Page 1 of 3 123 LastLast
Results 1 to 25 of 56

Thread: Repertoire list for bluegrass jams

  1. #1
    MandoNewbie Misty Stanley-Jones's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2014
    Location
    Brisbane, Australia
    Posts
    191

    Default Repertoire list for bluegrass jams

    I have a goal to be "jam ready" for the Redlands Bluegrass Festival held here in August. Last year at that festival, I bought my mandolin. I have not made as much progress this year as I would have liked but I have been doing better the last few months.

    I also have a Gibson Goldrush on order and I don't want to look like one of those folks with way more instrument than they deserve. LOL

    I'm terrible at reading the guitarists' hands for chords so I need to learn the chord progressions well enough to be able to transpose on my own. I'd also like to be able to take a break and play a simple variation on the melody, and know it well enough to be able to play it in most of the normal keys.

    I can play by ear a bit but in the stress of jam sessions I will probably fall down there.

    So what would you say are the top 10 or 20 tunes I should really work up first, so I have them ready to go? I want to put in the work so that I will really get a lot out of that weekend this year. Assume I know nothing now, even though that's not true. I have the Parking Lot Pickers and the Mandolin Fakebook as sources.
    --
    Playing since August 2013
    2014 Gibson Goldrush (David Harvey's photos)
    Greg Dunn A5 #1 (RayDoris)

  2. The following members say thank you to Misty Stanley-Jones for this post:

    BigBri 

  3. #2
    Registered User avaldes's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2013
    Location
    Champaign County, IL
    Posts
    366

    Default Re: Repertoire list for bluegrass jams

    Soldier's Joy (D), Salt Creek (A), Whiskey Before Breakfast (D). If you're a little more ambitious, Bluegrass Breakdown (G) and many of the same chords work for Mighty Dark to Travel (also G). These are basically some of the ones I learned in my first year of playing.

  4. The Following 2 Users Say Thank You to avaldes For This Useful Post:


  5. #3
    Registered User outsidenote's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2013
    Location
    Florida and Tennessee
    Posts
    134

    Default Re: Repertoire list for bluegrass jams

    Misty,

    It seems that common tunes lists vary a bit by region. It also depends a little whether you end up with a bunch of instrumentalists playing fiddle tunes (this seems common at festivals) or if you have singers. No idea what you might find down under. Most of my experience is with a limited amount of pickers, so what happens here is you end playing a bunch of personal favorites. The ones below seemed to show up a lot with the gang I played with.



    Soldiers Joy
    Angeline the Baker
    Arkansas Traveller
    St Annes Reel
    Blackberry Blossom
    Whiskey before breakfast
    Cherokee shuffle
    June Apple
    Red haired boy
    Cuckoos nest
    Old Joe Clark

  6. The Following 2 Users Say Thank You to outsidenote For This Useful Post:


  7. #4
    Registered User fentonjames's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2014
    Location
    Fenton, Missouri USA
    Posts
    378

    Default Re: Repertoire list for bluegrass jams

    roll on buddy, roll on.
    lonesome road blues/going down the road feeling bad

  8. The following members say thank you to fentonjames for this post:


  9. #5

    Default Re: Repertoire list for bluegrass jams

    You could get the Pete Wernick Jam Session DVDs. There are 3. One that is super easy, one that is pretty easy, and one that is intermediate. I am on the pretty easy one. It shows guitar chords if you want to see them and gives pointers. I highly recommend for getting jam ready. It will give you a pretty good repertoire to pull from too.

    Also, jams can be kind of intimidating. I would just go and see where you feel comfortable playing and play at that time, but don't feel like there is a certain benchmark to get there. People are where they are. Just get in where you fit it.

  10. The following members say thank you to Josh Levine for this post:


  11. #6

    Default Re: Repertoire list for bluegrass jams

    Misty,

    If you private message me here with your email, I will forward you a nice starting list of some very popular BG tunes with the chord changes. I am working on learning "60 at 60"....that is sixty popular fiddle & bluegrass jam tunes by my 60th birthday five years from now. I will work them out on guitar, mandolin and a few on octave mandolin, my three instruments. I plan to host a jam/pickin' party here in the San Francisco Bay area. I'm challenging all my musician my friends to learn as many of the tunes as they can in the next 5 years until my 60th birthday in 2019.

