Jami Lynn
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Jami Lynn

Spearfish, South Dakota, United States | Established. Jan 01, 2009 | SELF

Spearfish, South Dakota, United States | SELF
Established on Jan, 2009
Band Folk Americana




"A Dream with the Sodbusters"

A decade or two back, it was said that in South Dakota heaven and hell share the same space. The landscape transforms from blissful prairies to deserted badlands; culminated at it's western most border with the majestic Black Hills. The land is rugged, often times more intimidating and beautiful than you can imagine. Interstate 90 is it's spiritual fault line, dividing prairie and desert sand. You'll feel as though paradise lay on one side of the black top, with apocalypse looming on the other. The same can be said about the music of singer-songwriter Jami Lynn- her angelic voice invokes images of yesteryear in rugged and refined hues. Jami has been making a name for herself in her native South Dakota for a few years now, however I'm very happy to say that she's become a badland flower in full bloom, touring an performing across the nation displaying an out of this world vocal ability and subtle songwriting that sneaks up on you like a wallflower slowly coming out of her shell in a Texas speakeasy. Anyone that’s familiar with her music will know I'm speaking the truth when I say this young lady is going places, and is destined to become a formidable force in modern American Roots music. Her albums "Dreamer" and "Sodbusters" show a primitive and progressive strength- combining collaborations with top notch musicians and a solo performance style that’s powerful yet disarming in it's approach and sound. In other words, she's good. Damned good! I caught Jami Lynn in the midst of traveling on this interview. Recently she's been performing all the way from Tennessee to her current home base in Rapid City, so I'm glad she took the time to do this. Pay attention folks...she's a rising star.

You've been branching out lately as a performer. I see you doing shows from your native South Dakota all the way to Nashville. Where are
you based currently?

About a year ago, I moved from the southeastern tip of South Dakota to Rapid City in the Black Hills. There's an incredibly supportive music community out here. It's a wonderful place to come home to!

Tell me a little about your most recent album "Sodbusters" - first off, what inspired the name?

The first settlers from the east who settled in the upper Midwest busted up the sod, built their houses out of it, and began farming on the prairie. They sort of christened themselves "sodbusters." I ran across the name when I was doing research for my undergraduate thesis on folk music from South Dakota and the surrounding states. I also dug up five of the eleven songs from the album during that research-- a Norwegian lullaby, a lumbering ballad, a cowboy ballad were among them. The rest of the album sort of fell around these songs. It was easy to write music when I was coming across such great material in my research.

The album features a mix of traditional/old timey influenced songs and originals pretty seamlessly. You've made a transition from primarily acoustic guitar and vocals to incorporating banjo and other instrumentation. Was it natural for you to write the music with an old-timey feel or did it take some study?

I think once I put myself in the mindset of the settler, the riverboat driver, the cattle driver, it just sort of came out in an old timey way. I was lucky to have Josh's musical eye when orchestrating the songs, though. He's definitely responsible for all of the songs contrasting, yet fitting together in the end.

I'm glad you mentioned multi-instrumentalist Josh Reick, a great talent! You both produced the album yourselves- where did you record it? What was it like putting it together?

We ended up passing sound equipment and tracks back and forth over the course of a few months. So it was in living rooms, offices, and bathrooms. It was frustrating at first, I'd always forget to unplug something, and then get interrupted in the middle of a track! But it was a great learned experience.

As a songwriter myself, I'm always curious as to what inspires you as a songwriter? What/Who are your biggest influences?

I think I'm most inspired by a sense of place. Next, probably history. I've also taken notes from Canadian singer/songwriter Sarah Harmer, Iowa City 's Dave Moore.

Your vocal prowess is impressive to say the least, and I've learned that that you're classically trained. Has your music education helped you as a performer and a songwriter? Is it hard to mesh both worlds?

Studying classical voice has probably taught me more than I'm willing to admit. It really helped me get over the notion that I needed to make my voice sound a certain "folky" way. I'm very glad of that. I probably would have burned it out a few years ago if I hadn't stopped working so hard to sing.

Okay- so back to touring and branching out; what has the audience response been to "Sodbusters" and your live performances?

Presenting this music to people has been awesome. The best part about performing is the stories I hear from people afterwards. The title track of Sodbusters is about my great-great grandmother Lydia, and her experience of trekking across the county in cover wagon and settling in Northeastern South Dakota. There are so many people in audiences that have a cool story about their ancestors settling. I feel really lucky to hear all these stories!

