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Updates

Spring 2018

Due to a variety of factors, none of which was a nor'easter surprisingly, the schedules of the Bluegrass Band Ensemble Class (in Cambridge) and the Bluegrass Jamming Class (in Carlisle) have been updated. Both classes will now be starting the weekend of April 7th and 8th.

 

The Bluegrass Band Ensemble Class is one of the most exciting classes I ever offer, and participation is on a first-come, first-served basis with usually only two spots available for each instrument. Here is a summary of the class, and complete details are listed towards the bottom of this post:

 

Bluegrass Band Ensemble Class (in North Cambridge)
  -  for those who want to learn how to play in a bluegrass band
  -  seven classes held most Saturdays from 11 am until 2 pm
  -  classes held in North Cambridge, near the Cambridge/Arlington border
  -  class meets on Apr. 7, 21 & 28, May 5 & 12, and June 2 & 9
  -  you are expected to attend all classes
  -  and you must be able to attend the performance on:
     Tuesday, June 12th at 8 pm at the Cantab Lounge in Central Sq.
  -  $185 tuition includes 21 hours of class time

 

And if you've never learned the finer points of my Vocal Tune Jams (where there is no set repertoire and we don't use handouts), then the Bluegrass Jamming Class is for you! Once again, here is a class summary, with complete details listed later in this post:


Bluegrass Jamming Class (in Carlisle)
  -  learn to jam on singing songs you may have never heard before
  -  directly related to the Vocal Tune Jams held at CCM and the Cantab
  -  five 75-minute classes held Sundays from 4 until 5:15 pm
  -  classes held at a private home in Carlisle, MA
  -  class meets on Apr. 8, 22 & 29, and May 6 & 13
  -  with potential make-up dates on May 20 and June 3
  -  $125 tuition includes various handouts and mp3's
  -  meets shortly before the 2-Hour Beg/Int Jam at the same location

 

 

UPCOMING JAMS

My jams are divided into two categories: (1) jams where we only play singing songs (a.k.a. "vocal tunes") and we never know what songs we're going to play, as opposed to (2) jams that feature mostly instrumentals with a few predetermined vocal tunes. Although focusing on only one of these two categories is probably a good idea early on, eventually, you will want to be able to jam in both kinds of environments. Here is a quick summary of my current offerings (by level, from beginner to advanced):

(1) Vocal Tune Jams
  -  Thursdays from 8 - 9:30 pm at CCM in W. Concord (beg/int)
  -  Tuesdays from 6 - 7:30 pm at the Cantab in Cambridge (int/adv)

(2) Jams that Feature Instrumentals
  -  Sundays from 6 - 8 pm in Carlisle (beg/int, all ages)
  -  Mondays from 7 - 9 pm in N. Cambridge (intermediate)
  -  Wednesdays from 7 - 10 pm in N. Cambridge (advanced)

And here are the specific details of THIS WEEK's JAMS in chronological order with the Confirmed Jam Series (CJS) details towards the end of this post:

THURSDAYS from 8 - 9:30 pm at CCM in W. Concord: Beg/Int Vocal Tune Jam
  -  please note: meets every Thursday (including TONIGHT), rsvp requested
  -  every Thursday from 8 until 9:30 pm (for all bluegrass instruments)
  -  no instrumentals, very fast vocal tunes, or difficult songs
  -  jams held at the Concord Conservatory of Music (CCM) in West Concord
  -  in the West Concord Union Church, 1317 Main St., Concord, MA 01742
  -  $15 per 90-minute jam session
  -  further details at https://concordconservatory.org/node/797

Please note: We will not be meeting in Carlisle this Sunday (3/25) nor next Sunday (4/1), but we will be back with both the class and jam on April 8th.


