Steve's List of Songs and embellishments

Delighted to list the sum-up-ons from our very own Steve Ruzansky who along with his fine fiddle playing manages to keep a smile on his face, and a record of the songs and tunes we played at our regular Wednesday Night Jam to share with us these memorable and often uplifting evenings of pure joy.

March 29, 2018

  A jam-packed Doylestown Jam last night, with 19 (!) enthusiastic pickers. And, as usual, some new faces in the bunch, all welcome. Not only that, but Don was able to coordinate playing bass with Kim, so that the evening was less of a stamina-issue, as too often is the case. 
      So, to our email list newbies (as well as to all), note that, if the key that the song was done in isn't mentioned, then it's in the key of G - or it was done whilst I was in my all-too-frequent clueless mode. 
    Also worth mentioning is that all addenda, comments, and opinions expressed in all my email song lists are subject to my own personal love of whimsy.  Feel free to disagree, reject, and/or find fault (I'm used to it).  But my intent is mainly to help make our jamming more enjoyable and cooperatively structured. As those of you who attend festivals (Wilmington Wintergrass Festival, e.g.) know, the higher the level of picking, the more etiquette-conscious the jam is. 

Big Sciota    (I hate it when I get to the jam just in time to miss this great song - which seems to be the opening D'Jam song. Argh!) 
No Hidin' Place Down Here   (Guitar Rich offered up this fine gospel tune) 
Old Spinning Wheel   C   (Mando/guitar/banjo Jay's difficulty in remembering the name of this song affirmed that I'm not the only one who gets brain-freeze). 
Walkin' the Dog   A   (This song is usually done in G, but since Harmonica Jim was the singer, he called it in A, which prompts me to encourage capo-free soloists  to be open to doing songs in different-that-usual keys. Of course, for those who regularly choose the key of E or Bb: "There's No Hidin' Place Down There" ...... argh!) 
Clinch Mt. Backstep     A    (This song, usually done by D'Jam pickers with precision and flair, instead precipitated a jam breakdown/train wreck of EPIC proportions! With the size of the jam so large, it was suggested that, for probably the first time ever for us, that we "split the breaks" - one picker does the A-part, the next do the B-part, and so on. As simple as that plan was, we all found a way to be totally amnesiac about what was the A-part and what was the B-part. Even now, I can't quite recall what specifically started the song to implode, but by the end, my brain felt like I had just been in the middle of the Running of the Bulls in Pamplona, Spain. Wow! 
Foggy Mt.Special    (One of the most popular bluegrass 12-bar blues songs. What fun! 
Cherokee Shuffle  A  (Another ace jam instrumental, though I heard it called as the "Paternity Shuffle".........gotta get my hearing checked....) 
Southern Flavor  Em  (We can't play this song without me thinking of Cello Nico - and how we miss him whilst he's away at college) 
Lord, Give Me Just a Little More Time  (Truly!) 
Sittin' on Top of the World    (I more than matched Jay's brain freeze in trying to remember both the title and tune of this very familiar song) 
Wreck of the Old 97    D  (New-to-the-jam Mando Lee sang this historically true chestnut, from whence the tongue-in-cheek pop folk songs MTA and SuperSkier came) 
Most Every Weekend   (Lee's buddy Nathan on tenor guitar (?) offered up this fine song) 
Monkey and the Engineer   (Joe, Lee and Nathan's buddy, sang this very whimsical saga) 
Steampowered Aereoplane   (Fiddler Jim's call, which I tried to do at various WWF jams, but NO-ONE could do it! Wow. I take it as a compliment to our jam repertoire) 
Nine Pound Hammer  A  (Another example of a song done usually in G but Vince called and sang in A; great practice in non-capo versatility, as previously mentioned) 
Love of the Mountain  A  (Bassist Don sang this beauty) 
Sing Me Back Home  (One of the bestest, most poignant BG songs ever borrowed/commandeered from Country music) 
Down Yonder A  (Jay called this great one in A, though most do it in G; I couldn't do it in EITHER key on fiddle - yet - but this morning while working on it, I found that I personally preferred it in A. Just warning you all .....) 
    * then Bert and I headed home as Harmonica Jim was offering up a gospel song. 

Comments: Some thoughts and requests for when a jam is of especially epic numbers (in no particular order): 
    1) Even with smaller jam numbers, communication is important. With a large jam, it's absolutely critical. Let the song leader - and the person after you - clearly know your break status (eye contact, nod of yes, nod of no). I've seen too many pickers try valiantly to find out if the "nose-in-strings picker before him/her is taking a solo, only to be ambushed with having to jump into a solo several beats after its start because said catatonic picker didn't take the break. Consider this to be one of my main pet jam-peeves! 
    2) If you are NOT EVER a soloist, consider sitting outside of the inner jam circle, especially if circle space is limited. Guitar Bert is particularly gracious about this. But with this, try not to play into the ear of the picker in front of you ..... especially if you are a background banjo picker.    :-0 
    3) Conversely, if you are a regular soloist, please find a place in the inner circle. This makes it less confusing all around as to giving and sending signals. 
    3) If inner circle jammers come late, try hard to find a space for them. Move over or move back, but find a way to include! Last night, I saw room thoughtfully being made for Mando Tom and Guitar Mark, which made the flow of solo picking SO much clearer. And so warmed my heart.....

