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Jambando still jams after 10 years

Orlando musician Dave Mann always looks happy.

Even in the midst of organizing a slate of more than 20 local bands for Saturday's Jambando concert series, Mann is rarely seen without his Cheshire-cat grin.

One of the founders of that series, which marks its 10th anniversary Saturday on four stages at Plaza Live, Mann attributes his disposition to advice he received from blues legend B.B. King about 20 years ago in Orlando:

"I met B.B. King when I was 22," Mann says. "For some reason, he decided to give me a piece of advice. He told me, 'I've played music every single day for 70 years and it's always been fun. The minute it's not fun, it's time to find something else to do.'

"That came from the king," Mann says, "so I've tried to follow it."

On Saturday, the fun will be provided by a roster of bands that includes such local favorites as the Hindu Cowboys, Gargamel! frontman Mandaddy, The Dropa Stone, Vova Zen and Mann's own funkUs. A midway with food vendors and artisans selling crafts and other hippie-friendly accessories will be in front of the Plaza's entrance.

"We consider ourselves music fans and we create these events for music fans," Mann says. "I have always enjoyed the huge music festivals — Langerado [the now-defunct music festival in South Florida] and Bonnaroo [in Manchester, Tenn.] — so I wanted to create that on a smaller stage."

The event has grown since the inaugural Fringe Jambando, a showcase for Central Florida jam-bands at the 2003 Orlando International Fringe Festival. For a time, the event was a monthly fixture at Hard Rock Live, then an occasional event at The Social. After roughly a two-year hiatus, Jambando moved into its current home at the Plaza in 2009, where it unfolds several times a year.

"They liked the idea of it being a community oriented thing," Mann says. "We work together to put these on because that's really the only way it can happen. There are no millionaires involved with this project, but in the Plaza we found a perfect match. You can get that big festival feel with four stages and they can accommodate the number of people that are coming."

Creatively, the Jambando crew is always looking for thematic wrinkles to keep fans — and the bands — interested. One of the most popular was the 2009 Woodstock Jambando, which packed the theater with fans to hear Orlando acts such as Kaleigh Baker re-create the music of the original Woodstock in 1969.

For this weekend's 10th anniversary show, the goal is to put together a marathon three-hour jam, in which members of different bands mingle together on stage for nonstop music.

"It's not as chaotic as it sounds," Mann says. "Musicians will be replacing musicians throughout. That's the goal, that most of the time there will be seamless transitions from band-to-band for three continuous hours of a huge jam."

For the finale, the goal is to set a Jambando record for the most musicians performing together onstage at once. Eugene Snowden's ensemble, Umoja, holds the record of 19.

FunkUs tested the idea with a rotating cast of guests in a 2-1/2 hour set at last week's Florida Music Festival, part of a Jambando showcase that was one of the event's highlights.

"I can't remember the last time I had so much fun," Mann says.

B.B. King would be proud.

jcabbott@tribune.com or 407-420-6213

Online: jambando.com

Spring Jambando

What: 10th anniversary edition of Orlando jam-band concert series, featuring more than 20 acts including the Hindu Cowboys, funkUs, Mandaddy (of Gargamel!), Savi Fernandez Band, Sonar and others

When: 5 p.m. Saturday, April 27

Where: Plaza Live, 425 N. Bumby Ave., Orlando

Cost: $10 at the gate

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