazing thing for a venue to do to support local music,” says Miss Lloyd.

Detailed information about the PLOJ for musicians and listeners (including etiquette, as it’s a family friendly event) is at www.ilyaimy.com/PLOJ.

“Heather and I will each play one or two songs an hour,” Mr. Hinkal says. “More than that,” she chimes in. And ilyAIMY’s other members — Sharif Kellogg and Rowan Corbett — will join in as well.

Mr. Hinkal’s job as host is to keep a balance between heavier and quieter songs, although “it’s encouraged to be a group participation thing. People join in [onstage] or step out as they please.”

Miss Lloyd says the PLOJ is a good place for newly written songs.

“That’s a great place to try them out. There’s an informal quality to it, and at the same time you may have musicians jumping in with instruments that you had never even considered.”

Those instruments have included pedal steel, a couple of violin players at a time, two upright bass players, theremin, accordion and washtub players.

“We get people who bring little babies and put little congas in front of them,” she says.

As for the musicians, they range from Wammie nominees to “people who wander in not knowing what it was, and do a cappella harmony stuff,” Miss Lloyd says. “We had people show up who did traditional Irish songs, unaccompanied, but halfway through enough people had picked up on the melody” to play along.

• • •

The influential underground- rock trio Dinosaur Jr. crawls out of the tar pit with its original lineup for the first time in what seems like eons when it plays the 9:30 Club on Monday.

It’s been more than 20 years since they formed in Amherst, Mass., but for most of the ‘90s Dinosaur Jr. was basically singer-guitarist J Mascis, while booted bassist Lou Barlow kept busy with his own lo-fi outfit Sebadoh. Now they’ve reunited with drummer Murph in the wake of Merge Records’ re-release of their first three albums.

Like the Washington state grunge bands that followed later, the Dinosaurs embraced the ‘70s heavy-metal power chords that the punk rockers had rejected, although ironically the trio started out on Black Flag’s label SST.

“Little Furry Things,” the opener from 1987’s “You’re Living All Over Me,” has a typically noisy beginning, but then gives way to some indie-pop strumming, and even a tambourine. Things go back to normal and the feedback goes back to 11 on the next track, “Kracked.”

The epic “Sludgefest” briefly turns pretty, but mostly it’s solid East Coast grunge. “Sludgefest” has a few good angsty lyrics like “Gotta connect with you girl/Or forget how,” but you’re here for the guitar, not the lyrics, which will probably get drowned out onstage anyway.

Most of the live set will come from the first three albums (no new songs are in the works), probably including one song that’s been appended to “You’re Living All Over Me.”

The enjoyably half-serious rendition of the Cure’s “Just Like Heaven” sounds as if it were recorded in a garbage can, and the periodic primal screams should please the metalheads and other non-Cure fans.

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