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Event Series Event Series: Saturday Bluegrass Casual

Saturday Bluegrass Casual

October 16, 2027 @ 12:00 pm - 2:00 pm

The Tranzac Saturday Bluegrass Casual jam takes place every Saturday, 12-2 pm. It is free to participate (a hat is passed at the end to help defray expenses). 


The jam is open to all players of bluegrass instruments and singers of bluegrass songs who feel confident enough to lead a song or two. Bluegrass instruments are: steel-string acoustic guitar, mandolin, fiddle, 5-string banjo, dobro, and upright bass.


We play singing songs and fiddle tunes from the bluegrass canon at an intermediate level. Our preference is for singing songs with 3 or 4 chords, and for fiddle tunes that are known by at least half of the group. We do not play very difficult fiddle tunes, country rock songs, or original songs.


Ideal jam songs can be found on recordings by The Carter Family, Bill Monroe, Flatt and Scruggs, Jim and Jesse, The Kentucky Colonels, The Stanley Brothers, Osborne Brothers, Hazel and Alice, Del McCoury, etc. After 2 or 3 easy tunes, we open it up to suggestions from jam members, and most everything flies. A subtle veto power, however, is reserved to prevent jam-busting.  


Some members will feel the need to refer to written music and lyrics; this is fine, but should be kept to a minimum. Singing the same verse over and over is preferable to getting every word of every verse right. 


Nobody is ever forced to call or lead a tune. Jam members should avoid calling too many tunes if others have not had a chance. Some care is exercised, as well, to make sure that there are not too many songs in the same key/time-feel in a row. Once a tune is called, everyone should quiet down in order to listen to the tune-leader run through the chord changes and any salient details of the song. The ideal format for this process of explication is the Nashville Number System; attaining knowledge of the NNS should be a priority for every jam participant.  


For singing songs, the singer should ask for an intro or play one herself, and then alternate between singing (usually a verse and a chorus) and solos, which are passed around clockwise or counter-clockwise. Slower songs should, in general, have split solos, and a decision should be made before each song starts regarding which parts of the song will be soloed over. Players are never required to solo, but they should indicate well in advance of their turn that they are passing by making eye contact with and nodding at the next person. Solos should be played loudly and clearly enough to register as "solos."  


For fiddle tunes, the process is largely the same. Care must be taken not to let tempos creep up. We don't play tunes "old time style" (everyone playing together at once without solos).  


We have worked hard as a collective to build a jam that is friendly, encouraging, egalitarian, politically progressive, LGBTQ+-welcoming, and anti-racist. It is everyone's responsibility to call out behavior or language that violates that spirit. 


Everyone is assumed to be equal at this jam because everyone is equal at this jam. Our collective responsibility is to support each other. A jam is not a performance. Perfection is not the goal. We are all training to be better listeners and supporters of each other.


Lately, some members of the general public have been dropping in to watch the jam. This is great! But we try to emphasize that this is an open workshop, not a finished product. In order to accommodate listeners, participants should stow their cases in the jam area and leave tables free of clutter. Members of the public may not "join the jam" by playing along outside of the circle.  


Participants should aim to arrive on time. Late entrants should try to slide in quietly. Arrivals after 1 pm are not great, and arrivals after 1:30 pm are not allowed. 


We are lucky to have bar staff serve us coffee and other beverages. Please tip them generously, and bus your glasses back to the bar. 


There is a jam immediately following ours, and members often begin to arrive well before we are finished. (Some of our participants participate in that jam, as well). We must conclude our music by 2 pm.  


We look very forward to seeing you next Saturday!


October 16, 2027
12:00 pm - 2:00 pm
Event Category:


Southern Cross Lounge, Tranzac Club
292 Brunswick Ave
Toronto, ON M5S 2M7 Canada
+ Google Map
(416) 923-8137

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