    In the meantime, and in general, getting out and jamming with what you know already is really a good practice.

    Svea

  12. The following members say thank you to Svea for this post:


  13. #7
    'Nother Registered User Jeff Richards's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2008
    Location
    Wheat Ridge, Colorado
    Posts
    80

    Default Re: Repertoire list for bluegrass jams

    Speaking of Pete Wernick, here is a link to his excellent list of jam tunes to peruse. From Dr. Banjo's list I would add to those listed above, "Nine Pound Hammer" and "Shady Grove" as jam staples.

    Have a great time!
    Last edited by Jeff Richards; Mar-16-2014 at 9:01pm. Reason: mispelling, grammar
    "My soul seemed as foul as smoke from burning cat fur."
    Kurt Vonnegut, Cat's Cradle

    "I'm a farmer with a mandolin and a high tenor voice."
    Bill Monroe

  14. The Following 2 Users Say Thank You to Jeff Richards For This Useful Post:


  15. #8
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Feb 2013
    Location
    Lake Tahoe
    Posts
    95

    Default Re: Repertoire list for bluegrass jams

    Google "Bluegrass Guitar Top Ten", and click on the "complete results" choice. Working your way from top to bottom, you can’t go too far wrong as far as fiddle tunes go, in order of how often fiddle tunes are played -- on average nationally, that is. As has been mentioned, local jams have their own characteristics and “results may vary” -- widely.

    But the way I look at it, I’m not going to kick myself for not knowing Grey Eagle or Stony Point if I get to a jam and it turns out that those are tunes they play all the time -- but I ought to know Red Haired Boy and Whiskey Before Breakfast. Some of these tunes are not as mandolin friendly as others, and some are too hard for a relative beginner to learn at jam tempos, but one can at least learn the chords.

    Vocal tunes are entirely unpredictable in their frequency, but the chord progressions are generally easy to figure out on the fly, and the melodies tend to be simple to pick up on if one needs to improvise a break.
    2008 Weber Bitterroot A
    1924 Gibson A Snakehead
    2012 Martin D-18, 2004 Martin SWDGT
    1962 Martin 5-16, 1972 Alvarez 5043
    1929 “Houn’ Dog”

    “Artists like Bach and Beethoven erected churches and temples on the heights. I only wanted…to build dwellings for men in which they might feel happy and at home”
    -- Edvard Grieg

  16. #9

    Default Re: Repertoire list for bluegrass jams

    It's certainly a good idea to know a few fiddle tunes. But most of the jams I've attended have mostly focused on singing songs more than fiddle tunes. To be ready for that, you need to be pretty familiar with the catalog of Bill Monroe, and Flatt and Scruggs (as a starting point). There are thousands of possible songs, and even though I know hundreds, perhaps thousands myself, every time I go to a jam, someone pulls out several I've never heard before and acts all amazed that I've never heard of it. So to deal with these, it's much easier to train yourself to learn how to play a tune you've only just heard the verse and chorus of once or twice. Not easy, but easier than learning 2000 tunes ahead of time. If you can also learn how to harmonize on the chorus, so much the better.

  17. The Following 2 Users Say Thank You to OldSausage For This Useful Post:


  18. #10
    MandoNewbie Misty Stanley-Jones's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2014
    Location
    Brisbane, Australia
    Posts
    191

    Default Re: Repertoire list for bluegrass jams

    Quote Originally Posted by Svea View Post
    Misty,

    If you private message me here with your email, I will forward you a nice starting list of some very popular BG tunes with the chord changes. I am working on learning "60 at 60"....that is sixty popular fiddle & bluegrass jam tunes by my 60th birthday five years from now. I will work them out on guitar, mandolin and a few on octave mandolin, my three instruments. I plan to host a jam/pickin' party here in the San Francisco Bay area. I'm challenging all my musician my friends to learn as many of the tunes as they can in the next 5 years until my 60th birthday in 2019.

    In the meantime, and in general, getting out and jamming with what you know already is really a good practice.

