Monday, June 14, 2010

Who are the people in your neighborhood?

Where's the music? Where's your neighborhood?

One of the most frequent excuses that I hear is that folks would play more if there were more old time players in their area. It's hard to convince people that there are probably players around because it truly does feel like you're on an island without any other [fill in the blank], banjo players, OT guitar players, fiddlers, etc.

My friend in Pennsylvania has had great success with bringing players together. When I first met up with her, she was saying that there was not enough players in her area. Next thing I hear, she'd organized a monthly jam, posting notices online and around town. Now I hear she's organizing dances. I should point out that we first started corresponding on the Fiddle Hangout. Didn't meet face-to-face until we made arrangements to find each other at a festival.

So, what people think is local really needs a revisit, in my opinion. Geographically, local means one thing. Over time, local might not be as local as you think.

I have a solid group of friends that I only see at festivals. They live far away from me. Heck, I have a batch of jamming friends 12,000 miles away in Australia. Now I realize not everyone can travel around regularly to that extent. But, if you can't find folks to jam with nearby, perhaps you'd like to try widening your scope.

Reach out to folks online, post on a forum, be more descriptive in your profile so folks know what you like. People do travel now-a-days much more than ever. Maybe you can meet up from time to time at a festival. Or, travel plans can be adjusted to match a local event. I used to love traveling for work because I could schedule my trips to NYC to include an OT jam in Greenwich Village, something I'd never be able to do on my own. I include those folks amongst my favorite and long time OT friends and run into them 4 or 5 times a year at festivals. (That's more than I see some of my local friends.)

Travel a little yourself. I decided to take a 2 hour ride this past weekend over to western Massachusetts from my hometown of Albany, NY to meet up with some festival buddies. The event was publicized on Facebook. Now, now, I hear half of you moaning about 50 reasons not to flush your time down the Facebook toilet, but hear me out. That sort of distance is not something I'd normally do for a few hours of fiddling, but I had a chance to get in a real nice visit and a real nice session. Next time I run into those folks, there'll be a bigger repertoire of tunes and preferences that we'll share. I learned a thing or three more about banjo playing and bass runs, too.

Since you're reading this online, you already know the advantages of finding and sharing information on the internet. Maybe it's time to update your bookmarks, download a few more chord charts / tunelists / bowing patterns / sound files / pdf notation / and whatnot.

Heck, maybe your situation has changed and you can devote a little more time to learning that second / third / fourth instrument. Next time you find yourself whinging that there's no other [fill in the blank], banjo players, OT guitar players, fiddlers, etc. in your area, you can look in the mirror.


Festival recordings

Fiddle Jammer homepage


Anonymous said...

Totally agree. So many people say they can't find friends to play with... the Old Timey world is a friendly and welcoming one, as you bear witness. For one specific aid to finding music friends, try which lists hundreds of ongoing jams around the country.

bj said...

Geez, I come here looking for a tune and find out you wrote about me months ago! LOL! Guess I should visit more often.

Dance is awaiting the grant funding for the wood floor necessary, so it'll be awhile. But we did start another jam in the place where we'll be having the dance. So now I'm running one and helping run another.

Our local OT community has really blossomed. Just to talk a bit more about how easy it can be-- Around 9 months back we needed a new venue. I sent out six emails to various churches and community centers and such. Explained we had no budget but would be willing to "sing for our supper" so to speak, and got two responses. We now jam at a wonderful church hall located a block from the highway exit in a lovely restored historic building with light/heat/ac/working bathrooms! We play a half dozen church events during the year in exchange for the privilege, and have had a couple of the church members join our jam. It's the perfect win-win!

When I first got the jam started, I used, the various online Hangouts, and I put flyers out at ALL the local jams, including the Irish Trad and Bluegrass jams, as well as the OT jams. I also got us on our local PBS radio station calendar, and a mention on their weekly oldtime show (thanks to Tom Druckenmiller.) I also used Craigslist to let people know I was starting a jam. None of this promo cost a single penny, and it didn't take all that much time or effort.

We're planning on starting a local fiddlecamp festival next summer/fall, so I'll keep you posted.

Susan said...

I just want to let you know that I really appreciate the tunes that you recorded from various OT events. I saw your link to this blog on Fiddle Hangout (you're on my friends list). I've fiddled for about 9 years playing NE Contra dance and Quebecois tunes. I joined an old time string band two years ago and I'm looking for all the tunes & technique that I can find.
Thanks again,
Sue H.

Ter said...

Thanks for stopping by, y'all. Nice to know that folks are out there reading and listening and giving such nice feedback!