MONDAYS from 7 - 9 pm in N. Cambridge: 2-Hour Int. Jam
  -  please note: everybody who wants to attend must rsvp (even subscribers)
  -  every Monday from 7 until 9 pm (for all bluegrass instruments)
  -  CJS 3 of 6, upcoming jams on Mar. 26, and Apr. 2, 9 & 16
  -  every jam: Red Haired Boy (in A), Clinch Mountain Backstep (in A),
     Little Maggie (in A), and Cherokee Shuffle in A (time permitting)
  -  odd jams: Whiskey Before Breakfast (in D), I am a Pilgrim (in G),
     and Wayfaring Stranger (in Em)
  -  even jams: Nine Pound Hammer (in A), and Old Joe Clark (in A)
  -  odd/even comes from CJS (1 of 6 = odd, 2 of 6 = even, 3 of 6 = odd, etc.)
  -  average tempos: starting at 90 cpm (slow)
  -  CJS subscriber cost is $120 for 6 jams ($20 per 2-hour jam)
  -  per-jam "drop-in" cost for non-subscribers is $25 per 2-hour jam

 

TUESDAYS from 6 - 7:30 pm in Central Sq.: Cantab Int/Adv Vocal Tune Jam
  -  please note: the jam meets every Tuesday, no rsvp required
  -  every Tuesday at the Cantab Lounge in Central Sq. in Cambridge
  -  otherwise no instrumentals, very fast vocal tunes, or difficult songs
  -  the Cantab is located at 738 Mass. Ave. in Cambridge, MA 02139
  -  held upstairs at the Cantab immediately before bluegrass night
  -  this jam is open to the public with a $10 requested pass-the-hat donation
  -  further details at http://cantab-lounge.com/public_html/cantab_calendar.html


WEDNESDAYS from 7 - 9 pm in N. Cambridge: 2-Hour Adv. Jam
  -  please note: everybody who wants to attend must rsvp (even subscribers)
  -  every Wednesday from 7 until 9 pm (for all bluegrass instruments)
  -  CJS 2 of 6, upcoming jams on Mar. 28, and Apr. 4, 11, 18 & 25
  -  every jam: Whiskey Before Breakfast (in D), Clinch Mountain
     Backstep (in A), and Little Maggie (in A)
  -  odd jams: I am a Pilgrim (in G) and Wayfaring Stranger (in Em)
  -  even jams: Nine Pound Hammer (in A), Cherokee Shuffle (in A),
     Red Haired Boy (in A), and Old Joe Clark in A (time permitting)
  -  odd/even comes from CJS (1 of 6 = odd, 2 of 6 = even, 3 of 6 = odd, etc.)
  -  average tempos starting at roughly 100 cpm (slow)
  -  CJS subscriber cost is $120 for 6 jams ($20 per 2-hour jam)
  -  per-jam "drop-in" cost for non-subscribers is $25 per 2-hour jam

 

WEDNESDAYS from 9 - 10 pm in Cambridge: Songs Beyond Jam
  -  please note: everybody who wants to attend must rsvp (even subscribers)
  -  every Wednesday from 9 until 10 pm (for all bluegrass instruments)
  -  CJS 2 of 6, upcoming jams on Mar. 28, and Apr. 4, 11, 18 & 25
  -  odd jams: Bill Cheatham (in A), Big Spike Hammer (in A),
     Gold Rush (in A), and St. Anne's Reel (in D)
  -  even jams: Big Sciota (in G), Blackberry Blossom (in G),
     Fireball Mail (in G), and Billy in the Lowground (in C)
  -  odd/even comes from CJS (1 of 6 = odd, 2 of 6 = even, 3 of 6 = odd, etc.)
  -  average tempos starting at roughly 100 cpm (slow)
  -  CJS subscriber cost is $60 for 6 jams ($10 per hour-long jam)
  -  per-jam "drop-in" cost for non-subscribers is $15 per hour-long jam
  -  unless you are also attending the 2-Hour Fast Jam, in which case it's $10


FUTURE JAMS

 

SUNDAY, Apr. 8th from 6 - 8 pm in Carlisle: 2-Hour Beg/Int Jam
  -  please note: everybody who wants to attend must rsvp
  -  various Sundays from 6 until 8 pm (for all bluegrass instruments)
  -  repertoire: Old Joe Clark, I am a Pilgrim, Red Haired Boy,
     Nine Pound Hammer, and Whiskey Before Breakfast
  -  average tempos starting at roughly 70 cpm (slow)
  -  upcoming jams on Apr. 8, 22 & 29, and May 6 & 13
  -  per-jam cost is $25 per 2-hour jam
  -  jams held at a private home in Carlisle, MA


