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Thread: The jammers first five

  1. #1
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    Default The jammers first five

    I'm planning on attending my first festival and giving jamming a go if I don't chicken out.
    What would be the first five songs you make sure you nail down before going?

  2. #2

    Default Re: The jammers first five

    Fun, don't back out it's so much fun and such good experience. Even if you don't know the tune just chop along muting the strings and listen for chord changes and such. I'd work on Angeline the Baker, Liberty, Red Haired Boy, Soldiers Joy, Billy in the Lowground - bonus if you move it to G you now have Temperance Reel a two-fer.
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    Default Re: The jammers first five

    There is no way to answer this without more information, Bluegrass Jam, Celtic Jam, Old Time Jam, Jazz Jam?

    Even then, it really varies, and their probably still isn't an answer. I play in a Bluegrass Jam. We probably have 50 songs we play at least semi-regularly, ie 50 songs that might get called on any given night.

    That being said, do not use that as an excuse not to go. Every jam is different, some are a little more insular than others, but in general, most are extremely welcoming of new faces and the more experienced members will try to help guide those who are new.

    So, instead of a list of songs, none of which are guaranteed to be called, let me offer some advise, assuming it is a bluegrass jam. if it isn't, none of the following will apply. Learn the open position guitar chords, (G,C,D, Em, Am) and understand how guitarists use a capo to change keys. Once you have these two things under your belt you can chop along to almost anything. In addition, learn how to dry chop (no chord) for when you get lost.
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    Default Re: The jammers first five

    Quote Originally Posted by dwc View Post
    There is no way to answer this without more information, Bluegrass Jam, Celtic Jam, Old Time Jam, Jazz Jam?
    .
    There are some tunes that show up in multiple genre jams, such as Red Haired Boy (aka Little Beggarman or Old Johnny Dhu at Irish sessions). Here's a discussion of tunes common to Irish and Old Time jams on The Session:

    https://thesession.org/discussions/33937
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    Default Re: The jammers first five

    "Old Joe Clark" is always a good easy one for all jams IMO. Also "You are my Sunshine" works often too.

    I second Soldier's Joy and Angeline the Baker too.

    At the jam I play, there is a wide variety of stuff played; from "House of the Rising Sun" to "Amazing Grace" to "Grandfather's Clock" to Fiddle tunes to Elvis tunes... a fun mish mash IMO

    Fiddle tunes are a good start though!
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    Default Re: The jammers first five

    Yeah ... what kind of jam makes a big difference ..... 'grass ... Red Haired Boy in A , Whiskey Before Breakfast in D, Salt Creek in A, Old Joe Clark in A , Redwing in G, .... Best advice beyond that is to take a small recorder with you and sample the tunes being played to create your own to learn list. Jam favorites differ from place to place. Remember this is supposed to be fun. Luck ... R/
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    Default Re: The jammers first five

    Quote Originally Posted by Stubs View Post
    I'm planning on attending my first festival and giving jamming a go if I don't chicken out.
    What would be the first five songs you make sure you nail down before going?
    Songs include: 9 lb Hammer, Bury Me Beneath the Willow, Ashes of Love, Bluebirds are Singing for Me. I Saw the Light, I'll fly Away. You're going to lead sometime, and songs are easer, IMO, than fiddle tunes, for that. They'll call fiddle tunes you either don't know, or go too fast. Let them go by.

    To me, singing in harmony and improvising a break are more fun than just playing the fiddle tune you learned. YMMV
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    Default Re: The jammers first five

    Quote Originally Posted by Bill McCall View Post
    Songs include: 9 lb Hammer, Bury Me Beneath the Willow, Ashes of Love, Bluebirds are Singing for Me. I Saw the Light, I'll fly Away. You're going to lead sometime, and songs are easer, IMO, than fiddle tunes, for that. They'll call fiddle tunes you either don't know, or go too fast. Let them go by.

