A bittersweet return to Hoboken for Jungle Gym Jam

Amy and Jason Didner of Jungle Gym Jam.

Amy and Jason Didner of Jungle Gym Jam.

The children’s rock band Jason Didner and the Jungle Gym Jam performed at the Hoboken Spring Arts & Music Festival in early May. And they will return to the Mile Square City for the Hoboken Fall Arts & Music Festival (headlined by Willie Nile and Nicole Atkins) on Sunday. But it’s been a rocky four and a half month between the two festivals.

A week after the May event, puppeteer/percussionist Amy Didner learned that she was in need of a kidney transplant. She got it from her husband, singer-guitarist Jason Didner, who happened to match her blood type. The surgery took place later that month.

The band performed again about a month later, with the two, still recovering, forced to sit throughout the show. Bassist Lou DeMartino and roadie Max Moore did all the equipment lifting that Jason would normally have done.

Sadly, in late July, DeMartino died of an asthma attack. (DeMartino, who also played with the rock band Joe D’Urso & Stone Caravan, will be remembered at a memorial service and concert at the Stone Pony in Asbury Park, Oct. 25.)

“You don’t get over the loss of a friend and bandmate, but you get through it,” said Jason Didner. “It helps to remember that your common bond with your friend was the music and you can honor your friend by keeping it going.”

The band, including new bassist Sean Wolfle, will perform at 1 and 2 p.m. on the Hoboken festival’s children’s stage at Washington and Third streets. For a complete schedule, visit hobokennj.org.

“A lot has happened since our last show in Hoboken, much that has brought us great joy, and much that has brought us deep sorrow,” Jason Didner said. “But everything leaves us grateful that we can still do this and even do it better each time for the kids and their grown-ups who spend their time watching us.”

For information on the band, visit junglegymjam.com.

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