SATURDAY, Apr. 14th at 7 pm at CCM: Second Saturday Bluegrass Jam
  -  held in W. Concord at CCM (co-sponsored by the BBU and CCM)
  -  jam meets every second Saturday of the month, no rsvp required
  -  upcoming jams on Apr. 14th, May 12th, and June 9th
  -  held at the Concord Conservatory of Music
  -  1317 Main Street, Concord, MA 01742 (enter on Pine St.)
  -  please note: this is an open jam for beginners up to advanced pickers
  -  it's not a "teacher-directed jam" but a teacher or two will be there
  -  open to all bluegrass jammers with a $5 fee
  -  further details at concordconservatory.org/Second_Saturday_Bluegrass_Jam

UPCOMING CAMPS

This year I will be at a bunch of weekend-long camps where I will be teaching and/or helping organize in other ways. All of these camps offer amazing environments in which to focus on your instrument (or voice) while in the company of dozens or hundreds of like-minded people. Here are the camps I'll be at this year in chronological order (and please let them know I sent you!):

 

Guitar & Mandolin Camp North -- April 13, 14 & 15
Prindle Pond Conference Ctr. in Charlton, MA (one hour west of Boston)
I am a teacher, the Jam Coordinator, and the Beginner Track Coordinator
http://musiccampsnorth.com/2018-guitar-mandolin-camp-north/

 

Banjo Camp North -- May 18, 29 & 20
Prindle Pond Conference Ctr. in Charlton, MA (one hour west of Boston)
I am a teacher, the Jam Coordinator, and the Beginner Track Coordinator
http://musiccampsnorth.com/2018-banjo-camp-north/

 

Ashokan's First-Ever Bluegrass Camp -- October 26, 27 & 28
Ashokan Center in Olivebridge, NY (near Woodstock, 3.5 hours west of Boston)
I am the Camp Coordinator and have hired some incredible teachers:
     Tony Trischka (banjo, www.tonytrischka.com)
     Claire Lynch (singing, www.clairelynch.com)
     Matt Flinner (mandolin, www.mattflinner.com)
     Becky Buller (fiddle, www.beckybuller.com)
     Scott Nygaard (guitar, www.scottnygaard.com)
     and Mike Bub (bass, www.facebook.com/olebubbybass)
Further details at https://ashokan.org/bluegrass-camp/

 

Fiddle Hell Massachusetts -- November 1 through 4
Westford Regency Inn in Westford, MA (45 minutes northwest of Boston)
I am a teacher and bluegrass jam leader
http://fiddlehell.org/


UPCOMING CLASSES

 

Bluegrass Band Ensemble Class (in North Cambridge)
  -  for those who want to learn how to play in a bluegrass band
  -  seven classes held most Saturdays from 11 am until 2 pm
  -  classes held in North Cambridge, near the Cambridge/Arlington border
  -  class meets on Apr. 7, 21 & 28, May 5 & 12, and June 2 & 9
  -  you are expected to attend all classes
  -  and you must be able to attend the performance on:
     Tuesday, June 12th at 8 pm at the Cantab Lounge in Central Sq.
  -  $185 tuition includes 21 hours of class time

 

Have you ever wondered why some bands sound so good when compared to some jams? Well, of course, it's partially due to the rehearsal time some bands spend working on music together, but it's usually a lot more than that. And what do bands work on when they get together to rehearse that makes them sound so good?

In the Bluegrass Band Ensemble Class, we'll explore some of the aspects that make bluegrass in a band setting different from bluegrass in a jam setting. We'll cover a wide variety of ways to arrange a song, from instrumental licks to vocal tricks, and then we'll be putting that knowledge to good use.

 

We will be limiting the class to between 8 and 12 people, and we will be trying to get a mixture of as many bluegrass instruments as possible. Starting in our first class we will be splitting up the class into two separate bands that will remain together for the entire course. These two bands will then work each week to create and learn arrangements to a limited repertoire of songs that they will perform at the completion of the course.

 

In this class, we will spend time listening to classic bluegrass recordings, studying arrangements of well-known bluegrass songs, and then applying the concepts we learn to our in-class bands. The bands will have time to rehearse together as part of the class time and will perform for each other as the course progresses. At the end of the class, we will culminate our work with at least one performance, which all students must be able to attend.

