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Well, it looks like I'm starting an OT jam in Easton

Posted by bj on Saturday, January 24, 2009

If any of you have been following my blogposts or forum posts at all, you know that there isn't a lot of Oldtime being played in Easton PA. There's a monthly jam in Bethlehem, but that's about it. Everything else is an hour away.

I do feel I need to play with other people more than once or twice a month though. I  NEED  IT. I won't get better quicker unless it happens.

So I've tried the local monthly bluegrass jam, and yeah, there's some crossover stuff being played, but theres also all that dang break crap. I love the people though, and there's a lot of talent there. I always learn something, and I usually have a fair bit of fun. But the flip side of that is I get kinda squirrelly in the noggin when I hear too much of that twangy stuff, the newer stuff, though I like the old stuff okay. As to what's being played, that varies. I've been mostly lucky, but sometimes it's more twangy than otherwise. And I'm sorry, but when I hear some dude who I know is from Allentown PA and normally speaks with a bit of the dutchy coming through start talking in what he thinks is a Nashville Tennessee accent, I have to restrain myself from grabbing a beer bottle to bean him with. So yeah, I'll go to the BG jam, but I reallyreallyreally want to play OLDTIME.

Finally, in desperation, I put an ad on Craigslist looking for people to play Oldtime. Well, that was two days ago, and I now have a guitarist and bass player ready to meet  up with me. The guitarist plays mostly Irish Trad now, and actually runs an Irish Trad jam I didn't know about, but he used to play oldtime back in the 70's and said he's up for it. And he doesn't mind working with a novice fiddler. YAY! The bass player comes from a bluegrass background, but has always had an interest in Oldtime. He plays guitar too.

We'll probably be getting together later next week. I'm going to put together a tunelist in the next couple days to send them.

I'm ecstatic I finally have folks to play with. I'm also petrified that I'll screw this first jam up so badly that these guys will play with me once and then I'll never hear from them again.

Any suggestions other than to ply them with lotsa beer so I sound good to them no matter what?


25 comments on “Well, it looks like I'm starting an OT jam in Easton”

Rene Says:
Saturday, January 24, 2009 @5:02:31 PM

Good for you girl. Your brave, but I know you'll do good. Let me know how it goes.

brya31 Says:
Sunday, January 25, 2009 @6:56:04 AM

Yay bj, you finally are gonna go for it! Ive never been to an OT jam, I wish I lived near ya. Heck I would love to see the playlist for an OT jam, the jam here is bluegrass, so they rarely get to much music that I can associate with. Please make sure you keep us updated!

bj Says:
Sunday, January 25, 2009 @7:02:53 AM

Well, in this case it's gonna be the blind leading the blind!

Just got an email from another person who plays hammer dulcimer and electric bass. Which means if everyone shows up we're now officially too big to have it in my tiny house! So I gotta go venue hunting.

FiddleCat Says:
Sunday, January 25, 2009 @10:13:22 AM

Ok.. how come I wasn't invited???????

Kidding :O)

Ya know I plan on having Jams here at my house come spring again, untill then it's just go where ya can. Your talking venue hunting. You can always ask your friend from the Wild Flower. Or you could try local clubs, like the VFW or Gun Clubs. If you become a member (usually need to know someone to join) and ask if it's ok, as long as they have the room and quiet space for it I bet they say yes.

bj Says:
Sunday, January 25, 2009 @10:19:28 AM

Dee, you WILL be invited as soon as we have a time and place!

My neighbor Christine is talking to some of the bar and art gallery owners. She's well connected, and thinks she can come up with something. I hope she's right!

carlb Says:
Sunday, January 25, 2009 @10:53:51 AM

You might try other listings which old time musicians often look at:
in Google groups:

If you haven't, you should list your event in both Fiddle and Banjo Hangout, under events.

There's also a list serve for the greater Delaware Valley around Philadelphia. I know there are some people from Northern Jersey. If you'd like me to post it for you, I'd be willing to do so. Just send me the details or join yourself. Just email to address below.
It hasn't been very active of late, but all the members will get what ever is posted.

You could also make up a flyer which I think you might be able to leave at Godfrey's (I'm assuming that's the old jam in Bethlehem you mentioned).


carlb Says:
Sunday, January 25, 2009 @10:54:52 AM


Let's try again and see if it shows up.


FiddleJammer Says:
Sunday, January 25, 2009 @11:38:57 AM

Yeah, you need a banjo player!

FiddleJammer Says:
Sunday, January 25, 2009 @11:42:03 AM

OT tunelist here...

bj Says:
Sunday, January 25, 2009 @11:42:47 AM

LOL! Yeah, we need a banjo player! Jane may decide to come up once in awhile, once I get this going,but it's far for her. I did look on BHO and there are only two Easton members, and neither is active. I didn't look at surrounding towns though. The banjo players who come to Godfrey Daniels are all from points north and west of there, so whether they'll wanna come further is a crapshoot. You can always move down this way Terri!

bj Says:
Sunday, January 25, 2009 @11:44:09 AM

Thanks for the tunelist Terri, but right now, since I'm the only fiddler, it's going to be a short one limited to tunes I actually KNOW. ;-)

FiddleJammer Says:
Sunday, January 25, 2009 @12:38:42 PM

You know how I say "never be afraid to start a tune you don't know." :-)

Another reason for broadening the area of announcing a jam is because there's a slight chance that travelers might be in the neighborhood. I can't speak for Easton in particular, but when I was a civil servant, emphasis on servant, I would look for jams in the vacinity of where I'd be working and plan my jaunts accordingly.

bj Says:
Sunday, January 25, 2009 @12:46:18 PM

LOL! Yeah, but as it stands right now, there are only 1 1/2 truly OT players, and the rest are "interested" but don't know much. So we have to get this off the ground first. Which means at least getting started with tunes I know. Once we attract a few more folks who actually KNOW OT tunes, then I'll be the first to start a bunch of tunes I only half know, since that's the majority of what I play!