Who do you have performing with you these days?

Since I moved to Rapid City, I've been playing solo. But there are some talented musicians out in the hills, and I've had the pleasure of collaborating with a few of them. James Van Nuys, Bob Fahey, and Hank Harris to name a few.

Cool. Where do you see yourself headed as a songwriter? Are you working on any new material? Any plans for a new album in the near future?

I think my next album will be a bit darker I'm afraid. South Dakota is right on the edge of a changing Midwest with the oil boom in North Dakota. That sense of foreboding has definitely affected my writing. It will be a little while before I have it together though.

Darker...I like that! In the meantime, how do people find more about and purchase your music? Where can they meet Jami Lynn?

You can learn more about Sodbusters and the folk research behind it at www.jamilynnmusic.com There are also links there on the music page to CD baby where you can purchase Sodbusters, and my first effort, Dreamer. Otherwise, mp3's are available just about anywhere you can buy mp3's: iTunes, Amazon, etc. - www.nodepression.com

"Raising the Musical Ghosts of the Prairie"

Nathan Johnson, The Yankton Press & Dakotan
While preparing for her future, Jami Lynn Buttke had no idea she would become so fascinated by the past. When she was attaining her music degree in vocal performance at the University of South Dakota several years ago, Buttke realized she needed a thesis topic. Ultimately, she decided to focus upon the early American folk music of the Upper Midwest. “It’s opened so many doors for me,” Buttke said. “I had just thought I’d write a quick thesis, but it turned into an extended project and I ended up really loving it. I recorded an album that is a piece of my thesis. It really allowed my writing to take direction. When I was doing all that research, it was really inspiring.”
The album in question, “Sodbusters,” was self-released earlier this year under Buttke’s “Jami Lynn” moniker. After doing some touring to support the release, Buttke has been working on an organic vegetable farm outside of Rapid City this summer. However, she will make time to perform this weekend at the Clay County Fair in Vermillion and the Hay Country Jamboree in Gayville. “I really like getting back to Vermillion,” Buttke said. “I was there for five years of college and the year afterward. After your college friends move away, you really start to appreciate the community and the relationships there.”
She graduated in the spring of 2010, and is currently working on a new album as time allows. “Next year, I’ll be transitioning back into full-time music, so I’m looking forward to that,” Buttke said. “In October and the spring, I’ll be doing a tour. I’m also on the South Dakota Arts Council’s Artists in Schools andCommunities roster for the first time. Early next year, I’ll have a few residencies around the state.”Her first record, 2008’s “Dreamer,” which was recorded with the Aquila Band, “rocked” in comparison to “Sodbusters” and was the result of a collaborative process with other artists, Buttke said. “Sodbusters” was recorded with Josh Rieck and is more reflective of Buttke’s individual tastes. It is very much a folk Americana album, she said. Six tunes on “Sodbusters” are originals, while the remaining five are folk songs Buttke came across while doing research for her thesis. “The Colorado Trail,” for example, was collected from a dying Montana cowboy in a Duluth, Minn., hospital. Buttke came across it in a 1934 book on American folk songs. “The Falling of the Pine” is a ballad found in a 1926 publication and isabout the days when square timber logging was popular in northern Minnesota. The title track of “Sodbusters” is an original song based upon Buttke’s family history. Buttke said her interest in music came before her interest in history. As a child growing up in Corona, she would accompany her grandfather when he went to music events. “I think the first time I got on a stage and sang was when I was 12 or 13,” she stated. “A lot of small communities in SouthDakota have the once a month old-time country music jamborees. It’s a pretty forgiving crowd, so it was kind of a perfect way for me to start. The first songs I performed on stage I still perform.”
Buttke studied classical voice music for a while at the University of South Dakota. “More or less, it was just to be in music,” she said. “I’m not that much into singing opera, but I enjoyed it a lot. It was a great experience for me, but it wasn’t exactly what Iwanted to do. I hadn’t established a genre. I didn’t realize how much I loved folk music until my junior year of college.” Among the influences Buttke cites are Hank Williams Sr., Ramblin’ Jack Elliott and the duo of Gillian Welch and David Rawlings. Jazz and blues also influence her music, she said. Buttke said there is no time line for releasing a new album. “I’m not sure where my next album isgoing, if it will be along the same lines as ‘Sodbusters’ or go in a different direction,” she stated. Buttke will perform at the Clay County Fair in Vermillion Friday during intermissions of the Fair Princess Contest from 2-4 p.m. She will also play at 6 p.m. during the free ice cream social. Additionally, Buttke will performalong with her recording partner Rieck at the Hay Country Jamboree in Gayville’s Gayville Hall at 8 p.m. Saturday. To learn more about Jami Lynn, visit www.jamilynnmusic.com - The Yankton Press & Dakotan

