Bust the Rut

This entry was posted by on Thursday, 13 September, 2007 at

A friend of mine from my regular Friday night jam tipped me off to a once-per-month bluegrass jam at the Montrose Saloon. So last night I thought “what the heck” and showed up at 8pm. The place was a smoky, smelly dive bar, but cute and friendly at the same time. There were lots of regulars hanging out and drinking at the bar, and only two guys on stage with guitars. They were plenty friendly and excited to have a newcomer, but said people wouldn’t trickle in for a while. So I walked around the block for 30 minutes, came back, and now there were four guys on stage with guitars.

At this point, I started to get worried — was this going to be one of those 8-guitars-and-1-banjo jams? But soon more interesting instruments started trickling in the door: a fiddle player, a mando player, a dobro player, and an upright bass player. Awesome! We started playing simple bluegrass tunes, and I stood in the back of the group just following along by ear, keeping simple rhythm. They kept trying to get me to step forward and solo… but c’mon, I just a newb, playing a bunch of songs I’ve never heard before, with a bunch of people I’ve never met before, in front of an audience of 30 people. I mean, hey… solo? No pressure or anything!

Finally I realized why they kept trying to get me to solo: they were spoiled. In walked another banjo player, apparently their “regular” banjo guy who they had mercifully failed to warn me about, in fear of scaring me away. This guy was fantastic, and familiar-looking. After his first solo, I realized that it was Dave Bragman, a banjo teacher from the Old Town School. He was also really nice to me… kept encouraging me to do solos, showing me various licks he was playing. I have to say, it was a rush to play in large group with another banjo player, trying to synchronize styles. It was also a great rush to play new music in front of an appreciative audience, and it was a breath of fresh air to work with other musicians. The whole experience reminds me that it’s good to get out of our ruts now and then!

2 Comments to Bust the Rut

  1. eric h says:

    September 13th, 2007 at 9:42 am

    But I like my rut. It’s got comfy cushions and a vending machine.

  2. iBanjo » Blog Archive » More, MOAR Bluegrass! says:

    November 27th, 2007 at 3:40 pm

    […] One of my earliest posts on this blog was about my regular Friday Night Jam group, and then I recently posted about another monthly jam I discovered here in Chicago. However, now that I’ve got my folding banjo that I can stuff into my backpack, I’ve discovered that the real fun is to hunt for open jam sessions when I travel around the country! […]