Results 1 to 15 of 15

Thread: Jams and "traditional" bluegrass in Austin, Texas

  1. #1

    Default Jams and "traditional" bluegrass in Austin, Texas

    I'm looking to get some info on the bluegrass scene in and around Austin, Texas. By the scene, I don't mean just the places to take in a professional show, although I'm into that sort of thing, of course, and I know Austin has some of the best live-music offerings anywhere. I mean the participatory situation: picking, not "jams on stage" by house bands/pickup bands. For instance, a lot of people--including in older posts in this forum--mention Radio Coffee & Beer and St. Elmo's as jam spots, but both of these places, fine as they may be, appear to have performances, not jams. Maybe I'm mistaken about that; I'm going by what I find on their websites and in other sources online. So, where do folks gather to pick and sing the classics of the Stanley Brothers or Hartford or Jim and Jesse or Bill or Flatt & Scruggs or... with whoever shows up?

    Now, with respect to the pros, I'm wondering about where to find traditional-ish bluegrass and old-time shows and festivals. I love creative musicianship across genres, which Austin is known for. A lot of "alt-" and progressive stuff. I like that that, but I like the standards, too. What's a good venue for traditional/traditionally inspired bluegrass bands and other string bands?

    I don't have specific upcoming dates in Austin, though I may visit in December. This is a general inquiry, in advance of a possible move to the area. I've lived for a long time in Boston, which has a fantastic jam environment for an avid amateur player and occasional gigger such as myself. My partner, however, is being recruited for a great job in Austin. (She's also a picker.) So I'm trying to learn more. I checked out centraltexasbluegrass.org, which has some good info. But I'm wondering also about the inside scoop.

    Thanks in advance for any tips. Boston is my beloved home, but I'm thinking that if we wind up in Austin, we'll find lots of musical fun there, too.
    Last edited by Man of Wax; Oct-30-2018 at 9:39am.

  2. #2
    Registered User wellvis@well.com's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2005
    Location
    San Francisco, CA
    Posts
    119

    Default Re: Jams and "traditional" bluegrass in Austin, Texas

    Brad's Page of Steel:
    http://www.well.com/~wellvis/steel.html
    A website devoted to acoustic & electric steel guitars

  3. #3

    Default Re: Jams and "traditional" bluegrass in Austin, Texas

    Thanks. I've seen that page, and it has some good links. Curious about the inside scoop, though, if anyone would like to share.

  4. #4
    The Amateur Mandolinist Mark Gunter's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2014
    Location
    Sweetwater, Texas
    Posts
    3,191

    Default Re: Jams and "traditional" bluegrass in Austin, Texas

    Quote Originally Posted by Man of Wax View Post
    Thanks. I've seen that page, and it has some good links. Curious about the inside scoop, though, if anyone would like to share.
    Nothing like repeating what you already wrote in OP, right? I did read the whole post. I'm not from Austin, so I can't help you with the inside scoop there, sorry. I did want to mention the monthly fun that goes down in Pearl, Texas though. 1st Saturday Bluegrass Jam and Stage Show. It's west of Gatesville, so it would be a monthly drive. I'm up here in Abilene, but make the drive sometimes. Usually a whole lot of pickin' going on there, and worth the drive. Search this forum for a post about it, with link to their website.
    Technique, theory and fun, fun, fun. I love playing, studying and sharing MUSIC.
    "Life is short. Play hard." - AlanN
    ------------------------
    HEY! The Cafe has Social Groups, check 'em out. I'm in these groups:
    Newbies Social Group | The Song-A-Week Social
    The Woodshed Study Group | Collings Mandolins | MandoCymru
    - Advice For Mandolin Beginners
    - YouTube Stuff

  5. The following members say thank you to Mark Gunter for this post:


  6. #5
    Registered User Rob Ross's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2011
    Location
    Apple Valley, MN
    Posts
    62

    Default Re: Jams and "traditional" bluegrass in Austin, Texas

    I'm not an Austin resident, but I get there occasionally, and so far have only managed to make the Stone Soup Session (think of the long-lamented Sandy's Old Time jam from Cambridge meets a British Isles song session, no bluegrass but great eclectic fun.) That leads me to playing at a Minnesota MBOTMA jam some time later with one Gary Mortensen from Austin, one of the hosts of the KOOP radio "Strictly Bluegrass" program, and a really great dobro player. He had written the birthday article in the "Reel Times" Newsletter of the Austin Friends of Traditional Music for Dave Polacheck, the leader of the Stone Soup Session, which is what originally led me to finding the Stone Soup Session. He said that due to the very large number of professional musicians in Austin, plain old pick-up jams are not really very prevalent in Austin. They are there, but you are going to probably have to find some local folks with knowledge of them. I think you're correct that many of the "jams" listed are more watch the local professionals get down than join and play.