"Jami Lynn-Sodbusters"

"Sodbusters" is an album by American singer Jami Lynn with music first and then your spine reaches your ears. A CD recorded in the living room of her musical partner, Josh Rieck (vocals, mandolin, guitar, upright bass) without the resources of an expensive studio. "Sodbusters" is an album with six original songs mixed with five traditional folk songs. Historically accurate material on South Dakota as part of Jami's thesis: the early American folk music of the Upper Midwest.

Right from the opening song Sweet Thing, I was immediately sold. What a beautiful crystal clear voice. Jami Lynne impresses me. Leagues ahead elevated from the girl with acoustic guitar-folk idiom. A series of highlights follow this simple and intimate album. Accompanied by her banjo and Josh's mandolin, bass guitar or sing them songs like The Cold Hard Ground Colorado Trail and the stars of heaven. The acappelanummers The Falling Of The Pine and Love Do not Let Her Go penetrating sound, charming and diepdoorvoeld. Jami embraces me, the listener, like an octopus around her prey until forty minutes later release. The CD "Sodbusters" is a prime example Dakotan craft and an unrivaled handsome achievement of a relative newcomer to the folk genre, Jami Lynn.
- www.altcountryforum.nl

"Jami Lynn: South Dakota's Rising Star"

RAPID CITY – Gabbing over a hot cup of tea surrounded by the smell of drying herbs and the sight of vintage décor, one may be able to guess that one of Jami Lynn Buttke’s favorite places is the kitchen, and indeed, one of her favorite things to do is cook.
However, the old fashioned upright radio in the living room hints toward another of her passions: The bluegrass, folk, and acoustic musician’s ultimate dream of someday performing for Garrison Keilor.
“I would love to be on Prairie Home Companion,” the singer/songwriter, known simply as Jami Lynn on stage, said. “I grew up listening to it.”
Her music stand sits casually in the living room in front of an armchair with a cushion larger than the musician herself who plays the guitar and banjo. With two full-length albums and gigs around the Midwest already at age 24, there’s nothing casual about Jami’s vocal and musical talents.
Although she fears that Keilor’s announcement of his coming retirement limits the amount of time she has to reach her goal of performing live on the popular NPR radio show, Jami continues to play as often as she can where she is. Since moving to Rapid City in the spring, the young musician has become a regular on the list of “who’s who” in the area’s performance schedules.
The petite young woman grew up with two older sisters on a farm in Corona, S.D. Though she says her family “knows good music when they hear it,” she didn’t grow up listening to a lot of music in her house. It was her grandfather who exposed her to the old-time country, folk and bluegrass music that Jami continues to perform today. Her grandfather would bring his young granddaughter to monthly jamborees around the area, and as she listened to the music and stories of those in attendance, a lifelong love of learning the history behind the songs was born.
“A unique thing about me is that I’m very interested in the history and folklore of the music I play,” she said.
She started writing songs as a teenager, since she had always enjoyed writing poetry. She taught herself how to play the guitar in high school, as well, but it wasn’t until college that she considered trying to make it on her own as a musician. Jami calls her move into full-time performing a “slow progression.”
As a freshman at the University of South Dakota in Vermillion, she originally planned to double major in biology and music, but when the registrar asked which major she would like to list first, Jami said “music” without much thought.
“There wasn’t room for anything else after that!” she said.
She studied classical voice for the first two years of college, which taught her about breath support and music technique that she continues to use, though her singing style has changed. Jami also taught herself how to play the banjo during college. She holds and plucks it the same way she plays a guitar and describes it as her own style when seasoned banjo players ask her about it.
It was during her time at the University of South Dakota that Jami started playing at coffee shops, and eventually she did a semester exchange program at Tennessee State University in Nashville. There, she took commercial music courses and recorded her first album, “Dreamer,” released in 2008 under the name of Jami Lynn and the Aquila Band. She completed the semester shortly after the release of the album, and while she was grateful for the musical knowledge that she obtained in her time in Tennessee, she knew that there was another place she wanted to be.
“I loved Nashville,” she said. “It was a really great experience, but it made me realize that I wanted to be home. I love the Midwest.”
And the first person she lists as an influence is a musician who is able to play music and stay where he wants to live.
“He made it work here in the Midwest,” Jami said of Dave Moore, a musician from Iowa. She described him as having a really easy acoustic blues style and played with him at a folk festival once. Though she doesn’t keep in constant contact, she considers him a mentor in her journey as a musician.
This theme of being aware of place is continual throughout Jami’s music. She wrote her undergraduate thesis, "Early American Folk Music of the Upper Midwest," about the folklore of music in South Dakota. The act of researching and compiling the music allowed her into a world where few people have traversed.
“A lot of the songs I’m looking for, people still have,” she said, adding that the music isn’t written in books or stored in museums. Family members still have the songs written on the inside cover of books, or in journals, or simply imprinted in their memories from hearing their grandparents and parents pass the music along through the generations.
“It’s opened a lot of doors for me,” she said of her interest in compiling music history. This academic side to her music has allowed Jami to play at various academic conferences and museum venues, including the National Music Museum in Vermillion, the Adams Museum in Deadwood and the Courthouse Museum in Sioux Falls, among others.
While she hopes to go to graduate school someday, Jami decided that she wanted to try performing on her own before heading back to school. After graduating with a degree in music, she spent a year in Vermillion performing, enjoying the community and working on a second album.
Jami loved getting to know the jewels around the southeast corner of the state, including the Missouri River and Clay County Park, but when her boyfriend, Ryan Griffith, a guitar major whom she met at USD, was moving to Rapid City for the completion of medical school, Jami also headed west. But changing the part of the state in which she lives hasn’t changed her music.
