Greg Cohoon (drmellow) wrote,
Greg Cohoon

Bluegrass Jam Session

Tonight I finally went to the bluegrass jam session for the first time in about two months. Especially since my coworkers and I have gotten too busy at work to do our lunchtime jam sessions, I really missed going to these evening jam sessions. Hopefully, I'll be able to make this more of a habit, 'cause it really does wonders for my playing to play with other people. More than anything, it helps me think in terms of the structure of the music, 'cause we often play songs that I've never even heard before. My ear is beginning to get good enough that I can do a pretty good job of anticipating the chord changes. It helps that most bluegrass is really structured around I-V, I-IV-V, or (occasionally) I-II-V-IV.

Anyway, tonight, I played chords with everything we did. I even got most of the chords correct. I took a break on "Old Joe Clark," which I messed up a little bit -- but not so much I couldn't easily recover. I also led "Soldier's Joy," so I took two breaks on that one. I thought I was going to have a chance to take a break on "Cripple Creek," but the dobro player really wanted to play it in G instead of A, and I wasn't going to be able to transpose the melody quick enough to be able to take a break, so I just did chords. Since all of the mandolin chords for "Cripple Creek" are closed position chords, all I had to do was slide it down two frets.

There was another mandolin there for about half the jam. He had a capo for his mandolin, which I've never seen before. It was pretty cool -- mandolin capos are tiny. I don't know that I'd ever need to get a capo for chords, but I guess it might be useful for transposing keys on some of the breaks. *shrug*

I met a couple of neat people at the jam again this week. Jim was there, of course, as the de facto leader, playing banjo and occasionally guitar. A guitar player named Ed was there. I met Ed at the last jam I went to. He's really nice -- he encouraged me to lead "Soldier's Joy" instead of passing when it came around before. He asked if I knew "Red Haired Boy," and I told him maybe next time. I'm really comfortable with the break there, but not as comfortable with the chords. He's a great guy. We even talked about David Bromberg and Arlo Guthrie for a bit between songs. I also met J. V., a man who's been playing music for 60 years. He started playing when he was 18 and doesn't read music, but he can really pick up most anything by ear. He says that he considers himself a singer, not an instrumentalist, but he's still pretty darn good on the fiddle. He said that a few of his buddies get together on Saturday mornings and play at the farmer's market in town -- I think the one close to the baseball stadium. He said that there are usually four of them, but one of them won't be able to make it this week and he invited me to come sit in with them. I told him not to count on me, but I might check it out. I just thought it was pretty cool to be asked to sit in with him.

Anyway, it was lots of fun. I'm already looking forward to my next jam session.

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