 

March 14, 2018   

A rowdy bunch of 15 BG pickers gathered downstairs at The Club (2nd Wednesdays have regular board meetings upstairs). Good music and minimal sanity prevailed. After I had a bit of a "tilt" with my Yuenglings, Vince asked the rhetorical question: What is the difference between a fiddle and a violin?  His answer: Nobody gets upset when you spill beer on a fiddle! (da noive!)      Gee whiz, nobody makes fun of Kim and her upright bass (maybe it's because she's the hard-working MVP of our jams!) 

Cherokee Shuffle  A 
Big Sciota  (wonderfully sung by Jude) 
St. Anne's Reel  D 
Lonesome Pines 
Red Wing 
Southern Flavor  Em 
Old Joe Clark  A 
Frozen  D 
Panhandle Rag  D 
Sweet Sue 
Foggy Mt. Special 
Steampowered Aereoplane 
Salt Spring  A  (interesting new song introduced by Vince) 
Salt Creek  A 
Salty Dog Blues  (What's wit da "salt" songs....?) 
Sailors Hornpipe  (an "old salt" type song ..... Go, Popeye, Go!) 
Blackberry Blossom 
Bill Cheatum  A 
Sing Me Back Home  A 
  ..... and then Bert and I, thoroughly exhausted from the oh-so-lively jam, headed home whilst the jam continued. 

Warning - Long Comment: 

 FESTIVAL SEASON IS A-COMIN' ..... starting with the Wilmington Wintergrass Festival. I've been pushing this wonderful indoor festival because it's both a really good venue, but it's also a gathering of the area's most enthusiastic pickers. So as I encourage you to "soak up the atmosphere", let me expound on my own humble ideas and suggestions of "How Beginner and Intermediate Pickers Can Get the Best Out of This  Bluegrass Festival - and most other BG Festivals": 
    1. Try not to be intimidated by the amazing talent of our local and featured - pickers. Not easy, especially when the talent, for example, is an eight-year-old-wunderkind who can pick the lights out of a banjo/mando/guitar et al. Many of us are late bloomers and/or are late to our instruments (at age 70, I'm at the end of only my second year of fiddling ... so much still to learn!!!!!). And be open to realize that many attendees are (more quietly) dealing with their own beginner's challenges. Dat's life!  ... of course, it helps to have experience with our own jam's core of awesome musicians. 
     2. Be sure to observe the different kinds of jam groups. The high level ones (usually consisting of five or so pickers standing in a hallway) can be as good or better than some stage acts. Enjoy and feel free to compliment them (in a manner, of course, that is "bluegrass cool" - whatever that is....). 
      3. And in the more formal "guided" jam room in the basement, you'll see more basic jamming. And in some cases, you'll see that not everyone "gets" the basics of jamming as well as others do. You may very well encounter pickers whose call may be something like their fave song from the movie "La La Land", likely a good song, but one that is also likely a "jam-buster" that has everyone else chord/melody-clueless while the picker is absorbed in his/her momentary glory. Or you might encounter a number of what I call "guitar thwompers", who have no realization of the fact that they are completely drowning out vocalists and less "obstreperous" instruments. And you can appreciate how classic our own (learning) jam's structure and balance is (yes, we can pat ourselves on the back, here..). 
     4. Many jammers end up jamming with the same people they jam with weekly. Not surprising. It's safer and more familiar - both in songs and personalities. Nevertheless, come prepared to jam with strangers, just in case. What that may entail is being ready on your turn to call a basic jam tune that others can join in (vs the aforementioned "jam-buster" issue). Most of the more experienced jam veterans will be quite gracious in supporting you (especially if you are under eleven years old or if you are a very cute female......). 
     5. Seek opportunities to learn a new run or interesting riff from someone who looks approachable. Most pickers consider this a compliment (though a picker at a jam once gave me a "what a moron!" look when I asked about a certain banjo chord he used - more HIS problem than mine, I figure). Maybe even bring a pen and pad to write down names of songs and contacts/whatever that you might wish to follow up with. And, as someone told me many years ago, if you ask a "how do you do this" question and someone takes the time to (clearly) show you, be sure to learn it as best as you can. Otherwise, you're wasting their time and yours..... 
     6. Check out the workshops. Some can be merely for the experience (many professional/naturally talented pickers aren't really very good teachers - especially in a class with 25 pickers of varied skills), but if you can pick up just one good piece of advice, it may be well worth it. At most of the workshops, they have full-fledged professionals from the "big stage" bands doing workshops. At the least, it's a fascinating insight into the life and perspectives of full-time bluegrass professionals. 
      7. Enjoy the stage bands (there's two at Wintergrass). Don't forget to listen/support our local bands (e.g. Flint Hill Special on Friday), but also to catch some of the established and/or up-and-coming national bands on the Main Stage. Some amazing talent to be able to see live! 
      8. Bring money to buy CDs and supplies (and meals...). A newish WAWA is across the street, a restaurant/bar is in the hotel, and a snack bar is downstairs. And don't forget the Total Wine oasis....... 
      9. And most of all, be sure to enjoy the tremendous fellowship to be found at a festival. Get to know your regular jam-buddies better, as well as get to know the also-wonderful folks from other local jams. I've never met a picker I didn't like (though of course, I never met Bill Monroe......). 

