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Updates

Summer 2014

Thanks to everybody who came by on Monday for my Open House Slow Jam. We had a great time, and ended up playing for two and a half hours! Based on the strong response on Monday, I am adding a third night of jamming - primarily for those who want to play the first four songs slower than we do on Thursdays.

This week I am also announcing two new classes: Beginning Bluegrass Lead Flatpicking Guitar weekly on Mondays at 8:30 pm (starting on July 14th), and a class I'm calling "Advanced Repertoire Building for All Instruments" every other week on Wednesdays at 8:30 pm (starting next Wednesday, July 9th). Although it's been a while, I have offered the same Beginning Bluegrass Lead Flatpicking Guitar course before, but the Advanced Repertoire Building class deserves a brief explanation:

The Advanced Repertoire Building class is designed for those who attend the 7 pm Wednesday "First 4 Songs Fast" jams, or are comfortable playing and creating solos to similar tunes. In this class we use a self-directed approach to work on a set of new songs, both instrumentals and vocals, and at the end of the class we will hopefully be able to add these songs to our weekly Wednesday repertoire (see below for further class details). But in an added twist, I'm going to poll the class beforehand and find out which songs they would like to work on as part of the class!

And of course, one last reminder that the Bluegrass Band class begins next Tuesday, July 8th. There's still room in the class for one or two more folks, especially a bass player or somebody who wants to take up the bass. In the past we've had multiple guitar and banjo players learn bass just for the class, and they've always had a great time!

THIS WEEK'S JAM SESSIONS

Here is a listing of this week's jams, and more details can be found at the bottom of this e-mail, and on-line at www.tonywattbluegrass.com/jam_sessions/:

NEW! Mondays at 7 pm - Level 2 - "First 4 Songs Slow" Jam Session
- every Monday from 7 - 8:30 pm (for ALL instruments)
- repertoire: Old Joe Clark, I am a Pilgrim, Red Haired Boy and Nine Pound Hammer
- average tempos: starting at 65 cpm (slow)

Wednesdays at 7 pm - Level 4 - "First 4 Songs Fast" Jam Session
- every Wednesday from 7 - 8:30 pm (for ALL instruments)
- repertoire: Old Joe Clark, I am a Pilgrim, Red Haired Boy and Nine Pound Hammer
- average tempos starting at roughly 75 cpm (slow) and up to 100+ cpm

Wednesdays at 8:30 pm - Level 5 - "Songs 5-10 Fast" Jam Session
- most Wednesdays from 8:30 - 10 pm (for ALL instruments)
- repertoire: Billy in the Lowground, Fireball Mail, Whiskey Before Breakfast,
Wayfaring Stranger, Blackberry Blossom and Gold Rush
- average tempos starting at roughly 75 cpm (slow) and up to 100+ cpm

Thursdays at 7 pm - Level 3 - "First 4 Songs Medium" Jam Session
- every Thursday from 7 - 8:30 pm (for ALL instruments)
- repertoire: Old Joe Clark, I am a Pilgrim, Red Haired Boy, Nine Pound Hammer
- average tempos: starting at roughly 70 cpm (slow)

Space is limited in the jam sessions; see below for further details, and e-mail me at tonywatt@gmail.com if you're interested in joining us or have any questions whatsoever.

UPCOMING SHOWS

Southeast Expressway at Cathedral of the Pines on Sunday, July 13th -- Cathedral of the Pines in Rindge, NH is having it's first-ever single-day bluegrass festival called Bluegrass at the Pines. We are extremely excited about this show because our good friend, and Laura's former band-mate, Eric Troutman is driving up from central PA (where he lives and plays in Danny Paisley's band) to sit in with us. Eric is one of the best young singers and bass players in all of bluegrass, and we're really psyched to have him join us. The show starts at noon on Sunday, July 13th and I think we're playing at 3 and 7 pm. Here's the description of the event:

Please join us for a family day of fun with music, food, and activities. Jammers welcome! Bring your instruments, join your friends, make new friends jamming under the pines! Bring a blanket and enjoy a picnic whether you bring your own or purchase something from the grill. While you relax and enjoy the music we will have face painting, games, and kite flying for the kids. Admission is $25 per person in advance, $30 day of purchase. Please contact us at 603-899-3300 or laurie@cathedralofthepines.org to purchase tickets or for more information. Bands will be Hot Mustard, Tony Watt & Southeast Expressway, Bump Road Band, and The Moonlight Ramblers.