    As an aside, an another small world story: for years I flew into Memphis, and would see adds for Fiddler's Green, a great little music store. I never got anywhere near where it was, till my company changed hotels we stayed in, and there it was, across the street. I got there once, and then they packed up shop, and moved back to Austin, from whence the owner came. I haven't made it there yet, but if you're down for Irish, they have a session on Sundays.
    Rob Ross
    Apple Valley, Minne-SOH-tah

    1996 Flatiron A5-Performer
    1915 Gibson F-2 (loaned to me by a friend)
    2008 Kentucky Master KM-505 A-Model
    1925 Bacon Peerless tenor banjo (Irish tuning)
    and of course,
    the 1970 Suzuki-Violin-Sha Bowl Back Taterbug

  7. The following members say thank you to Rob Ross for this post:


  8. #6

    Default Re: Jams and "traditional" bluegrass in Austin, Texas

    Quote Originally Posted by Mark Gunter View Post
    Nothing like repeating what you already wrote in OP, right? I did read the whole post. I'm not from Austin, so I can't help you with the inside scoop there, sorry. I did want to mention the monthly fun that goes down in Pearl, Texas though. 1st Saturday Bluegrass Jam and Stage Show. It's west of Gatesville, so it would be a monthly drive. I'm up here in Abilene, but make the drive sometimes. Usually a whole lot of pickin' going on there, and worth the drive. Search this forum for a post about it, with link to their website.
    Thanks for this info. Pearl seems not too far away for a monthly deal.

    He said that due to the very large number of professional musicians in Austin, plain old pick-up jams are not really very prevalent in Austin. They are there, but you are going to probably have to find some local folks with knowledge of them. I think you're correct that many of the "jams" listed are more watch the local professionals get down than join and play.
    Yeah, this is kind of what I'm afraid of. What's rather incredible about the Boston scene is that there are a ton of pros and a ton of pick-up jams. I'm sure that exists somewhere else, too, but it's not exactly common. Sandy was a good guy. Real odd duck, but that's how we like them, right?

  9. #7

    Default Re: Jams and "traditional" bluegrass in Austin, Texas

    Bumping this thread because we are, in fact, moving to Austin. I just wanted to see if anyone else might pop up with more ideas. I checked out the jam at Oscar Blues brewing on a recent visit. Nice for beginners, but looking for something at a higher level. Thanks for all the suggestions so far.

  10. #8
    Fingers of Concrete ccravens's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2005
    Location
    Crockett, TX
    Posts
    793

    Default Re: Jams and "traditional" bluegrass in Austin, Texas

    Teacher and performer Eddie Collins would be a great person to contact. He's been in Austin for many years. Great guy and teacher. here's his website. It has his email and phone number.

    http://https://www.eddiecollins.biz/

    Rolf Sieker would be another good person to contact:

    http://http://siekerband.com/

    You're gonna love Austin. Great music and outdoors/recreation scene. Please visit Barton Springs if you enjoy nature and swimming.
    Chris Cravens

    Girouard A5 Mandolin
    Montana Flatiron A-Jr.
    Girouard A Mandola
    Leo Posch D-18

  11. #9
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Jan 2005
    Location
    St Paul, Minn
    Posts
    304

    Default Re: Jams and "traditional" bluegrass in Austin, Texas

    You may want to check out The Barbershop in Dripping Springs.....they have some pretty good players at some of their jams and events. You will definitely meet some players there that can hook you up.

  12. #10

    Default Re: Jams and "traditional" bluegrass in Austin, Texas

    Quote Originally Posted by ccravens View Post
    Teacher and performer Eddie Collins would be a great person to contact. He's been in Austin for many years. Great guy and teacher. here's his website. It has his email and phone number.

    http://https://www.eddiecollins.biz/

    Rolf Sieker would be another good person to contact:

    http://http://siekerband.com/

    You're gonna love Austin. Great music and outdoors/recreation scene. Please visit Barton Springs if you enjoy nature and swimming.
    Thanks for these great tips. I'll look into these folks. We visited Barton Springs during a June visit to look for housing. Awesome spot. Very... aromatic. My dog will love "Barking Springs" as well. The hike through there is also gorgeous. One of the great urban parks, for sure.