She recently released “Sodbusters” with Josh Rieck, of Sioux Falls, and much of the music comes from Northwestern South Dakota. The title track tells the story of her great-great-grandmother coming to the Midwest in a prairie schooner. The duo recorded the album themselves, passing sound equipment back and forth between their living rooms.
“Folk music is one of those genres where you can cut corners and have it sound good,” she said.
The album combines traditional ballads and Jami’s original works.
“I write about characters and people I invent and places,” Jami said. “I think my music really gives you a strong sense of place rather than an emotional journey,” though emotion is certainly a part of the stories in the music.
The title track begins, “My mind’s in a bucket, my book’s in a box, and not three months later, they both would be lost.”
Jami said she wrote the song from the perspective of her great-great grandmother, and what it might have been like for her as a pioneer to South Dakota. Jami was staying with her grandparents in Texas during her senior year spring break, and as she told them about her research into the stories behind the songs of South Dakota, they revealed some of her own family stories.
Her great-great-grandmother Lydia married very young and moved from Illinois to Summit, S.D., with her husband. The couple had a number of children, and her husband decided to go farther West, taking two of the children with him to Lemmon, S.D. The plan was to establish a home there and have the rest of the family join him, but after two years and the loss of both children, Jami says that he threw up his hands and returned to Summit.
“I decided to write that song from her point of view,” she says of thinking about what her great-great-grandmother must have experienced. The result of her musings is “Sodbusters.”
Jami said that one of the most interesting connections she made after a performance involved a gentleman who had the same story of relatives traveling to the same part of South Dakota at the time her family members were. The stories were eerily similar, and though they found they aren’t related, Jami said the ability to share the story with an audience member in attendance at one of her performances was powerful.
Having a lot of her music set in this part of the country allows for the chance that audience members have similar stories in their histories, but it doesn’t mean that the music can’t translate outside of the area. Jami takes her music out to share, like when she toured the Greater Midwest earlier in the spring and more recently this fall.
Her first tour took her from Rapid City to Portland, Oregon, and she said that luckily, the chains she bought for her Monte Carlo never had to be utilized while driving over the mountain passes. She entertained audiences in Nebraska, Wyoming, Colorado, Montana, Idaho, and one stop in Portland, Oregon.
“The stars were aligning,” she said of how well the tour went. She traveled with a good friend from childhood, who coincidently was the person with whom Jami wrote her first song. They never had to stay in a hotel, as the people they met along the way insisted that they enjoy their hospitality.
“We couch-surfed a couple of nights and stayed up all night playing Bananagrams!” she said of the experience. Each such assembly made her all the more excited for the next day, to see just what kind of interesting folks she would meet along the way.
“I kept thinking that if I lived here, these people would be my friends,” she added.
Jami enjoyed these connections, and she said that all musicians strive to find a link with listeners when they are playing.
“You can feel it when it happens,” she said of the connection. “If you can make someone who’s digging into a steak turn around and listen to you, you’re doing pretty well.”
And Jami seems to be doing pretty well. She already has a following of all ages that she consistently sees when she performs.
“There’s a market for what I’m doing here,” she said, adding that she is impressed with the Black Hills for how quickly the locale has embraced her.
Her favorite part of performing is meeting the people and listening to what they have to say once they hear her perform.
“I love it when people come up to me afterwards…who correct me on something…or when they bring up another song,” she said. “I’m always learning. The feedback afterwards is awesome.”
While she’s playing, however, the musician isn’t thinking of anything in particular. She more often loses herself in the vocals.
“It’s kind of like therapy,” she described it.
She usually introduces the songs with the history behind them during a performance, in the hopes that each audience member will leave with a better understanding of themselves through those stories.
“I don’t think people know that we have such a cool history,” she said.
Jami has also learned that change is inevitable. She said that she gets into a certain style of music as she continues to add to her repertoire, but she may find something else within a few months that catches her attention. Though this type of change may not work for an album, Jami has learned to embrace it.
She gets excited when learning new music and says her favorite song is always the newest that she’s learned. She calls herself the “stereotypical unorganized artist” who usually forgets something and stresses about it before a performance, though it is usually nothing too important. “I’m getting better,” she said, laughing as she added that she’s never forgotten something like her guitar.
She also enjoys playing with other musicians and has had the chance to sit in or jam out with talent including Hank Harris, James Van Nuys, Kenny Putnam and others, and she has plans for other up and coming collaborations with area musicians.
She recently performed for the first time with her boyfriend, Ryan, whom she described as a better guitar player than she and a “really great support in music.” The two put on a “pretty good show together,” and Jami said that she hopes to see more of that in the future.
She can also see the addition of more jazz to her repertoire. One of her current goals is to learn jazz chords. She has a few residencies in the artist in schools program this year as well, where she will be working on music with students in schools around the area.
“This next year will be very interesting—but I’m so excited,” she said.
And who knows what other excitements the year could bring? For South Dakota Public Broadcasting fans, they’ve recently heard different interviews of Jami coming over the waves, and there’s still hope that before he retires, Garrison Keilor will also discover the talent of one of the newest Black Hills faces that so many of her listeners already know.
Whether Jami can pick up that performance on her upright radio in her living room is another story. But if you find yourself lucky enough to be there to hear it, make sure to request the mint tea.
- Black Hills Faces