UPCOMING WORKSHOPS

I am extremely excited to announce that The Bluegrass University will be offering a set of six FREE two-hour, hands-on classes on Thursday, July 17th at The Grey Fox Bluegrass Festival in Oak Hill, NY (www.greyfoxbluegrass.com). These classes will be led by an all-star line-up of teachers including Lauren Rioux (fiddle), Ira Gitlin (banjo), Chris Moore (mandolin), Stash Wyslouch (guitar), and me teaching two separate classes: bluegrass jamming (at 11 am) and harmony singing (at 3 pm).

Grey Fox’s Bluegrass University classes are designed for beginners, or those looking for a review of the fundamentals. These hands-on classes are free of charge; just bring an instrument, a chair, and be ready to learn! All six classes will be held at either the Slow Jam Tent or the Grass Roots Tent between 11 am and 5 pm on Thursday, July 17th. Please visit www.greyfoxbluegrass.com/ws/pages/stages-greyfoxuniversity.php for the complete schedule.

UPCOMING CLASSES

(1) Advanced Repertoire Building for All Instruments

This class is intended for those who already know how to solo on at least a few fiddle tunes and know how to construct breaks to vocal tunes. Specifically, this class is designed for those who attend the 7 pm Wednesday "First 4 Songs Fast" jams, or are comfortable playing similar tunes at similar tempos. In this course we will cover new songs, soloing ideas, licks, etc. and learn from each other's solos as well. We will work on both instrumentals and vocals that we can hopefully add to our weekly Wednesday repertoire, but in an added twist, I'm going to poll the class beforehand and find out which songs they would like to work on as part of the class!

Advanced Repertoire Building for All Instruments
- Every other Wednesday from 8:30 until 9:45 pm
- for those who know how to construct their own solos
- classes held in Cambridge, MA 02140 near the Arlington border
- four 75-minute classes, held every other Wednesday from 8:30 until 9:45 pm
- class meets on July 9th and 23rd, and August 6th and 20th
- $85 for five hours of class time

(2) Beginning Bluegrass Lead Flatpicking Guitar

This class is intended for those who are new to playing bluegrass lead guitar, or who have been frustrated trying to learn to play lead before. In this course we'll learn how to read tablature (tab), how to play fiddle tunes and take breaks on vocal tunes (including carter style, crosspicking, and single-string soloing), and get an introduction to improvisation. The primary focus will be on developing fundamental lead guitar skills, as well as helping students improve their practice and self-directed learning. You don't need to have previous experience playing any style of guitar, or know how to read music.

Beginning Bluegrass Lead Flatpicking Guitar
- Mondays from 8:30 until 9:45 pm
- for those who are new to lead bluegrass guitar or want a review of the basics
- classes held in Cambridge, MA 02140 near the Arlington border
- six 75-minute classes, held every Monday from 8:30 until 9:45 pm
- class meets on July 14th, 21st and 28th, and August 4th, 11th and 18th
- includes a corresponding book and companion CD
- $135 for BBU members ($145 for non-members)

(3) Bluegrass Band Ensemble Class

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 this 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 in to 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 two 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 us 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 Band Ensemble Class
- Tuesdays from 7 until 9:30 pm
- classes held in Cambridge, MA 02140 near the Arlington border
- six classes held every Tuesday from 7 until 9:30 pm
- July 8th, 15th, 22nd and 29th, and August 5th and 12th
- you are expected to attend nearly all classes but can miss one or two
- but you must be able to attend the performance:
- Tuesday, August 19th at 8 pm at The Cantab Lounge in Central Sq.
- $145 tuition which includes 15 hours of class time

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Thanks so much!