And feel free to add or contradict anything I've said on this topic here, if so moved. Hope to see ya's in Wilmington!

 

 

 March 1, 2018

 Well, on the way home from the jam last night, I realized that I'd been having so much fun that I had forgotten to count how many jammers were there. So, in retrospect, I figure about 15 pickers attended. We jammed in the upstairs "party room" and were fortunate to have Kim Kreider doing her support stuff on the bass. 
    To rephrase a jest from Virginia, our esteemed autoharpist, I was the best fiddler in the room! The ONLY one! C'mon, Fiddler Cousins, get thee to the Jam!. Also evident was the limited number of banjos. Ben and (occasionally) Jay. Wow, have times changed from when we would have as many as ten or more banjos at the jam! I would bring my banjo to the jams, but Cindy and I keep it outside, leaning right near the front door so that prospective home robbers can clearly see that there is/was a banjo picker living there - and thus there are absolutely no moneys or valuables inside worth burglarizing.... 

Deep Elem Blues  D  (Guitar Vince kicked off the jam with this great song, also doing a fine job singing the lyrics) 
Sweet Sue    (Jay's call while he played his mando; ya gotta keep an eye on him 'cause suddenly he's playing banjo or guitar .... sheesh!) 
Shady Grove  Em  (My call - because I have been working diligently on an exotic fiddle part ..... that I entirely forgot soon as I started .....Maybe next time.....) 
Make It Back to Memphis  E  (Newbie Guitar Rich did a fine job with this county classic ....... in the key of E-gads!) 
Nine Pound Hammer   (Rich's friend Nick, also a Newbie, nicely sang this chestnut with his mando accompanying him) 
St. Anne's Reel  D  (Not sure, but I think Mando Tom called and led this popular and perky fiddle tune) 
Bill Bailey   (Jude and Ben "ambushed" us with this classic blues (?) number; what fun!) 
Walkin' the Dog   (Ben's call on a song honoring Philly Fred's presence; Jim sang it and I happily had the opportunity to sing harmony) 
Bluegrass Breakdown  (Mando Steve's call; a great tune that we did way back in the early days of the D'Jam) 
Old Gospel Ship  (Harmonica Jim's call that offered smooth sailing for all) 
Gonna Lay Down My Old Guitar D  (Vince is doing much more singing at the jam, which is a benefit to all; love this song!) 
Kim's 12-Bar Blues in G  (Pure improvisation encouraged here; any unintended notes may be safely labeled as  "jazz variations"...) 
Lady Be Good  (One of the late Ed Pollak's favorites; somebody really needs to learn the lyrics - especially if Jay keeps calling it..) 
Steampowered Aereoplane  (I really wanted to do Southern Flavor, but Ben twisted my arm to do this ... didn't take a whole lot of twisting .......) 
Big Sciota   (Great new-ish jam song for us; can't recall who called this one...by this time, we all were just jumpin' in with calls...) 
Freight Train   (Not in any way the "train wreck" that some people anticipated...until the not-very-organized ending.....) 
Clinch Mt. Backstep  A    (How can we have a jam without doing this one? ) 
Mom and Dad Waltz  A  (A new song from Jim that evidently reaches back to the times when he was jamming with Adam and Eve ...._) 
Cherokee Shuffle  A  (Lots of yawning pickers by this time, but not too tired to fire off this great one..) 
    ....and so the jam "officially" ended, though a couple of die-hards were doing East Tennessee Blues (C) as many of us were leaving. 

Note: I likely have offered up this in some earlier jam list email, but I do encourage us all - especially us rookie and intermediate pickers - to really listen to the music being played by all of us, but especially to listen to the many real pro's that we have been blessed to have as part of this jam. Doing a rough count of regular and less regular-attending ace pickers, I come up with six or more buddies in particular who are clearly high professional-caliber musicians  - who have performed as such at one time and/or are still performing so. And we mustn't let our own struggles and frustrations inherent with BG jamming get in the way of appreciating how they still continue to work at their craft: trying more-or-less risky new things so that they might continue to challenge themselves. And, as I have repeatedly found, they also see themselves as we do: on a journey of music that has no final destination (except for that Final Destination). And, as a tag related mention, know that I do listen to y'all with pleasure, and so often enjoy hearing (when you play loud enough ) different fellow pickers improve and jump up a notch in their jamming, whether it is instrument technique, vocal technique, or simply (!) introducing an interesting new piece of repertoire. Pick on!

February 15, 2018

 Twelve hearts and souls gathered together last night to pick downstairs in the bar on this Valentine's Day jam; the Billiards Alcove evidently is now passe. As always, a wonderful array and variety of songs were called. 

Someday Soon  C  (Jude kicked off the jam with this soulful Valentine-ish song) 

Big Sciota   (Fiddler Jim called this and Jude once again wowed us with actual lyrics to this song) 

Sweet Sue  (Jay's call continued the Valentine theme of the young evening; Banks of the Ohio definitely was not to be on the list!) 

