Author: Lange, David

Show's Over, Nothing to See Here?
The encore has just been played by the final band for the evening. As the stage lights fade, many vendors begin to close up shop, and as cars begin to stream out of the parking lot; there is an impression that the day is over. So, show’s over, nothing to see here? Not exactly…….

Welcome to the "Late Late Show" at the Fathers Day Bluegrass Festival… At this show, there is no schedule, no stage, and no MC. There are no CD’s to purchase, and as far as I know, you won’t find on the radio waves. But for a lot of us, after hours at Fathers Day is worth the ticket price even if there were no stage performances.

Within minutes of the mass exodus from the audience area following the final song on stage, camp sites that were dark and unoccupied come alive with lights and high energy.
Instruments are coming out of the cases right and left and tuners fired up. Some people remain at their camp with the table set for jamming with friends and new faces alike.
Others grab their instruments and eagerly head off to wander throughout the festival grounds to discover the spontaneity that awaits them.

It’s time to JAM!!! Jams start up like ambers spreading from a fast moving forest fire. Some turn into bon fires. And as one jam begins to flicker and die out, another begins only yards away. A Street light that only minutes ago served only to guide festival goers through the darkness becomes a chandelier over a jam.

Closing in on the wee hours of the morning, you have a good chance of encountering that jam where you can drag out some of those songs that normally remain in the closet and shall we say, are not exactly traditional bluegrass ……..The Coasters anyone? Oh, and lets not forget the ultimate late night munchies factory……the Polish Sausage dude….Yeh !! Slap some mustard and onions on that puppy!!! …….It just doesn’t get any better my friends.

I turned in an hour or so ago, and lay there eyes shut, but brain still wired and unable to switch off. The sun is just about to rise over a sea of RV’s and tents, and the music has finally winded down to one lone mandolin. I can also hear quiet conversation and gentle laughter that fades with every passing minute as they eventually give in to the rising sun and head off to find their pillow. All part of the final remains of another twenty four hour cycle of bluegrass. At the same time the music and the sound of voices fade, the smell of a fine cooked breakfast drifts by; the sign of the early risers ready to receive the pass of the torch within a festival that never sleeps.

For many of you, the late night at Fathers Day is a highlight of your festival experience. As for you “late night junkies”, the day light hours may be all about catching naps, nursing those blisters, perhaps working in some aimless wandering, and if possible, avoiding conversation that has anything to do with rocket science or politics as you build up the stamina for another late night……..Of course all without missing any of your favorite bands at the stage…....(Ya, Right…….).

No matter what your level of playing, the environment for jamming at the Fathers Day Bluegrass Festival is for you. As a beginner, it is an absolute golden opportunity to practice your skills and learn new ones. As well as a lot of great jamming, during the festival there are some fantastic workshops provided by professional musicians that are free.

Now time for the tip of the day………

In last month’s column, “The Instrument in the Corner”, one of the suggestions for beginning musicians was to get out and jam!!! Having a basic understanding of jam etiquette will be very helpful for you and can inspire people to want to help you out.

There are a number of great resources available that give some tips on how jams function and explain jam etiquette. There is one extraordinary resource that I would like to share with you. One of California’s excellent music teachers, Sid Lewis, has created a jamming workshop for beginning bluegrass jamming! The course is titled “Jamming 101!” Information about Jamming 101 can be found at Sid’s website

One of the chapters of “Jamming 101” is titled the TEN JAMMANDMENTS

Here is the introduction to that chapter….

When Sid Lewis finally reached the summit of Mount Banjai, he was greeted with a roaring voice, kind of like the tone of Ralph Stanley only much louder. “I am the twang and the pluck of all the heavens” it roared. “And I have brought you safe from the evils of rock and roll and the boredom of Irish jams!”

And Sid was then given the Ten Jammandments, and told to go forth and spread them amongst the impure and the tone deaf…

Now that’s a bit of an exaggeration, but in truth Sid has elbowed his way into a lot of jams, party’s and RV’s to collect the jewels of jamming wisdom he calls the Ten Jammandments.

The humble picker who keeps the Jammandments in his or her heart, and strays not from the Path of Proper Picking will be rewarded with many invitations back to jams.

Here is an example of one of the Ten Jammandments:


“You shall always listen to everyone else”

In Jamming 101 we have what we call the third ear. While our two ears are usually fastened to our own instrument, our third ear (when finally opened!) remains trained on the other jammers. Most of us assume we hear the whole picture, when in fact to focus on the playing of others requires a surprising degree of effort. This Jammandment also covers the idea of not just listening, but always remaining alert to all the cues of a music circle, such as looks, call outs and any attempt at communication. Jamming is about the sum total, not the individual. Hmmmm, we wonder what else this could apply to…

Well, that’s it for today folks…..wait a minute…News Flash… Jamming 101 is going to
be part of the 2008 CBA Music Camp!!

Thank you Sid for contributing to today’s column and for the incredible resource you are
providing to the bluegrass community!

Till the next time……

Posted:  1/20/2008

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