    Svea
    Thanks, PM sent. And thanks everybody! It does seem from past festivals that nobody ever wants to sing when jamming so I will make sure and learn the songs as much as I can, so I can add something on the ones where I can't keep up with mandolin.
    --
    Playing since August 2013
    2014 Gibson Goldrush (David Harvey's photos)
    Greg Dunn A5 #1 (RayDoris)

  19. #11
    Registered User David Smith's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2012
    Location
    Woodberry Forest, va.
    Posts
    152

    Default Re: Repertoire list for bluegrass jams

    Be able to figure out and play the I,IV,V chord progressions in every major key with a solid rhythm chop and you're good to go. If you are not comfortable taking a lead when your turn comes around simply pass the opportunity on to the next player. As time goes by your confidence will rise and you will try a lead....which you may screw up....but discover it's ok because nobody will die....the music goes on, everyone has fun, and you will be mightily rewarded.
    "A man is rich in proportion to the number of things he can afford to leave alone."

  20. The following members say thank you to David Smith for this post:


  21. #12
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Nov 2011
    Location
    Vancouver BC Canada
    Posts
    993

    Default Re: Repertoire list for bluegrass jams

    I'm still tring to wrap my head around ordering a 7000 dollar Gibson mandolin with only six months of playing under your belt . You might be the luckiest musician I know of .

  22. #13
    MandoNewbie Misty Stanley-Jones's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2014
    Location
    Brisbane, Australia
    Posts
    191

    Default Re: Repertoire list for bluegrass jams

    Quote Originally Posted by roysboy View Post
    I'm still tring to wrap my head around ordering a 7000 dollar Gibson mandolin with only six months of playing under your belt . You might be the luckiest musician I know of .
    No kids, understanding husband, and a classical musical background that gives me a certain amount of instrument snobbery. I never said it was a virtue!

    But I've owned trumpets and French horns that cost more. It's easy with French horn and that was my primary instrument and paid my way through university.

    Also it hasn't been built yet so I have a few months to save up.
    --
    Playing since August 2013
    2014 Gibson Goldrush (David Harvey's photos)
    Greg Dunn A5 #1 (RayDoris)

  23. The following members say thank you to Misty Stanley-Jones for this post:

    BigBri 

  24. #14
    F5G & MD305 Astro's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Location
    Charleston SC
    Posts
    2,478

    Default Re: Repertoire list for bluegrass jams

    Quote Originally Posted by Misty Stanley-Jones View Post
    No kids, understanding husband, and a classical musical background that gives me a certain amount of instrument snobbery. I never said it was a virtue!

    But I've owned trumpets and French horns that cost more. It's easy with French horn and that was my primary instrument and paid my way through university.

    Also it hasn't been built yet so I have a few months to save up.
    We understand.

    Those French Horns are hard to strum.
    No matter where I go, there I am...Unless I'm running a little late.

  25. The following members say thank you to Astro for this post:


  26. #15
    Registered User Wolfmanbob's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2006
    Location
    Long Island
    Posts
    261

    Default Re: Repertoire list for bluegrass jams

    If you're playing bluegrass, which you are, there are maybe 3 - 4 basic songs and the rest are slight variations on those. It's not brain surgury. If you have a classical music background you should be able to quickly be able to learn the typical chord progression and anticipate the changes when you're playing an unfamiliar tune. Generally they're about as subtle as a charging buffalo. Good luck with the Goldrush, I think they are beautiful instruments.
    RB - (Wolfman Bob)
    Lawrence Smart - 2 Point
    Flatiron - F5 - Artist
    Gibson - F12
    Gibson - A-50
    Flatiron - Pancake
    Fender FM 60 E

  27. #16
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Sep 2002
    Location
    North Carolina
    Posts
    12,184

    Default Re: Repertoire list for bluegrass jams

    Quote Originally Posted by OldSausage View Post
    It's certainly a good idea to know a few fiddle tunes. But most of the jams I've attended have mostly focused on singing songs more than fiddle tunes. To be ready for that, you need to be pretty familiar with the catalog of Bill Monroe, and Flatt and Scruggs (as a starting point). There are thousands of possible songs, and even though I know hundreds, perhaps thousands myself, every time I go to a jam, someone pulls out several I've never heard before and acts all amazed that I've never heard of it. So to deal with these, it's much easier to train yourself to learn how to play a tune you've only just heard the verse and chorus of once or twice. Not easy, but easier than learning 2000 tunes ahead of time. If you can also learn how to harmonize on the chorus, so much the better.
    All true. And yes, there are tunes that come up at festival jams that I've never heard, always surprising. But I'm of this mindset: if you know this music and are any good, even if you ain't never heard it once, you can knock it out of the park. Maybe not singing it, but surely the breaks.