Polka on the Banjo G/C (I called this cute and interestingly constructed Flatt and Scruggs chestnut; easy chords with A-part in G and the B-part in C; a keeper in progress) 

Sailors Hornpipe  (most of us crashed-and-burned on a VERY brief "voyage")) 

Blackberry Blossom   (Tom changed  his call to this speedy number) 

Clinch Mt. Backstep  A   (One of Ben's faves, played this time at a sane speed) 

I Can't Help If I've Fallen in Love with You  D  (Harmonica Jim's call of some such similar title; Jude had us in tears with this one .... or was it Jim's onion-y breath ......?) 

Red Haired Boy  A  (Warren actually kicked this one off at a speed that even I could do ..... Thanks, Warren!) 

Steampowered Aereoplane  (Fiddler Jim's call for this ecologically correct song-of-sorts) 

Old Friends  (Jude's call that reminds us of how grateful we are for her presence ..... even though she didn't bring us Valentine's Day candy.....) 

12-Bar Blues in G  (Thank goodness Bass Kim is challenging us with this bar-hopping special; much appreciated .... both Kim and the call) 

Old Spinning Wheel  C  (Jay's call that reminds many of us how old we are getting ........egad!) 

Everybody's Reaching Out for Someone  A  (My call that will reappear sometime again, but in the key of C) 

Southern (Bluegrass) Flavor  Em  (Tom's call that everyone graciously allowed me to sing my own original G-rated- lyrics; this song is unofficially a D'Town standard) 

Somewhere over the Rainbow  (Ben's call that we all did WAY better than we expected; Guitar Bert even had a munchin' munchkin-cat-that-ate-Toto look about him) 

Old Gospel Ship  (Harmonica Jim's call; a song that has the exact same melody as the A-part of Rabbit in a Log/Feast Here Tonight, but no B-part; Lordy, Lordy, Lordy) 

Whiskey before Breakfast  D  (Warren called this improper dietary-based song that's high in carbs) 

Panhandle Rag  D   (Fiddler Jim's call .... another good, though sappy Texas love song...) 

I Wonder How the Old Folks Are at Home   A  (..... probably asleep at the time; called and sung by Jude) 

    ...... and with that song, we all packed it in and headed home on a rainy evening. What fun! 

Note:  I've been more-or-less regularly practicing at home with a free metronome app on my iphone (it's about time!) and I think it really helps on a number of levels. Besides the obvious one of keeping me at a consistent speed, I think it helps me learn to play under pressure - especially as I (gradually) ramp up the BPMs.... though I found the the waltz's are really not all that tasteful at 220 BPMs .... At any rate (pun intended), I recommend it to newbies of all sorts (new songs, new instruments, new to jamming) despite my challenge of getting used to a constant beeping that isn't from my portable heart monitor....

 

February 8, 2018

Hello All, 

     I wish I could report that Eagles' tight end Zach Ertz showed up last night with a dobro in hand, ready to jam with us. Well..... no, he didn't, but one can hope..... Nevertheless, it was an evening of jamming, joking, and jawing. A small-ish group of eight pickers gathered, perhaps while all the rest of you were surely resting up for the Super Bowl celebration in Philly. Fly, Eagles, Fly ....... 

Queensland Drover  C  (Newbie Rick reprized this one from the last jam; next time we'll have him give us some solo breaks as we get to know the melody better) 

White Freightliner  C  (Karl, as usual, was full speed ahead with this one) 

Home Sweet Home  C  (Ben called this one - the 3rd straight tune in the key of C ! - at the beginning .... some of us were confused and almost went home right then and there....) 

Maiden's Prayer  A  (Fiddler Susan offered this beautiful tune up beautifully - and reminded me how my fiddle SHOULD sound. Someday .....) 

Dixie Breakdown  (I think it was Karl or Ben who called this old chestnut from the past - not to be confused with Dear Old Dixie; this one a wonderful challenge for those of us who are chronically digitally impaired....) 

Walkin' the Dog   (I called this one, but if I had known ahead of time that it would evoke such loud canine utterances from Susan, well .......) 

Road to Columbus  A  (Mando Steve's call; one of Bill Monroe's high-octane goodies) 

Roll in My Sweet Baby's Arms  (Rick's call, an old standard that Ed Pollak always wanted to avoid. We continue to miss you, Ed) 

Karl's 12-Bar Blues   (One more example of how Karl pushes us to expand our musical chops....Was this the one where Guitar Bert did an fine instrumental???) 

Dueling Banjos  (Ben and Karl let loose on this one, with the rest of us eventually joining in ... gotta do this one more often) 

Catfish John    (One of Ben's favorites - oh, how he can do the harmony on this one!) 

Bluegrass Stomp (Mando Steve's goodie, and one that I do quite well at 95 beats per minute; unfortunately it was done at least at 155 BPM....) 

Sweet Sue  (Great oldie that prompted an in-depth sharing of other chord possibilities by Karl; WOW!) 

EMD  (aka Eat My Dust; not a particularly difficult Grisman song, and definitely a fun jam one to do again) 

Roadkill Cafe  (This is where Ukulele Phil took us over to the truly dark side...) 

Dead Skunk in the Middle of the Road  (and then Phil took us darker and darker....) 

Don't Slay that Potato  (While Rick continued the Aberrant Song Series with this lengthy number that knocked the starch out of us...) 