"Jami Lynn-Sodbusters"

I know shamefully little about South Dakota, beyond recollections of a family trip when I was about four. And while I haven’t done too much to rectify the situation, other than scoping out google images of National Parks, I have had the pleasure of enjoying some new music from one of the state’s finest songwriters. You may have heard Jami Lynn’s “Sweet Thing” as the opening cut of the latest 9B podcast. The song is also the first track on her new album Sodbusters, which she is self releasing. Lynn previously released an album (2008’s Dreamer) as Jami Lynn and the Aquila Band. She is accompanied on this “solo” album by her former bandmate Josh Rieck. Lynn’s voice shifts easily from indie rock croon to a full bodied gospel to a traditional folk storyteller, making each song unique, even when the arrangements, mostly banjo and guitar, are similar. The playing is good, and the spare instrumentation allows Lynn’s voice, along with Rieck’s harmonies, to carry the songs through. However, the haunting old-world acappella “The Falling of the Pine” is a standout track for me as is really lets her voice speak for itself. Her website identifies it as a song she discovered while researching her thesis on American folk music, and describes it as “a ballad from the time when “square timber logging” was popular during the Golden Age of Lumbering in northern Minnesota.” It conjures Frank Turner’s forays into old English folk music, and she clearly shares his interest and pride in the history of her music.
The album mellows a bit after the midway point, trading banjo licks for more guitar finger picking. Now, a few years ago, I’ll admit that I would have lost interest at this point. I wandered into Americana, like many punks who started looking for something new after turning 22, over a bottle of whiskey and memories of the stuff my dad listens to. It took some time time for me to understand where softer, more, eh, nuanced music fit into life. Now, however, the more music I hear, the more I come to appreciate musicians like Jami Lynn who don’t go trying to re-invent the wheel, but don’t settle for the same tired standards either. So even if the last quarter of the album is too soft for your taste, don’t drift off: the closer, “Don’t Let Her Love Go”, is another great vocal song, accompanied only by percussion, leaving you to walk away from the album with the tight harmonies in your head and a solid Americana album under your belt. - www.ninebullets.net