    To me, singing in harmony and improvising a break are more fun than just playing the fiddle tune you learned. YMMV
    I like fiddle tunes, but it seems like every time they are called (and they are called exceedingly infrequently) they are a disaster. I think vocal tunes are, in general, easier, and in my experience people like singing.

    Your list is the first one with any songs that are called in my jam. In fact 9 lb. Hammer, Bury Me Beneath the Willow, Ashes of Love, I'll Fly Away and I Saw the Light are all called frequently in my jam.
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    Default Re: The jammers first five

    We have old time jams regularly and they are never the same. there are so many tunes and our jam has a bunch of very good players that know a lot of tunes. That being said our jam and most jams will help someone new most willingly and if you have a few that you like to play we will play some that you know at a tempo that you can play at. As was previously said it is supposed to be fun and everyone starts at the beginning. If a jam is not accommodating to beginners I would find a different jam. Most are tho.
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  10. #10

    Default Re: The jammers first five

    To add to Bill's great list, Will the Circle be Unbroken and Blue Ridge Cabin Home are ones everybody knows. And don't be afraid to ask the banjo or fiddle player if they'd like to kick it off if you don't want to.

  11. #11

    Default Re: The jammers first five

    So, Stubs, what kind of jam is it? If it's a popular acoustic music jam, be ready for:

    - Angel From Montgomery
    - Friend of the Devil
    - I Shall Be Released
    - Wagon Wheel
    - Will the Circle Be Unbroken
    - You Ain't Goin' Nowhere

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    Default Re: The jammers first five

    Since I do "Ashes of Love" in F and I know a fair number of at also play it there, I'd not worry too much about that.
    There is virtually no way to "know" what might come up, don't overthink it. Just keep in tune and learn, it's your first.
    Most of the tunes mentioned may show up but some I have never in 45 years heard at a festival jam. Well, BG festival jam. You might start listening to some Monroe instrumentals, "Southern Flavor" seems to be making some of the rounds and "Goldrush" straight old war horses will come up either early or very very late at a lot of festival jams.
    Like I say, keep in tune and listen, your patience will be rewarded, trust me.
    Interesting to see anyone mention "You Ain't Goin' Nowhere", that tune by a local band when I started playing is what turned my to mandolin and gave me a little confidence to sing lead! I do it in A (a la "The Rimfire Ramblers") the guys from that band are still some of my closest friends.
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    Default Re: The jammers first five

    It's a small Bluegrass festival.
    I wrote down the list and I have no issues with cord transitions or transposing to a different key. Picking is in it's beginning stages and I want to go there with at least five songs I can pick a little on if the speed is not over my ability.
    I figure I have to start playing in public some time if I'm ever going to enjoy my retirement fun when it comes.

  14. #14

    Default Re: The jammers first five

    My five would be:
    Angeline the Baker, Flop Eared Mule, Whiskey Before Breakfast, Redwing, & Redhaired Boy.

    I also recommend this page:
    http://www.drbanjo.com/instructional-2chordsongs.php

    Best of Luck!

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    Default Re: The jammers first five

    Quote Originally Posted by Stubs View Post
    It's a small Bluegrass festival.
    I wrote down the list and I have no issues with cord transitions or transposing to a different key. Picking is in it's beginning stages and I want to go there with at least five songs I can pick a little on if the speed is not over my ability.
    I figure I have to start playing in public some time if I'm ever going to enjoy my retirement fun when it comes.
    A lot of great suggestions here. If you get to jam with a banjo player you might as well know Foggy Mtn Breakdown and/or Cripple Creek. Have fun!

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    Default Re: The jammers first five

    A pretty unanswerable question, IMHO. So much depends on what other musicians show up, and what they know.