  13. #11

    Default Re: Jams and "traditional" bluegrass in Austin, Texas

    Quote Originally Posted by ajh View Post
    You may want to check out The Barbershop in Dripping Springs.....they have some pretty good players at some of their jams and events. You will definitely meet some players there that can hook you up.
    Sweet. Thanks for the info. Looking forward to checking this out.

  14. The following members say thank you to Man of Wax for this post:


  15. #12

    Default Re: Jams and "traditional" bluegrass in Austin, Texas

    Hey, Man of Wax! I just moved back to San Antonio after being in austin for two years. The earlier poster is correct in that most musicians are pros, so itís much harder to find casual jammers. I also fell for the Radio Coffee ďjamĒ thatís really a concert. However, there are some good opportunities!

    The CTBA jams are okay, but I never found one I really loved. Iíd still recommend checking a few out. Most leaned more toward beginners and I never found one where the attendance stayed consistent.

    Eddie Collins hosts a bluegrass open mic at the New World Deli on Thursdayís, which is really fun. You can go solo and there are usually some ďhouseĒ musicians who will play with you on your turn.

    The Butterfly Bar has a really great bluegrass jam every other Wednesday, but make sure you check their calendar online before you go, since sometimes it gets bumped if there is a play at the Vortex (the two share a building). This jam is up on stage and done for a crowd, but it is truly an open jam. They describe it as the ďanti-RadioĒ jam.

    Unfortunately, as far as sit-in-a-circle jams, I never found a great one. Beware of googling jams, because 2/3 I found online were defunct, but no one ever updates their web pages. Do512 is a terrible resource for finding jams. Almost every one I found was defunct but not updated.

    Best of luck!!!

    If you ever have the time and want a great jam, thereís a great one here in San Antonio every Monday at 6:30 at the BBQ Station.

  16. The following members say thank you to Joseph5234 for this post:


  17. #13

    Default Re: Jams and "traditional" bluegrass in Austin, Texas

    Almost forgot, a couple other ones to mention. Thereís a good jam near driftwood on Friday nights thatís about 1/2 bluegrass and 1/2 folk, country, etc. Iíve never seen it advertised anywhere, but it starts at 8 and is located here:
    Rolling Oaks Clubhouse
    950 Lonesome Trl, Driftwood, TX 78619

    There is also a cool deal that happens on Wednesdays at 7:30 at the Hancock Rec Center. Itís the Austin Barn Dancers. Itís an actual barn dance/contra dance class, but if you bring an instrument you get to be the backing band. Songs are similar to bluegrass/old time style, but no breaks. Itís still a lot of fun. Itís a cool experience to have someone dancing to your music.

  18. The following members say thank you to Joseph5234 for this post:


  19. #14
    Registered User Vaulted's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2019
    Location
    Mobile Bay
    Posts
    12

    Default Re: Jams and "traditional" bluegrass in Austin, Texas

    Quote Originally Posted by Man of Wax View Post
    Thanks. I've seen that page, and it has some good links. Curious about the inside scoop, though, if anyone would like to share.

    Yes, we want discussion beyond a list, or linky, if anyone can add some.
    John

  20. #15
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Jan 2017
    Location
    Round Rock, TX
    Posts
    86

    Default Re: Jams and "traditional" bluegrass in Austin, Texas

    I've lived in the Austin area for about 10 years now. Jamming the whole time. Yes, it's confusing. Lot's of really talented pro's who are always working. Lots of beginners. It's hard to find a group with the same skill and dedication level. And the musical genre's are more striated that other places I've lived. Bluegrassers don't play with Singer Songwriters, Folkies don't play old Time or Celtic. You just have to go to a bunch of jams and get with folks with similar interests and branch out.

    Also, there is a kind of mini-festival circuit that is helpful meeting like minded pickers. Pearl is about an hour and a half from Austin but well worth the trip. An old timer once told me: "There aint two places in Texas less than an hour apart." There are four jam rooms and often a couple outside. there will be a room full of Cowboys, a fiddle tune room, tradgrass and Swing Jazz, and you can just move around until you find one you like. If you can stay over the nighttime jams are often the best. Second Saturday is Fayetteville, Third Saturday is Coushatte, where you can hook up with Houston BABA Folks, or Glen Rose where you can meet folks from Dallas, Fort Worth. All a couple of hours away. And the Rolling Oaks Jam is one of the best but pretty eclectic.

    And once you know some people start your own jam.

Posting Permissions

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