Author: Sargent, Geoff


I guess you could say that jamming is a little like a communicable disease that we can’t immunize against. There is no protection against catching it and no treatments once you have the bug. Oh sure, you can slather on the hand sanitizer, wear a surgical mask (which would improve the scenery for some jams), insist on useless antibiotics from your physician, or swim in chicken soup but ultimately none of that will prevent you from getting the affliction and at most will just delay the inevitable. The only thing one can do to avoid catching the disease is STAY AT HOME and play with your radio, itunes collection, or if you are really old, I mean really, really decrepitly old (unlike me who is decrepitly middle aged….I’ll never be old), you might put on an LP to play along with. For me, staying at home is not an option. I’ve always been looking outwards and just can’t help myself to go out and explore. My mom likes to tell the story that she knew I was going to be a traveller early on because I was taking off from the moment I could crawl. I can remember the trouble I used to get in by disappearing for hours just to see where a trail went…..seemed normal to me and I never could figure why my parents would get so upset because I lost track of time and distance.
The funny thing is that I caught the jam bug before I knew how to play, the germs must have been lurking in the airwaves. Ok that last bit is only partially true. When I was playing jazz back in my decrepit youth, I always wanted a chance to play solos but never did because I didn’t know how to create one… I never took the chance. But, my first bluegrass jam opened my eyes and ears, and I quickly understood that bluegrass, in one respect, was way more evolved than jazz because, well hell because if we could create songs that were only and all breaks, then we would….come to think of it we do and they’re called fiddle tunes.

We are in the so-called “festival doldrums”, that part of the year where we are all supposed to be woodshedding and waiting for those first winter festivals to bridge over to spring. But, what I am discovering is that the doldrums are just the right excuse for some folks to host really kicking jams. My calendar is getting pretty full with jam possibilities and boy it looks like these jams are to die for……sweet high level jams with some of the best players in the area…..fertile ground for me to go plant my face and nice soft soil to crash and burn into. My dobro and I will sally forth, and like Evil Knievel, will try to do some amazing things, high in the air, without safety nets and provide the opportunity for groans and laughter with spectacular crashes. Jams…you gotta love them. So yesterday I drove 2 hours east just for the opportunity to play in a sweet, sweet jam and next week, down the coast a little ways to be part of an annual jam that is regularly shut down by the local constables. Oh and did I mention that Batso the wonder dog gets to go to both……he is somewhat less enthusiastic about the music but beside himself with the opportunity to score on edibles.

I’m posting a little late this morning. I just got off the road from a jam what lasted until the wee hours and rather than driving back at 1AM, I tossed my sleeping bag on the floor and got a little sleep. Thankfully my jam comrades didn’t snore or at least I was so zonked that I didn’t hear. Unfortunately Batso the wonder dog was not so considerate and woke everyone up this morning with his painfully loud, brain shaking, barks just because the day was so beautiful and we were wasting playtime. Sorry Diana!
Posted:  1/20/2013

Copyright © 2002 California Bluegrass Association. All rights reserved.
Comments? Questions? Please email