    If it's your first jam, listening is about as important as playing -- maybe more so. Getting a feel for the jam, how expert the other musicians are, what songs/tunes they know, what other instruments are present. In an unfamiliar jam or session, I tend to "lay low" for awhile, try to figure out where my particular skills and repertoire fit in. I've been to "bluegrass jams" where 75% of the songs played were actually what I'd call "old time country" -- Hank Williams, Ernest Tubb, Hank Snow, etc. I've been to others where intricate "newgrass" instrumentals were prevalent, others where some of the more dominant musicians obviously thought bluegrass started with Wagon Wheel.

    At many a jam, someone's started up Cripple Creek or Foggy Mountain Breakdown as "everybody knows this one" instrumentals. As to vocals, most groups will accept Roll In My Sweet Baby's Arms, Will the Circle Be Unbroken, or Salty Dog Blues (gives you a chance to run your E-A-D-G chords). But there are as many exceptions as jams that adhere to these suggestions.

    Give it a try, but check out the level of musicianship, and the other members' musical preferences, by listening first, before diving in. Just my 2.
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    Default Re: The jammers first five

    Thanks folks for all of the suggestions.
    I've been going to festivals for the past three years and listening. I'm a "if it ain't perfect, I'm not doing it" kind of person. I'm going to have to over come that thought process if I'm ever going to really enjoy playing mando cause I will never come close to performance quality with my playing. I'm going to try to break the nerves with this very small festival and open jam.
    Once again thanks

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    Default Re: The jammers first five

    It's never perfect, move along and get PLAYING!
    Timothy F. Lewis
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    Default Re: The jammers first five

    Occasionally you'll walk up on a jam and it'll be some folks that sound like entry level players and you'll still get a snub. Like someone will step right in front of you, and cut you out of the group. This is very rare but it does happen. If it happens to you, don't let get you down. There's plenty more that will welcome you in. Just remember to be respectful of others, and others should be respectful of you. Now go jump in and get your feet wet cause it's a whole new world outside of solo jamming in our man caves. :-)

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    Default Re: The jammers first five

    Quote Originally Posted by Stubs View Post
    I'm a "if it ain't perfect, I'm not doing it" kind of person. I'm going to have to over come that thought process if I'm ever going to really enjoy playing mando cause I will never come close to performance quality with my playing.
    It's great you know and understand perfection is not helpful. "Letting go" isn't easy for some. It wasn't easy for me. But if there was a breakthrough moment it was turning down my give-a-rip level. Check out Kenny Werner's book & YT lectures about Effortless Mastery. Many folks, from mandolin pickers, to Julliard graduate students suffer from this.

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    Default Re: The jammers first five

    I have two guiding principles with regard to jamming.

    1) If you wait until you are "ready" to jam, you will never go. No one is ever really ready.

    2) To paraphrase Dr. Suess, you can get help from teachers, but you are going to have to spend a lot of time alone in your room.

    Both of these really speak to the same idea. Music is a journey; it takes a lot of work, and you are never as good as you want to be, but to get better you have to simultaneously put yourself out there a little, and then be willing to look at your playing critically and go back to the laboratory to refine things on your own.

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    Default Re: The jammers first five

    Well said folks, I've got two months to bang it out and get my backside out there. So I'll work on the suggestions and hopfully have five I can rely on. Got to get the first one out of the way, so the rest of my journey will be full of fun.

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    Default Re: The jammers first five

    Quote Originally Posted by Stubs View Post
    .....I'm a "if it ain't perfect, I'm not doing it" kind of person.
    Letting go of that will make playing a lot easier. Play as well as your ability allows, which means some mistakes will happen, and for everyone else as well. Cut yourself the same slack you do other people.

    Enjoy the comraderie and music, or move to a jam that allows that.
    Play it like you mean it

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    Default Re: The jammers first five

    If it's old time nobody cares. They can't hear you. Play all the tunes. Try to get one note or two or however many. How can you learn if you don't play?

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    Default Re: The jammers first five

    Just remember, 1-there's always someone who plays "better".
    And 2- it's called PLAYING music.
    Timothy F. Lewis
    "If brains was lard, that boy couldn't grease a very big skillet" J.D. Clampett

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