Note A: There might have been one more song, but I suspect my mind shut down at that point from such esoteric cuisine-embellishing selections....while reminding us all that the D'Jam is once again doing the entertainment for the February 24th Delaware Valley University Wildlife Society annual dinner - 7:00 at the Delaware Valley University in Doylestown; dinner provided for pickers (but not for picky eaters). Let Ben know if you are planning on joining in on the fun. 

Note B: A warning! Some new songs on my personal list of "new material to be introduced to the jam" (I'm SUCH a goal-setter!): Rocky Top (key of C - though if I wear real tight pants, I can almost do it in G ... but plan on C...), Polka on the Banjo (G for verse, C for chorus - or vice versa ... whatever) and some other surprises (potential catastrophes?) I'm working on ..... but know that I plan to provide possibly-helpful chord charts for our loyal rhythm guitar pickers - for a small fee........).   ;-)   And don't forget to work on Dueling Banjos.... 

Note C: There seems to be lots of new and continued bluegrass jams in this extended DelVal area, most of them once a month, many of them in the Wilmington, DE area. Ed Pollak's website seems to still be maintained by the Brandywine Folk Club (?). Check it out and let me know if any more sites/info are available that ought to be shared.

 

 

 

January 31, 2018

      Another wild and crazy ride/jam last night!  Twelve earnest pickers (TWO basses - Kim and Vince) and newbie Rick on guitar and mando. 

Blue Moon of Kentucky  A  (Karl called this one and made all Kentuckians SO proud). 

Sledd Ridin'  A  (Denny's call; REAL GLAD to have him hale and healthy again) 

Southern Flavor  Em  (my call; working on both lyrics and a new fiddle arrangement .... always an adventure for me) 

Big Sciota  (Jay's call on a song that is evidently quite popular in top jams throughout the country; the real question is HOW do you pronounce "Sciota"?!.... Does it matter?) 

Shuckin' the Corn  (Ben's call that had many of us shuckin' cobwebs away to try to remember this once-a-standard of earlier D'Jam Days) 

Cherokee Shuffle  A  (Fiddler Frederico's call; astonishing how quickly this Italian fellow from Ireland has embraced our bluegrass music; great addition to the jam) 

Queensland Drover (Newbie Rick's call; an olde Australian ballad that had us looking for kangaroos and koala bears under our chairs) 

I Know What It Means to Be Lonesome   (Guitar Vince's call; great job done by him on the vocal part, too) 

Fireball Mail   (Mando Steve called this, resulting in both Guitar Vince and Banjo Karl's awewome and totally unique duet on the vocals .... beyond words...) 

Old Joe Clark  A  (Bassman Vince's call, keeping us all on our tradition-based toes)(?) 

House of the Rising Sun  Am  (Karl's call; his downright bluesy intro took us a while to grok just what song he had called) 

Dooley  (Denny's call, reminding us that a still's waters run deep) 

June Apple  A   (my call and reminder (to me) that what sounds SO good at home...at the jam I find out how much more practice is needed... all part of the process) 

East Tennessee Blues  C (Jay's call - so that Tennessee wouldn't be jealous of Karl's attention to Kentucky....FYI, NOT sung by Karl and Vince ... especially since there's no lyrics!) 

FLY EAGLES FLY  (Called and recorded by Ben - so Sparky can put it on his Monday BG radio broadcast; y'all tune in, y'hear?) 

Whiskey before Breakfast  D  (Frederico's call, the title of which made sense after our treatment of the aforementioned cheer song....) 

State of Maine  (Rick shared this humorous long-dead-critters (northern) state song with us - a perfect match for Uke Phil's Dead Skunk and Roadkill Cafe songs) 

Billy in the Low Ground  (Guitar Vince called this mesmerizing mantra-like  tune about a boy valiantly trying to rise above it all) 

Shady Grove  Am (Mando Steve's call; I sang it and should remember to do it in Em to avoid sounding like a cat being viciously strangled....) 

Foggy Mt. Special  (A very special song called by Karl; also good practice for doing 12-bar blues?) 

Home Sweet Home  C  (Ben's one last call before having to head home - like a lot of us; such a fun Stephen Foster song) 

HOWEVER, several pickers insisted on continuing; Rumor has it that they chained themselves to their chairs and pledged to ONLY do prison and chain-gain songs until their parole was granted.... 

Note: As I often pore over past Jam song lists, I am reminded of the pickers who, to the best of my recollection, introduced certain special songs to the group. Once again, I started to make a list of who and what song(s) but was afraid to do so would leave deserving pickers out (I sure hope you know who you are!). Still, foremost in my mind are the many, many songs that (again, as I best recall), Ed Pollak brought into our jam: EMD, Sweet Sue, Over the Waterfall, Lady Be Good, Down Yonder, etc. (but DEFINITELY NOT Rolling in My Sweet Baby's Arms, nor Mountain Dew - put in a chuckle here, please). My point being that, as I practice and/or play many of the songs that are called at the jam, I almost always associate - and appreciate - those pickers who first dropped that particularly interesting song into our laps - often one that is/was overwhelmingly challenging, yet delightful to take on (Karl's Caravan HAS to be mentioned here!). I applaud our jam's willingness - and determination - to take on so many wonderfully difficult, interesting, and/or different kinds of songs, be they breakdowns, backsteps, rags, jigs, hornpipes, stomps, blues, shuffles, reels, waltzes, swings, Christmas carols, ballads....... and even sports songs..(Go Eagles!)..!

