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The Jam Session

Posted by fiddleflapper on Tuesday, August 4, 2015

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It is pretty rare to find a place that nourishes your musical ability and teaches you a new language in life together. When I used to give lessons to kids back in Ava Missouri, I would try and convince their parents to bring them to a good jam session. There were many around and some were more forgiving than others.

The jam session, or jamboree sessions originally, were very typical in southern Missouri and it offered a way for people to develop their musical skills and hone their timing and anticipation capabilities. It was also about friendships. These jam sessions created a way to have a common interest and spend time with family and friends. 

So in my thoughts, a jam sessions teaches you a language. It drives how to start a conversation, how to end, how to let someone know when you're changing "Gears" or key's, it teaches a person how to anticipate a change in the progression, and more importantly, it teaches you what the other person is like. Do these people like fast tunes, do they like slow tunes, do they like to sing or only play instrumental tunes? Can you interact with them outside of music? And, there are an endless number of other things people can learn from you, simply by setting down and picking a tune together. Subconsciously, I believe they do, most cant put it into words.

For me, McClurg was a "town" that wasnt really a town at all, just a spot on a map and three or four houses spread about a little area with an old feed store in the middle. The feed store has been closed and no longer provided gas, feed, food, groceries, or mail services, but it was a very valuable place. It was the location of a grand jam session that has been talked about from CBS with Harry Smith to NPR's State of the Re:Union and New York Times as well as an article I wrote for Missouri Life Magazine. It was a place where Bob Holt played regular and even on two occasions, I played music with James Bryan who played with Norman Blake! What a treat! 

I created a Facebook Page back in 2011 to get folks interested and the page took off like a rocket! You will have hours of video watching here and thankfully I designated admins to run it now that I live in Alaska!

McClurg has generated some great old-time musicians! Everyone understood the level of playing there was superb yet, no one would have prevented a beginner from sawing out a little old joe clark. For me, it was my beginning in old-time music. It is what took me from a simple guitar and harmonica player to a musician that could play guitar, banjo, fiddle, mandolin and more with pretty much any old time jam crowed I wanted to! 

McClurg is and always will, hold a special place in my heart. The people, the music, and the place.



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