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Notes from the Field

Tuesday Nights

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All in all a typical Tuesday night jam. The company - three fiddles, two guitars, two mandolins, one banjo, and a guitar/clarinet/penny whistle player. At times the jam has had a few more fiddles, and a few more guitars. Once or twice we have had three mandolins, or more than one banjo. This night I played the Martin bowlback, a 1911 style 3 that plays really well with others.

We played an assortment of Irish tunes, mostly popular though a few rather obscure, a bunch of old timey fiddle tunes, a few tunes ferreted out of the Portland book, some waltzes, some singin songs - lets see.. The Dillards, Old Crow Medicine Show, and the Grateful Dead. A youngster danced between the tables as we played.

Our music shows the easy familiarity, inside musical jokes, and genuine affection for each other that you would expect from folks who have played together for a long time, in some cases over twenty five years. Others are more recent, five or ten years. The jam itself, however, is considerably older, meeting regularly on Tuesday nights since the late 1970s. At times I have joked that we play music because we have nothing else in common. And while of course that is not true, the diversity of the assortment of characters we are probably would not have happened without the music. We play because that is how we visit with each other every week.

We have all been through a lot together, marriages, divorces, children, children’s children, sickness and health, good times and bad. The jam itself has been bounced around, from a coffeehouse to a church basement to another coffeehouse or two. And recently our host, where we have provided our free entertainment for the last many years, has hinted a threat to boot us over lack-luster counter sales of lattes, pastries, soups and paninis.

Someone could write several novels about us and our jam. Lets hope nobody does.

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