    As an unrelated aside, I was at a Sat AM jam I hadn't hit in a way long time. I quickly rememberd why. Once of those circle things, where it goes around and you pick the number when it's your turn (lord, I hate those things). Anyway, one guy for his 'turn' sang On Top Of Old Smokey. I left shortly after that.

  28. #17
    Gibson F5L Gibson A5L
    Join Date
    Apr 2008
    Posts
    2,278
    Blog Entries
    1

    Default Re: Repertoire list for bluegrass jams

    Well if you want to play at a Jam then you have to learn to Jam. IE play tunes you don't know by improvising on the chord structure and melody. In this country the tunes played in the west coast Jams are different then those played three hundred miles east. Go to a few jams before you get your mandolin and make a list of the tunes you hear played. Add hash marks to denote which ones were repeated. Learn those , learn what chords go with what keys for standard I IV V VIm tunes, learn the relevant arpeggios and pentatonic scales and you are off and wandering. You can learn to recognize the chords the guitar is playing but so many of those Chaps use a capo that it often just confuses. The keys standard to Bluegrass and Oldtime Jams are G A Bd D and C. Start there but remember the capo folk can put you into any key so closed position scales and chord forms become important so you can move around on the fingerboard.. Enjoy the Goldrush... I'm a Gibson fan myself.... Luck.. R/
    I love hanging out with mandolin nerds . . . . . Thanks peeps ...

  29. The following members say thank you to UsuallyPickin for this post:


  30. #18
    Middle-Aged Old-Timer Tobin's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2009
    Location
    Kerrville, TX
    Posts
    4,004

    Default Re: Repertoire list for bluegrass jams

    Quote Originally Posted by AlanN View Post
    As an unrelated aside, I was at a Sat AM jam I hadn't hit in a way long time. I quickly rememberd why. Once of those circle things, where it goes around and you pick the number when it's your turn (lord, I hate those things).
    If you don't like going round the circle to pick the tune, how do you prefer it to go?

  31. #19
    Capt. E Capt. E's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2008
    Location
    Austin, Texas
    Posts
    2,865

    Default Re: Repertoire list for bluegrass jams

    Quote Originally Posted by outsidenote View Post
    Misty,

    It seems that common tunes lists vary a bit by region. It also depends a little whether you end up with a bunch of instrumentalists playing fiddle tunes (this seems common at festivals) or if you have singers. No idea what you might find down under. Most of my experience is with a limited amount of pickers, so what happens here is you end playing a bunch of personal favorites. The ones below seemed to show up a lot with the gang I played with.



    Soldiers Joy
    Angeline the Baker
    Arkansas Traveller
    St Annes Reel
    Blackberry Blossom
    Whiskey before breakfast
    Cherokee shuffle
    June Apple
    Red haired boy
    Cuckoos nest
    Old Joe Clark
    Not a bad start. I would add such things as Beggarman, Eighth of January, Fire on the Mountain. The list can be very long. Here is the latest Chord Chart from the Central Texas Bluegrass Assoc...the songs you might expect to be played at their jams. http://www.centraltexasbluegrass.org...list_r2011.pdf
    Jammin' south of the river
    '20 Gibson A-2
    Stromberg-Voisinet Tenor Guitar
    Penny Whistle
    My albums: http://www.mandolincafe.com/forum/album.php?u=7616

  32. The Following 3 Users Say Thank You to Capt. E For This Useful Post:


  33. #20

    Default Re: Repertoire list for bluegrass jams

    Here's what I do. (That may be a big red-flag ).
    Log onto Pandora or some similar internet music provider. Select an applicable genre or artist, ie. Bluegreass or Bill Monroe, Stanley Brothers etc.
    Do your best to play along with whatever comes up.

    You'll learn to quickly pick out the 'key' they're playing in*. You'll learn to hear and listen for chord changes and patterns...even the occasional key-change.

    You're free to try to find and play a break/melody line during any part of the song without distracting the singer!