Rene Says:
Sunday, January 25, 2009 @1:04:07 PM

We had a non musical get together at our house a while back, predictions were for a nice sunny warm rained so we stacked them in the house (teeny tiny house) I think there was even an uncle sitting on the toilet (lid closed of course). Moral of story is, they won't mind a small house as long as there is good music and the fiddler's have enough room to pull the bow. Have fun.

janepaints Says:
Sunday, January 25, 2009 @4:27:40 PM

BJ, I'll try to attend whenever $, time and other factors permit. Staying over always makes such trips easier--I worry about car breakdowns at midnight along the bleaker stretches of River Road (ar ANY road) between here and Easton. Seems easier when things go kerflooey at 9 am, in daylight. ESPECIALLY when it's this durn cold.

janepaints Says:
Sunday, January 25, 2009 @4:31:24 PM

Addenda: it's not THAT far--35 miles or so? Dang if there was 4-lane highway between here and Easton, as-the-crow flies, it would be a snap--a half hour drive. But there ain't.
Hey are the other folks day-employed? If not we could have such jams at noon! I'm a huge fan of daylight. Less vampires floating around.

bj Says:
Sunday, January 25, 2009 @4:37:42 PM

Actually, most of the folks prefer daytime. But it's also going to be venue dependent. Seems I've attracted more people than my house can comfortably hold! I'm aiming for "happy hour" hours, say 4-7, so those that do work the 9-5 shift might be able to catch at least a few tunes with us. And it won't be much longer before it starts to stay light until after 7, so not as bad a drive home for you, if you do decide to drive back.

Yeah, that 35 miles is an hour's drive. I know. I used to do it every wednesday, remember? Of COURSE you're welcome to stay over! Though my cat tends to like to tease the stranger so you might not get much sleeping done. :-)

janepaints Says:
Sunday, January 25, 2009 @7:56:37 PM

that's ok. i'm a 'cat person' and love sleeping with kitties curled up somewhere on (or near) the bed, even when they do the 'bomp the human on the nose just for the heck of it at 3 am' stuff....that's partially how i know i'm a cat person--such stuff seem like understandable impish fun. I sure plan to to do such hi-jinks when i become a cat!

robinja Says:
Wednesday, January 28, 2009 @3:09:07 PM

LOL, Jane! We left our new kitties at home for the first time while we went out of town for a few days, and they actually re-arranged some of our furniture while we were gone! Kitty hi-jinks to the max - a superior life form, for sure!

BJ - The only advice that I have for you is to have fun and don't get too concerned about perfection. If you all like each other and have fun playing together, it really doesn't matter whether you mess up the B part of Mississippi Sawyer or whether the guitar player chucks when he should boom. (I am very guilty of not following this advice - I get fairly nervous any time I'm the only fiddler at a jam; there's lots of OT fiddlers in Atlanta, so I usually get to hide behind someone better, at least on tunes where I'm not as confident. )

The tune list is a good idea, I ran across a chord chart for common old time tunes here, which might help:

bj Says:
Wednesday, January 28, 2009 @3:29:34 PM

Oh, that chord chart helps a LOT! FYI, a couple of them were in different keys than they're usually played, like Bonaparte's Retreat for one.

I've started a Webpage here with the tunelist. It's a bit sparse, but should be enough for the first jam, I should think. It's all the ones I know reallyreally well. I do know quite a few others, but these are the ones I have down cold and feel some confidence in.

Comments welcome.

brynmawr Says:
Thursday, January 29, 2009 @8:15:29 AM

bj, that is very neat!! I am envious. I have been learning some Irish tunes with the help of "fiddle4u". He has a YouTube channel and numerous videos... so I am starting there... and also continuing with my Scottish fiddling(I do really love it... but I also want to be able to play with more people so I want to learn some other idioms like Irish an hopefully OT).

Oldtimefiddler Says:
Thursday, January 29, 2009 @12:42:28 PM

Hey Bj,
Thanks for commenting on my page. I think its a great Idea starting a Jam...Its an idea I had too. Though there are jams already going on around me, most of them are old country and not really OT. I do play at an almost Strictly OT jam in McClurg Missouri and most of the time its just fiddle music. Occasionally though you'll get someone from the Branson area come down there and try to "Show us up" but they just play fast and dont really have much character to the music...much less it being OT.

bj Says:
Thursday, January 29, 2009 @12:57:25 PM

Yeah, Oldtimefiddler, it's been frustrating. I'm not exactly the "leader" type, but geez, if no one else will do it, then the only way it'll happen is if I do it.

Curt57 Says:
Thursday, January 29, 2009 @2:59:52 PM

Hmmmm let's see. Guitarist, bass, fiddle, banjo.... oh yeh, don't forget a mandolin player.

bj Says:
Thursday, January 29, 2009 @3:40:57 PM

LOL! I'll take what I can get!

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