January 24, 2018

Hello All, 

Boisterous? Raucous? Vibrant?  How to describe last night's jam!  We had 19 pickers (17 to start and then joined by two welcome latecomers). And it worked! Several songs had split instrumentals and most songs were quite upbeat (as was the crowd).  

Our two latecomers are certainly notable: Fiddler Edgar rejoined our midst and his awesome skill always appreciated. Also a fiddler was Paul, a pastor who has been taking lessons from our very own Christie. It deserves notice that, despite the presence of the clergy, it was still a decidedly irreverent evening (get it?) - and I got the feeling that Pastor Paul wouldn't have had it any other way.  :) 

Also, to keep this email list more interesting (for me, at least), I may occasionally identify pickers by their song choices and/or notable (outrageous?) behavior. By first names and instrument of choice only, mainly because, by my rough calculations, about a third of our jammers are people who seem to be in various witness protection programs, so I will safeguard their full identities carefully (you know who you are ... and $ome arrangement$ for my continuing $ilence will be forthcoming...). And any complaints about inaccuracies or slander in the following list can be taken up with my 6'10'' 277 pound agent, George "I'll break youse fingers!" Margoliss.  A real sweetheart! 

 The Jam Song   (I got there too late for this one by Virginia, but evidently it was done in a variety of keys, which doesn't surprise me about our favorite Ginny....) 

Big Sciota   (Not sure who called this, maybe Fiddler Jim, though my bet is on Guitar Vince) 

Old Home Place   (I believe that Harmonica Jim called and sang this great number, enormously aided by his very cool Greek fisherman's cap) 

Banks of the Ohio  ( I believe that Jay-of-Many-Instruments called this one, the mando being the particular strings-of-choice at the time) 

Bluegrass Breakdown  D  (I called this very neat tune that I think Mando Steve introduced to the D'Jam some time ago; maybe I'll actually learn how to play it someday.....) 

Armadillo Breakdown   A   (Mando Steve brought this once-fave tune back from the D'Jams's bluegrass archives. ) 

Gold Rush  A  (Banjo Jim called this and Jay insisted that a song with such a title HAS to have a minor in it! .... Minor/miner ... get it? ... an "ouch", Jay, but a very clever "ouch") 

Clinch Mt. Backstep  A  (Banjo Ben called this great tune .... and our proud Jam Papa spent some time videotaping parts of the jam - now on FaceBook.) 

Nine Pound Hammer  A  (Guitar Vince called this one in the key of A - the fourth key of A in a row. And, oh, how happy the banjo pickers were to not have to retune ... as much!). 

Blue Ridge Cabin Home  (Banjo Denny, rebel that he is, ended the streak and called this G song; Good to have you back on board, Denny!) 

Red Wing  (I don't recall who called this fine tune; Hey, I'm over 70 years old .... can't remember everything!) 

I've Got That Old-Fashioned Love in My Heart  (called and sung sweetly by the sweet Virginia-of-the-long-titled-songs) 

12 Bar Blues in G   (a D'Jam original called by much-adored and unquestionably-appreciated bass player Kim) 

Wayfarin' Stranger  Em  (Banjo Karl cannily called this heart-rending tune when the pastor joined us ... almost keeping us honest) 

Sweet Georgia Brown F   (Was this called by Fiddler Jim in order to get in Sweet Virginia's good graces? Good Survivalist Move, Jim! ) 

Rough and Rocky   (Harmonica Jim called this tune, which describes the camping terrain of so many of our BG festivals) 

Farewell Blues  C   (Jay-now-a-banjo-picker called this because he wanted to see if Whiskers could keep stay on his fee during his always-intense mouth harp solos ....Nope!) 

Bartender's Blues   (I called this 'cause all the upbeat, happy numbers were getting me SO depressed...) 

Dear Old Dixie   (Mando Steve just went and RUINED my bad mood with this rollicking tune! Da noive!) 

Red Haired Boy  D  Fiddler Pastor Paul called this and did a d***n good job with it) 

Old Joe Clark  A   (Called by Fiddlin' Edgar, who mercifully chose this instead of some classical violin selection by a guy name Paganini.....) 

Angelina Baker  D   (WHERE WAS JUDE TO SING THIS WHEN WE NEEDED HER????) 

And then car poolers Bert, Karl, and I  (aka First-String Team ?) left while a few hardy jammers stayed to play Beaumont Rag (Black Mt. Rag?) and who knows what else.    

Oh, what a night!

January 10, 2018

Hello All, 

I wish that I could say that this jam list email is a bit late because I was oh-so busy practicing fiddle. Well, I was practicing fiddle, but life's other issues/demands inevitably popped up. Things that also prevented me from joining in on the MOM's Jam on Thursday night - which, like our regular Wednesday jams, sounds to have been awesome. I gotta get back  to one of those ...... 

And so, on this past Wednesday, the jam added to what has become such a regularly special evening of music and banter. Our rather large group of 15 seems to have gone through a record number of songs (29 - filling up both front and back of my notepad page for the first time ever and anywhere), even while ending at the rather "early" time of 10:15 or so. We started off the evening in the poolroom alcove (there was a board meeting upstairs) but the wonderful barkeep gal noticed how crowded it already was and invited us to spread out into the main room. Great move. Appreciative listeners at the bar....... Plus we had TWO (2) bass players! Rick (bass) and Dina (banjo) - and friend Mando Barry  -  who were in attendance after a hiatus (I'm not talking surgery here...), and Rick and Kim teamed up to form an awesome bass section (as did Bert, Phil, and Warren group themselves together a la guitar section). It reminded me of one of the Tippling Jams in Marcus Hook where the three fiddlers present (me, Cindy, and Barbara Wood) sat together and did pretty much all of our instrumental breaks together ... and it was SO much fun! Fiddlers Frederico and Jim and I were separated, but understandably, few people want to sit next to me and my fiddle.  :) 

Liberty  D 

Panhandle Rag  D 

Nine Pound Hammer  A 

Southern Flavor  Em 

Walkin' the Dog 

Cherokee Shuffle  A 

Foggy Mt. Special 

Sweet Sue 

Hard Times   E 

Sweet Georgia Brown  F 

Sittin' on Top of the World 

Nellie Kane  D 

Dead Skunk in the Middle of the Road    (!) 

Arkansas Traveler  D 

Angelina Baker  D 

Aura Lee 

White Freightliner   D 

Just Because 

Catfish John 

Over the Waterfall  D 

Clinch Mt. Backstep   A 

Old Spinning Wheel  C 

Stealin' 

Space Pilot 

Lonesome Pines 

Steampowered Aereoplane 

Home Sweet Home  C 

Note: It's pretty much in my nature to compliment pickers at different times for different reasons. In my past life as a teacher, I tried to publicly or privately "catch the kids in the act of doing the right thing". In these emails, I've often voiced my appreciation for what our truly professional-level pickers (Jay, Karl, Scott, etc.) bring to the jam. Deeply esteemed and unbelievably supportive jam-founder Ben has consistently been effusive in his appreciation of us in so many way. It's a very supportive group we have here - as I feel that all jams "oughter be". So here's a shout-out for all of the many pickers of our group who have shown truly impressive talent and/or growth and/or at the least been a consistently supportive presence........ SO, I suggest that as individuals we dare to give compliments where compliments are due .... it feels so good to give a clear nod (or outright compliment) to someone who did an impressive instrumental or vocal solo on a particular. song. I know I still savor compliments that have been offered re: my singing and (occasional) fiddling - and I've been at this jammin' thang for a number of years. In most jams, we don't have an audience present to show its appreciation, so let us show our own mutual appreciation where appreciation is due. It's one of the things that makes the whole greater than its parts. 

Be well,

January 3, 2018

Hello All, 

Well before the winds, snow, and cold temperatures reached our hinterlands, fifteen determined pickers had another feisty (not frosty) evening of singing and bantering: 

Home Sweet Home  C    (where the "jam pansies" - as Ed Pollak would call them - stayed instead of jamming with us) 

Frozen in Time   D  (need I say any more about the appropriateness of this title?) 

Big Sciota    (becoming a D'Jam regular) 

Angelina Baker   D  (source of a not-very fierce debate on whether the title is actually Angelina THE Baker; the jury is still out...) 

Wabash Cannonball   (the first of Karl's train songs) 

The Darker the Night  E   (..... the harder to see your instrument....) 

Sweet Sue   (in honor of jam-attendee fiddler Susan H.?) 

Billy in the Lowground  C   (gotta check to see if this tune has lyrics.....) 

Midnight on the Water  D  (in light of the weather, probably needs the more apt title of Midnight on the Ice) 

Just Because   (about a naughty gal whose "Santa" took her off the list ...) 

Over the Waterfall  D   (definitely another slippery slope these days) 

Sledd Ridin'  A  (two "d"'s, but the double entendre (?) is quite apt for this season) 

Evangeline  A  (quite a beautiful song, sung beautifully by Jude) 

Southern Flavor  Em   (though even the South is being hit with some very cold "flavors") 

White Freightliner  C  (Karl's second train song ...) 

Green Rolling Hills of West Virginia  (why are we NOT surprised that Nico would do a song about West Virginia....?) 

Panhandle Rag  D  (song done as my contingent of hardy jammers left for Home Sweet Home ...) 

Note A:  Hopefully we can get some more bass players to spell Kim these evenings. As stated before, upright bass players not only stand up the entire jam, but they also are required to play all through each and every song while some of us can occasionally take a rest. Of course, the (sole) bass player can sit out a few songs, too, but it's a kind of risky, possibly anarchistic move..... 

Note B: Ben reminded us that next Thursday at MOM's (January 11) there will be special, professional video taping of the D'Jam there for lots of reasons. Ought to be the usual D'Fun. 

Note C: I'm planning (and offering as a general idea to others)  on bringing my mini-tape recorder (which I prefer over my iphone recorder - for no particular reason) to future jams so that when I am practicing at home, I can use it for  "play-along" sessions (which I hope to be more helpful than merely a metronome). Also good for reviewing jam songs that I want to get more familiar with. I know I can get such tunes on YouTube, but they may not be in the same key nor at the same tempo. It would also give me the chance to listen to my own instrumentals and thus hear how much pain my rookie fiddling inflicts on my oh-so tolerant fellow jammers - and appreciate that I've not been bludgeoned (yet) by any offended banjo/mando/guitar pickers.... 