    You'll have fun...and you'll be surpised how easily you can pick right along...at least until they sneak in some of the Sierra Hull stuff.

    This method won't provide a whole lot of 'fiddle tunes', but you'd be surprised how many common 'jam' songs you'll hear and learn.

    *In some of the older recordings, the instruments may have been tuned to each other, but they may not be tuned to 'standard' 440.

  34. #21
    Registered User Jon Hall's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2002
    Location
    Nacogdoches Texas
    Posts
    1,255

    Default Re: Repertoire list for bluegrass jams

    In addition to learning these songs it is important that you immerse yourself in this music. Load up your ipod or phone with "Best of" Bill Monroe, Flatt and Scruggs, The Stanley Brothers, Doc Watson, New Grass Revial, JD Crowe and the New South, etc. Get to know the music and when you play with others you will be playing that comes from within you and not just trying to keep up with the other musicians. The members at the Café can give you lots of suggestions for albums to listen to.
    Quote Originally Posted by OldSausage View Post
    It's certainly a good idea to know a few fiddle tunes. But most of the jams I've attended have mostly focused on singing songs more than fiddle tunes. To be ready for that, you need to be pretty familiar with the catalog of Bill Monroe, and Flatt and Scruggs (as a starting point). There are thousands of possible songs, and even though I know hundreds, perhaps thousands myself, every time I go to a jam, someone pulls out several I've never heard before and acts all amazed that I've never heard of it. So to deal with these, it's much easier to train yourself to learn how to play a tune you've only just heard the verse and chorus of once or twice. Not easy, but easier than learning 2000 tunes ahead of time. If you can also learn how to harmonize on the chorus, so much the better.

  35. #22
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Sep 2002
    Location
    North Carolina
    Posts
    12,184

    Default Re: Repertoire list for bluegrass jams

    Quote Originally Posted by Tobin View Post
    If you don't like going round the circle to pick the tune, how do you prefer it to go?
    I prefer a much more fluid approach - if a tune is called out and folks want to do it, then do it; if not, do something else. Going around in a hard circle seems so rule-based, to me.

  36. #23

    Default Re: Repertoire list for bluegrass jams

    Quote Originally Posted by OldSausage View Post
    It's certainly a good idea to know a few fiddle tunes. But most of the jams I've attended have mostly focused on singing songs more than fiddle tunes. To be ready for that, you need to be pretty familiar with the catalog of Bill Monroe, and Flatt and Scruggs (as a starting point). There are thousands of possible songs, and even though I know hundreds, perhaps thousands myself, every time I go to a jam, someone pulls out several I've never heard before and acts all amazed that I've never heard of it. So to deal with these, it's much easier to train yourself to learn how to play a tune you've only just heard the verse and chorus of once or twice. Not easy, but easier than learning 2000 tunes ahead of time. If you can also learn how to harmonize on the chorus, so much the better.
    X2 on this . I would add learn to read the guitar players chords and just get out there as much as you can .

  37. #24

    Default Re: Repertoire list for bluegrass jams

    Quote Originally Posted by AlanN View Post
    I prefer a much more fluid approach - if a tune is called out and folks want to do it, then do it; if not, do something else. Going around in a hard circle seems so rule-based, to me.
    I agree. The circle thing is so for the under fives.

  38. #25
    Middle-Aged Old-Timer Tobin's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2009
    Location
    Kerrville, TX
    Posts
    4,004

    Default Re: Repertoire list for bluegrass jams

    Quote Originally Posted by AlanN View Post
    I prefer a much more fluid approach - if a tune is called out and folks want to do it, then do it; if not, do something else. Going around in a hard circle seems so rule-based, to me.
    I like the idea of that approach, but I assume this works better in a small informal jam setting amongst a group of people who are familiar with each other? In a large group of strangers (like at a festival), does it get a little chaotic? Does calling the tune become a competition for who can shout the loudest? Without a "rule" for who gets to call the next tune, how is it decided?

    I hope it doesn't sound like I'm being argumentative. I love to hear how others do it, and find out what works and doesn't work. I'm all for avoiding "rules" that kill spontaneity, so I'm genuinely curious how this works without the etiquette of going in a circle (or some other predetermined system that ensures fairness).

  39. The Following 2 Users Say Thank You to Tobin For This Useful Post:


Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •