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A Rebellion at the last Easton Oldtime Varmint Jam

Posted by bj on Saturday, March 31, 2012

Some of our jammers play in both the bluegrass and oldtime styles. And one of the biggest differences between them is that oldtime is, more often than not, crosstuned. Yes, there are OT players who don't crosstune, and regions, like Allegheny style, that don't crosstune. But in general much OT is played in crosstuning. And our jam has always been a crosstuned and play in unison jam.

When we have a lot of 'grassers who show up, I will occasionally have to remind them that we're a crosstuned circle and could they please not start tunes in a key different than what our instruments are tuned to. This comes with the territory, and we do try to be inclusional but we also hope people are considerate. I'll never chase away a banjo with a resonator (though I did initially have my doubts about the electric bass, and voiced them!) And if someone doesn't want to crosstune it's okay, as long as they respect the folks who do.

This last jam there was a very unlikely rebel. Rick Carlson, who is (usually) one of my fave jammers, kept starting tunes in other keys and didn't crosstune all night. This is unusual. Though he doesn't normally crosstune for D, and that's expected, this time he didn't crosstune for A. And even worse, he kept starting tunes in keys other than the one we were IN, which was easy for him since he was in standard tuning. John Updike, our banjo for the evening, was no help either, he kept playing along whenever Rick would start a tune in G when we were playing in A. John runs the bluegrass jam up in East Stroudsburg, so he's one with a foot in both camps.

It was a fun but frustrating night for me, especially since we had a couple new jammers and I didn't want to let my Italian Steam off in front of our new guests. And Rick was very flippant when I gently chided him.

The first wave to start the exodus for the door usually happens between 9 and 10, with the hardcore players usually staying until 11 and sometimes later. Our new guests were in the first wave. Rick and John are hardcore. So when it was just us hardcore regulars I brought the subject up and expressed my frustration with Rick's behavior.

And found out the reason.

Somehow he ended up with a couple sets of Dominants. Past experience had taught him that Dominants die a quick death when crosstuned.

If I can afford it I think I'll buy him a nice gift-- a set of STEEL STRINGS. Do you think that'll be enough of a HINT?????


9 comments on “A Rebellion at the last Easton Oldtime Varmint Jam”

richdissmore Says:
Saturday, March 31, 2012 @8:04:27 AM

that could work but the other person has to be willing to change there way some grassers are hard core and woun,t change my guss you will have to say this is a old time jam rigth from the start and not ofend this is what were playing old time if you want to play blue grass sorry you may have to go some place that has what you want to play. we have one person that likes red lable strings and woun,t change to a better brand she is very good but her choise of string what can you say i offered to buy a better brand no way is what i,m toldwill try a set of strings if that don,t work then play with out him

mudbug Says:
Saturday, March 31, 2012 @12:36:20 PM

Of course you were at loggerheads. At the jam, he had to exert his Dominants, which made you cross (tuned).

bj Says:
Saturday, March 31, 2012 @12:44:09 PM

He sure had me seeing Red (Labels).

Humbled by this instrument Says:
Saturday, March 31, 2012 @3:07:48 PM

You were kind of in a jam, sounds like.

FiddleJammer Says:
Sunday, April 1, 2012 @7:05:29 AM

Regardless of string type, or instrument, or favorite tune, or whatever, if the jam format is clearly stated, all players should fall into line. The one exception I can think of is if there are no banjos. I'm happy enough to play out of standard in G or C. But not D or A. Sorry.

Humbled by this instrument Says:
Sunday, April 1, 2012 @9:59:01 AM

Maybe you need to lay down the law from the get-go, for although it seems we're gonna have to live with these troublesome 'grassers nowadays, we know they can be difficult to control at times; henceforth, yell at the outset: "Listen up! We're here to have a good OLD TIME! That means we CROSS tune, even when we're happy. We will key'p to one key, always, unless we change. Don't make me have to kick your grass!"

bj Says:
Sunday, April 1, 2012 @1:46:18 PM

Well, actually, the 'grassers just (happily!) went along with Rick Carlson, Old Time Rebel.

chippyvan Says:
Monday, April 2, 2012 @8:27:50 AM

Sorry BJ, didn't mean to piss you off.

bj Says:
Monday, April 2, 2012 @1:16:33 PM

You're forgiven as long as you don't do it ever again.

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