 

There are no prerequisite songs, and you don't need to be able to read music or play lead. The Bluegrass Band Ensemble Class is open to all instruments, all levels - both rhythm and lead players - but it is geared towards those who are comfortable singing and/or taking solos.

 

To help better split up the class, please let me know if you play more than one instrument (and if so what your primary instrument is), and if you sing lead and/or any harmony lines (and which ones). If we are short on bass players, I will be available to quickly train a non-bass player to play acoustic-electric (or full-electric) bass.

 

Bluegrass Jamming Class (in Carlisle)
  -  learn to jam on singing songs you may have never heard before
  -  directly related to the Vocal Tune Jams held at CCM and the Cantab
  -  five 75-minute classes held Sundays from 4 until 5:15 pm
  -  classes held at a private home in Carlisle, MA
  -  class meets on Apr. 8, 22 & 29, and May 6 & 13
  -  with potential make-up dates on May 20 and June 3
  -  $125 tuition includes various handouts and mp3's
  -  meets shortly before the 2-Hour Beg/Int Jam at the same location

 

The Bluegrass Jamming Class is open to all instruments, all levels, and the only requirement is that you're able to switch between G, C, D and A smoothly. This class will be focused on jamming on vocal songs that you may have never heard before and will cover a variety of skills that I don't normally teach in my other jams and classes.

 

The primary difference between this Bluegrass Jamming Class and my regular classes and jams is that the jamming class uses no handouts (other than the lyrics for the lead singer if necessary). Therefore students learn important skills such as how to follow a guitar player's chords, and how to build a basic bluegrass solo by ear. These are important jamming skills that you may find crucial to joining the Vocal Tune Jams that I host weekly at CCM in W. Concord and at the Cantab in Cambridge (where there is no set repertoire and no handouts). Because of these core differences, the Bluegrass Jamming Class is appropriate for people who would attend any of my jams between the Beginner and Intermediate/Advanced levels.

 

Please note: this class will be meeting before the 2-Hour Beg/Int Jam in Carlisle on Sundays, and everybody is welcome to attend both (and be fed between classes by our incredibly generous hosts).


CONFIRMED JAM SERIES

Here are the basic details of the Confirmed Jam Series (and please let me know if you have any additional questions):

(1) a Confirmed Jam Series (CJS) is a set of jams that will definitely meet barring something out of my control (like snow or the Earls of Leicester)
(2) you don't have to be a CJS "subscriber" to attend any of my jams
(3) you can start attending as a "subscriber" or "non-subscriber" at any time (you don't have to wait for the current CJS to end before joining us)
(4) you're invited to sign up in advance (as soon as right now) for the next CJS
(5) once you subscribe, you're expected to attend every jam in the CJS
(6) AND you must let me know asap if you cannot attend any jam
(7) BUT you won't have to pay for missing any jams if you let me know the date(s) of the jam(s) you'll miss at the beginning of the CJS
(8) AND if you miss a confirmed jam without letting me know in advance, you can attend any other confirmed jam on a DIFFERENT night within the next two months

 

And here are the specific details of the Confirmed Jam Series:

MONDAYS from 7 - 9 pm: 2-Hour Intermediate Jam (for all instruments)
  -  six Mondays in North Cambridge, near the Cambridge/Arlington border
  -  Confirmed Jam Sessions on Mar. 5, 19 & 26, and Apr. 2, 9 & 16
  -  if you cannot attend any of these, please let me know as soon as possible
  -  every jam: Red Haired Boy (in A), Clinch Mountain Backstep (in A),
     Little Maggie (in A), and Cherokee Shuffle in A (time permitting)
  -  odd jams: Whiskey Before Breakfast (in D), I am a Pilgrim (in G),
     and Wayfaring Stranger (in Em)
  -  even jams: Nine Pound Hammer (in A), and Old Joe Clark (in A)
  -  odd/even comes from CJS (1 of 6 = odd, 2 of 6 = even, 3 of 6 = odd, etc.)
  -  average tempos starting at roughly 90 cpm (slow)
  -  CJS subscriber cost is $120 for 6 jams ($20 per 2-hour jam)
  -  per-jam "drop-in" cost for non-subscribers is $25 per 2-hour jam

