Monday, February 11, 2013

a bar with texas in the name, up on 50th, has an open jam every sunday night and has apparently done this for twenty, thirty years. i didn't know what they meant by "open jam" so i brought my fiddle. i didn't prepare anything, though; i wasn't ready for the fact that it was a kind of open mike, everyone signing up to play a few songs and then stepping down for someone else to get up there. it was a bit smoky. a large texas flag stood behind the musicians.

a couple of guys and rotating drummers played backup, and they were good, if only by virtue of having backed up hundreds. even in the night i was there, there were dozens, and some people wanted them to do almost all the work. others took over the stage and let those three take a break. there was a wide variety of kinds of music, hendrix, rock, red dirt country, blues, you name it. just about everything but bluegrass. i was interested in the red dirt country. it's texish, country, a little faster than your usual. i don't know much else about it.

i sat near one musician who i got along with and we watched a parade, some better than others, until about midnight when i couldn't take it any more; i was tired and my eyes itched from the smoke. but i heard impressive music, all texas, all well made. and one fairly incredible thing: no fiddles. none. one entire band had three guitars, no fiddle. people were friendly to me. it was strangely as if all the good fiddlers had moved off to austin or wherever, and there was nobody left, and everyone needed a good fiddler because the world was full of pretty good guitar players, but there weren't a whole lot of fiddlers around. this in fact was what it was like playing bluegrass too. they may be out there, those good fiddlers, but they all have work and don't need to go haunting around on sunday night looking for someone to play with.

a couple of the musicians were excellent. the bar was busy and waitresses came around a lot serving beer and whatever, though much of the crowd performed at one time or another or was related to someone who did. "open jam" was kind of like what we would call "open mike" up north, with lots of people signing up and performing various things. i think you see a parade of people's dreams, of being on stage, playing the crowd and all, and you know not everyone's going to make it. that's ok. i snuck out southbound, came home and took off my smoky clothes. the music is not bad, i could go in the direction of red dirt country, and might give it a shot. they seem to need fiddlers.


Anonymous bruce said...

Hey, how about the cello? Not to mention, you could bring a piano in some night.

11:52 AM  
Blogger tom said...

It's there every Sunday. It's got a great pair of backup guys, one bass and one lead, along with a drummer, who love to just play whatever you want. Lots of guys go up there and do karaoke; they have bad rhythm, or bad tone, bad voice, or whatever that has prevented them from making it over the years, but these two guys play pretty well behind them and the band manages to salvage a pretty good set out of everything. They have told me I could play just about anything, blues, bluegrass, whatever. What an opportunity! All I have to do is tolerate the smoke.

10:11 PM  

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