Author: Ramos, Jean

Hosting a Jam

At age 50, I noticed that the print quality of the phone book and newspaper really began to decline, it was blurry and try as I might, I couldn’t make it come into focus. I decided it would be easier for me to get some magnifying glasses than it would be to get the Yellow pages and newspaper companies to do a better job. At first I would only wear glasses to read or sew or other close work. I had a hard time keeping track of my glasses and vowed to no longer make fun of folks who wore theirs around their neck hanging by a lanyard of some sort. At some point, I realized I was no longer taking my glasses off; I have no idea when I made the transition to wearing them every waking moment. It just happened naturally.

I told you that, to tell you this. I don’t remember how it came about that I would begin hosting jams in my camp at the various CBA events. It just seemed to come about naturally. At some point in the past couple years, we began bringing EZ-ups, lighting and extra jamming chairs along with us to camp-outs and festivals.

There are pros and cons to hosting jams. I feel like if there’s a jam in my camp, I need to be there picking along and singing and maintaining some semblance of order. As a result, I don’t take part in other jams too often and there are some folks that I never getacquainted with; my loss. Hosting a jam requires large doses of diplomacy and love, especially if you have “people pleaser tendencies” as I do.

When I first started hosting jams, it crossed my mind that I might sit out chairs and start picking and no one would come. Fortunately, I’ve been spared that humiliation. It’s usually the opposite. At our recent camp-out at the Lighthouse Resort, I counted the number of different pickers and singers that visited my jams over the course of the week. I was surprised when the numbers reached 48. Well, 49 if we can count the man that did the “belly slapping” thing one night.

As I do at all CBA events, I made new friends and got better acquainted with others. One afternoon, Snap Jackson and Erin came by with their beautiful family; they knew I wanted to meet Milo. When they left to go see other friends, nine year old Laynie decided she wanted to hang out in our camp; her visit turned out to be one of the highlights of my week. She said she wished she had brought her mandolin so I loaned her one. Her mandolin chops were right on and she has no problem hearing the chord changes. She has been playing the mandolin off and on for about a year and a half. We picked and sang together for a half hour or so. When we took a break from music, she brought out her jump rope. As I mentioned to some of you, jumping rope is like riding a bike, once you learn you never forget…but you do look funnier. I’m glad there was no video camera around. Thanks Laynie.

I had such a good time with Frank Brewer from Chico. He’s one of those guys you meet and after spending an hour or so together, you feel like old friends. He loves the old country music, has a great voice and is very witty. We worked out a duet together, “Sweet Thang.” What fun! I also met a young lady named Beth Berkelhammer, she’s from San Francisco, has a pretty eclectic taste in music but its all good. She was hesitant to get in the “fray” at first but the people in our jam were so friendly and welcoming that she soon felt at home. CBA people are just that way, aren’t they? She stayed until no one was left but me and my bass playing friend, Lou McClenahan. It turns out that she is Jimmy Rodgers’ second biggest fan. We ended up singing all the prettiest songs he ever did but would be “jam busters” in a normal situation.

Speaking of Jimmy Rodgers, one night when I was doing one of the blue yodels, my friend Rene was in the jam. Her husband came and had their two beagles on their leashes there behind where she was seated. When I got to the yodel at the end of the song, Earl, the 6 month old beagle pup threw his head back and started baying right on cue. He does it better than I do!

I’m always inviting friends and family to visit our CBA functions so that they can witness firsthand all the fun we have. My friends, Rich and Rodalee Lyman came from Brentwood for the day on Saturday. They had a great time. Rich asked me the next day which instrument would be the easiest for him to learn. I didn’t suggest the belly slapping thing but I was tempted. Try the mandolin, Rich.

After singing country songs for over 55 years, you can bet I know the words to a lot of Honky Tonk drinking songs, even though it no longer reflects my lifestyle. One night when I was jamming with Vic Yeakle, we got on a roll. I sang the song, “Jones on the Jukebox,” and it reminded him of another Honky Tonk song and we ended up doing an alternating medley of drinking songs which ended up being a contest to see who would be the last man “standing.” This went on for I don’t know how long (Terry said, it seem like an hour); I knew I’d lost when all I could think of was the 1958 Champs hit, “Tequila!”

The Lighthouse resort has some members that have never missed any of the bluegrass events there, it’s always good to see them and have their support. I got to see Dave, a man I showed a few guitar chords to back in 2010. He is keeping up the good work, and is now taking lessons. Tony, another regular around there took Terry fishing.

Another Fall Camp-Out is in the books. Thanks go out to Dave Brace, Walt Jameison, Vic Yeakle, Mona Anacleto and all their helpers. I’m happy for all those who won a nice instrument in the raffle, thanks to Slim and Charlene for selling all those tickets. I now have my year supply of bookmarks. A very special thanks to Lou McClenahan for hanging with me all week and keeping us all in line in more ways than one. Gotta love our bass player. It was my pleasure to be a jam hostess. The payoff can be summed up by the words I heard Jesse House speak when he played his last song. “This has been the best camp-out I have ever attended.” ‘Til next time…

Posted:  10/28/2012

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