We are always looking for
people who share our common interest in Bluegrass, Folk, and Gospel Music. We welcome all levels of talent.
- You do not have to read music, but a knowledge of basic chords helps.
- We have a diverse group of talent and can generally help novice players get
"up to speed" pretty quickly; however, don't expect miracles.
- We're short on rules and long on support.
- We have a couple of extra instruments for those who want to try beatin' out chords or pickin'
Occasionally, we get the opportunity
to perform; but our focus remains on fellowship.
Public performances are optional.
Having fun is mandatory.
Our jam sessions are pretty relaxed;
however, we do expect all persons attending to take care of the facility and respect fellow players.
PATHFINDER JAM SESSIONS
These are not rules, just an approach that works for us.
The Songs: We have one “songbook” for each major instrument, Guitar, Mandolin, Bass, Fiddle, and Banjo.
Some of these songs are posted under the “Music” page. We have tried to make our songbooks
VERY user friendly with three different versions for each song, including standard notation, tabulature, and chords.
As new members join, we share the songbooks.
New Music: When members choose new songs to play, they provide
copies of essential information (key, chord progression, time, lyrics) and then we improvise. New songs
fall into the 6-minute rule; hence, if we can’t get it down in 6-minutes, we move on to the next song. This
does not mean the song is permanently shelved, it just means we need a little more time to figure out individual parts.
The Circle: We
form a loose circle of chairs, where musicians can clearly see each other. After we tune, we lead off with
a well-known and relatively easy warm-up song, something like Amazing Grace. Once we get warmed-up, someone
suggests a song and we begin to jam. Moving clockwise, each person gets a chance to choose a known song
or suggest a new song. When your turn comes, you have a couple of options:
Lead: This means picking a song, singing the lead, guiding the breaks, and bring the song to an
eventual end. Breaks are communicated through eye contact, a nod, or a shout out like “take it Sam”.
If you have a song you'd like to play but don't want to sing or lead, simply suggest
the song and ask someone else to lead the breaks.
You're welcome to let the next person choose. Try to be ready when the song comes to you.
Singing: For most songs, singing is essential and we welcome singers;
HOWEVER, it is essential to get the instrumental portion of a song down before adding vocals. As for singing
etiquette; the Lead sings the verses and everyone else joins in on the chorus. Also, never sing during
an instrument break.
A break is when you play an instrumental solo during a song. We encourage people to take breaks,
but it is not required. If you want a break, make eye contact with the “Lead” and wait for
the nod. If you are not playing the break or lead, your job is to support the lead by staying on
the tempo and chord.
we discuss the specifics of a song and breaks before we begin playing, so listen. Additionally, there can
be a significant amount of improvising during a song, so pay attention to the Lead while playing. For those
with a music background, consider the Lead a conductor who plays and sings. Watch the Lead’s foot;
this keeps you on tempo AND the raised leg that means the song is almost over. Finally, watch you volume.
If you can't hear the soloist, you're probably playing too loud.
Experience: Everybody brings value to the
circle. Novice-level players should ask questions and more experienced players should show patience, assisting
and teaching when necessary. Try not to get anxious about playing perfectly as that’s not the point.
The point is to have fun.
New to jam sessions?
Jammandments (click here)
Jamming Tips (click hear)
'cha bring. We have extras, if needed!
Guitar Banjo Mandolin
Bass Fiddle Harmonica
Zither Dobro Washboard
Spoons Jaw Harp Accordian