Jami Lynn-Sodbusters (2011)
-The Falling of the Pine, The Colorado Trail, and The Little Ole featured in The Smithsonian Shared Harmonies Project, summer 2012.

Jami Lynn & The Aquila Band- Dreamer (2008)
-CD Baby's "Editors Pick"

Jami Lynn & Dylan James- Cluck & Croon (Coming Spring 2013)



It’s been a good year for Jami Lynn. With high honors in the Rocky Mountain Folks Festival’s Songwriting Showcase Finals, new album “Fall is a Good Time to Die” named to The Telegraph’s top country albums of 2015 (next to Willie Nelson, The Punch Brothers, and Dar Williams), and critics proclaiming her “5 out of 5 stars, essential listening” (Empty Bottles and Broken Souls), it’s been a good year. But this year is not only the culmination of hard work and good luck, but the fruition and maturing of two musical passions-of writing and performing.

Hailing from the Great Plains of eastern South Dakota, Jami began performing folk and bluegrass music at the age of thirteen. It took little coaxing from her grandfather to make the transition from the audience to the stage, where old-time country, polka, and regional folk music reigned supreme. At the age of sixteen, Jami began accompanying herself on guitar and writing her own music. After high school, Jami Lynn attended the University of South Dakota majoring in Vocal Performance. Though it was clear that opera was not in her cards, Jami stuck with music, spending a semester at Tennessee State University in Nashville to study Commercial Music and immerse herself in singer/songwriter scene. While the experience honed her performance and songwriting skills, it also heightened Jami’s awareness of her deep connection to the landscape and culture of the Upper Midwest.

Upon returning to finish college in South Dakota, Jami Lynn began work on her senior thesis, “Early American Folk Music of the Upper Midwest.” What began as a typical slap-it-together-and-call-it -good thesis turned into an intensive year of research resulting in academic presentations in museums, libraries, and historical societies, and most importantly, the recording of “Sodbusters,” her first full length solo album. Inspired by stories of her ancestors trek from the East coast to the Dakota Territory, the title track of Sodbusters offers the perspective of Jami Lynn’s great-great grandmother, Lydia Huff. In addition to six original songs, the album features five folk songs from the South Dakota area. A lumbering ballad from the forests of Minnesota, a Norwegian lullaby, an Irish folk tune, and a cowboy ballad from the open range compliment her own artfully crafted folk songs. Sodbusters not only caught the attention of international critics in France and the Netherlands but was included in the Smithsonian's Shared Harmonies Project.

"Fall Is A Good Time To Die" is the first album of Lynn's comprised entirely of original songs, self-produced alongside her band, Dalton Coffey (dobro, mandolin) and Andrew Reinartz (bass). Lynn’s voice is reminiscent of Anaïs Mitchell’s, with a darker, wilder quality all her own, as if she were born to project her voice across the plains. With the power and dynamic of My Brightest Diamond, Lynn’s voice is complimented by her deceptively creative melodies. When not performing for public audiences Lynn also brings folk music to elementary students and hospital systems through the South Dakota State Arts Council’s Artists in the Schools program and Touring Artists program. She's also shared the stage with legendary folk singer Spider John Koerner, Gillian Welch, The Wood Brothers, Jolie Holland, Mason Jennings, Trampled by Turtles, Charlie Parr, Chatham County Line, The Pines, Special Consensus, and claw-grass great Mark Johnson. Jami is currently based out of Spearfish, SD.