 

WEDNESDAYS from 7 - 9 pm: 2-Hour Advanced Jam (for all instruments)
  -  six Wednesdays in North Cambridge, near the Cambridge/Arlington border
  -  Confirmed Jam Sessions on Mar. 14 & 28, and Apr. 4, 11, 18 & 25
  -  if you cannot attend any of these, please let me know as soon as possible
  -  every jam: Whiskey Before Breakfast (in D), Clinch Mountain
     Backstep (in A), and Little Maggie (in A)
  -  odd jams: I am a Pilgrim (in G) and Wayfaring Stranger (in Em)
  -  even jams: Nine Pound Hammer (in A), Cherokee Shuffle (in A),
     Red Haired Boy (in A), and Old Joe Clark in A (time permitting)
  -  odd/even comes from CJS (1 of 6 = odd, 2 of 6 = even, 3 of 6 = odd, etc.)
  -  average tempos starting at roughly 100 cpm (slow)
  -  CJS subscriber cost is $120 for 6 jams ($20 per 2-hour jam)
  -  per-jam "drop-in" cost for non-subscribers is $25 per 2-hour jam

 

WEDNESDAYS from 9 - 10 pm: Songs Beyond Jam (for all instruments)
  -  six Wednesdays in North Cambridge, near the Cambridge/Arlington border
  -  Confirmed Jam Sessions on Mar. 14, 21 & 28, and Apr. 4, 11 & 18
  -  if you cannot attend any of these, please let me know as soon as possible
  -  odd jams: Bill Cheatham (in A), Big Spike Hammer (in A),
     Gold Rush (in A), and St. Anne's Reel (in D)
  -  even jams: Big Sciota (in G), Blackberry Blossom (in G),
     Fireball Mail (in G), and Billy in the Lowground (in C)
  -  odd/even comes from CJS (1 of 6 = odd, 2 of 6 = even, 3 of 6 = odd, etc.)
  -  average tempos starting at roughly 100 cpm (slow)
  -  CJS subscriber cost is $60 for 6 jams ($10 per hour-long jam)
  -  per-jam "drop-in" cost is $15 (or $10 if you also attend the 2-Hour Fast Jam)

 

Vocal Tune Jam Details

I host two weekly Vocal Tune Jams on Tuesdays and Thursdays (details above). Here are some additional details about these jams:


(1) unlike my other jams, we don't know what songs we'll be playing each week
(2) we don't play instrumentals, very fast vocal tunes, or obscure/difficult songs
(3) you don't need to be able to sing, but it's more fun if you can
(4) improvising solos is also not required, but it's more fun if you can
(5) the best preparation is to learn a common bluegrass song to sing with us

And here are some specific details about the Cantab Jam:

(1) Int/Adv Vocal Tune Jam meets Tuesdays at the Cantab Lounge
(2) the jam meets every Tuesday from 6 until 7:30, no rsvp required
(3) the Cantab Lounge is one block from the Red Line, or try these "secret" parking spots:

 

There are six parking spaces very near the Cantab that are almost always free if you can get there at exactly 5:55 pm. These six parking spaces are all loading zones (that means tow zones) up until 6 pm, but if you arrive at 5:55 they are almost always empty. You can then sit in your car for a couple minutes, after which the parking spaces become non-tow zones and are free. There are two of these spots directly in front of the Cantab and the 7-11 on the corner, but don't park in the handicapped spot unless you have the placard! And there are four more of these loading-zone-until-6-pm spots directly across Mass. Ave. from the Cantab in front Pill Hardware down to the 1369 Coffee House.

 

 

North Cambridge Location

Lessons, jams, classes, etc. are usually held a half mile from where Rt. 2 hits Cambridge at the Alewife T station. This location is one block from the intersection of Rt. 16 and Mass. Ave., near the Cambridge/Arlington border. There is plenty of meter-free, permit-free parking on Mass. Ave., but please be advised that traffic can be very heavy around the intersection of Mass. Ave. and Rt. 16, so please allow for extra time to get here. The location is also only a 10-minute walk from Alewife and 15 minutes from Davis Sq., but if you are going to take public transportation, please let me know so I can recommend how best to get here.

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