Be well ... and think warm,

Some of the many songs and tunes we've played over the years, and continue to add to the ever-growing list.

Act Naturally  C 

After Midnite  G 

Alabama Jubilee  C 

All Prayed Up  A 

Amazing Grace  G 

Angel Band  G 

Angelina Baker   D 

Armadillo Breakdown  A 

Aura Lee  G 

Back Up and Push  C 

Bad Moon Rising  G 

Bartender's Blues  G 

Big Sciota  G 

Bill Bailey  G 

Bill Cheatham  A 

Billy in the Low Ground   C 

Black Mt. Rag  D 

Blackberry Blossom  G 

Blue Kentucky Girl  B 

Blue Moon of Kentucky  A? 

Blue Ridge Mt. Home  G 

Bluegrass Stomp  D 

Boston Boy   C 

Bury Me Beneath the Willows  G 

Bye Bye Blues  C 

Cabin in Caroline   G 

Caravan  Cm 

Catfish John  G 

Cattle in the Cane  A/Am 

Cherokee Shuffle  A 

Church Street Blues  D 

Circle Be Unbroken  G 

Clinch Mt. Backstep  A 

Cripple Creek  G 

Crossroads  G 

Darlin' Corey  D 

Deck the Halls  G 

Dear Old Dixie  G 

Deep Elem Blues  D 

Dig a Hole in the Meadow  C 

Dim Lights, Thick Smoke  G 

Don't Give Your Heart to a Rambler  A 

Dueling Banjos  G 

East Tennessee Blues  C 

East Virginia  D 

East Virginia Blues  D 

EMD  Em  (Eat My Dust) 

Evangeline  A 

Faded Love  D 

Farewell Blues  C 

Fireball  G 

Fireball Mail   G 

Foggy Mt. Breakdown G 

Foggy Mt. Special   G 

Forty Years  G 

Freight Train  G 

Frozen in Time  D 

Gold Rush  A 

Golden Slippers  G 

Hey, Good Lookin'  C 

Hickory Winds  A 

Home Sweet Home   C 

House of the Rising Sun  Am 

 

I Am a Pilgrim  G  

I Know What It Means to Be Lonesome C  

I'll Fly Away  G  

I Saw the Light  G  

I Wouldn't Change You If I Could  D  

If I Lose  A  

In the Gravel Yard  G  

I've Endured  G  

I've Waited as Long as I Can  G  

John Hardy  G  

Just a Closer Walk  with Thee  D  

Just Because  G  

Keep on the Sunny Side  D  

Kentucky Waltz  D  

Lady Be Good  G  

Liberty  D ?  

Life Is Like a Mountain Railroad  A  

Limehouse Blues  G  

Little Maggie  G  

Lonesome Pines  G  

Long Journey Home  G  (aka Two-Dollar Bill)  

Long Lonesome Road  G  

Lord, I Hope This Day Is Good  G  

Lorena  G  

Love of the Mountains  G  

Maiden's Prayer  A  

Make Me a Pallet on Your Floor  G  

Man of Constant Sorrow  G  

Midnight on the Water  D  

Minor Swing  Em  

MTA G  

Nellie Kane  D  

Ninety-nine Years and One Dark Day  B  

Old Flames  A  

Old Folks at Home  G  

Old Home Place  G  

Old Joe Clark  A  

Old Spinning Wheel  C  

Over the Rainbow  G  

Over the Waterfall  D  

Panhandle Rag  D  

Paradise  D  

Red Haired Boy  A  

Red River Valley  G  

Red Wing  G  

Rickett's Hornpipe D  

Ring the Bell  D  

Ripple  G  

Roll in My Sweet Baby's Arms  G  

Route 66  G  

Salt Creek  A  

Salty Dog  G  

Sandy Boys  A  

Satin Doll  C  

Say, Darlin', Say  G  

Shady Grove  Em or Dm or Am  

Shuckin' the Corn  G  

Silver Bell  G  

Sing Me Back Home  G  

Sittin' on Top of the World  G  

Smokey Mt. Memories  F  

Soldier's Joy  D  

 

Some Dark Hollow  A   

Someday Soon  C   

Southern Flavor  Em   

Sportin' Life Blues  C   

St. Anne's Reel  D   

Steam-Powered Aereoplane  G   

Summertime  Em   

Sweet Georgia Brown  F   

Sweet Sue  G   

Take Me Back to Tulsa   D   

Talkin' to the Wall  A   

Tell Me, Baby  G   

Tennessee Waltz  D   

This Land Is Your Land  G   

Today I Started Loving You  C   

Tonight the Bottle Let Me Down   G   

Trouble in Mind  G   

Turkey in the Straw  G   

Turn the Radio On  G   

Wabash Cannonball  G   

Wait a Minute  G   

Walkin' the Dog   G   

Waltz across Texas  E   

Water Is Wide  G   

Wayfarin' Stranger  Em   

West Virginia  Bb   

Whiskey before Breakfast  D   

White Freightliner  C   

White House Blues  G   

Why've You Been Gone So Long?  D   

Who Will Sing for Me?  G   

Wild Side of Life  G   

You Ain't Goin' Nowhere  A   

You Belong to Me  C