My first blues music jam happened after the regular French music jam

It’s been over two months since the last French music jam, which was in November. I didn’t write about it because there was nothing particularly remarkable about it compared to the whole past year of French music jams: there was Lisa, John, Allison, a new fiddler Liz, and Leslie joining us on banjo again.

Tonight, an addition was made to the program. For some time I had suggested to Lisa that for French/blues dance night, maybe there should be a blues jam in addition to the French jam. She liked that idea, got hold of people she knew who were interested, and so tonight was the first blues jam!

It was actually my first full participation in a blues jam.

I was very anxious, but I’ve grown somewhat used to feeling anxious at least once a month in the past two years pushing myself into unfamiliar territory repeatedly.

In addition, there were some changes for the French jam. Here’s how the evening went.

French jam

For this new year of French music jamming, John, Lisa, and others have kicked things off by transcribing some of their favorite tunes by listening to recordings, watching YouTube, or from memory, in order to share so that we can learn and play them. John couldn’t make it tonight, ironically, because he was sick, but I was very exciting that we started exploring a lot of new tunes.

When I showed up, it was just Lisa on fiddle, Allison on piano (she also brought her button accordion), and me. Enough to get going. (I switched between Irish flute and modern flute as needed depending on the key.) Later, Donna also showed up, on fiddle, and Jess showed up, on clarinet.

We played for quite some time, including old favorites we already knew, for the dancers, and learning some new tunes. I think we were at it for two hours.

Blues jam

As some of the French dance crowd went home and the blues dance crowd came in, the blues jam began. There was Anders on piano, whom I recognized from his having played blues indoors at a summer party; I may have seen him elsewhere also at contra dance or something. I met Michael and Billy, who both had guitars and harmonicas. And all three of them were apparently willing to sing!

I was really intimidated. I’m still totally, utterly a novice at blues, although I started working on that last year. I wasn’t even sure whether I shouldn’t pack up my flute and go home. After all, I’d already spent a lot of time on music this evening.

But something happened that made me stay! Allison seemed like she was about to pack up too, but was curious, and stayed. No longer on piano, she was on her button accordion. We both confessed to never having done this before, but stayed on. I thought she was doing quite well. I wasn’t doing so well, but I participated in bits. (But no, I did not sing.)

As for playing for dancers, I think the dancers were sometimes confused by the experiment, because they didn’t have their usual iTunes playlist to dance to. Not everything we did was really suitable to the dancing they wanted to do. We’ll have to eventually figure out what works for the dancers.


Basically, when it came to my first blues jam experience, I felt sort of the way I did when I first got into playing French music eight months ago: anxious, uncertain, embarrassed. But if I work at this and get more comfortable and better, the feeling will pass.

I’d like to do more blues jamming. There is a bit of a problem in that this has made for a very long and late evening. I think that’s just the nature of the blues music/dance world. I’ll have to plan my schedule accordingly if I want to integrate a regular blues jam into my life.

And of course, I should continue my studies of the blues.

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