I had been hearing about this mythical jam session that happens every Sunday in Jervey Gantt Park for quite some time and I decided to have a look for myself. I arrived at the park around 13:00 and pulled into the west side, near the volley ball courts off 17th St. A few steps away, there were several clusters of musicians spread throughout the groves of trees.
I was pleasantly surprised at the variety and quality of music being played. There was bluegrass, country (the old stuff, not this so-called “new country”), folk, gospel and even some mellow acoustic rock. I heard “Amazing Grace”, “Blue Moon Of Kentucky”, a little Marty Robbins, Grateful Dead and even some Johnny Cash.
All the while, everything is very laid back. Folks will say hello and share a story with you. A gentleman named “Steve” informed me that a good portion of the folks who play here are “snowbirds” and while the things thin out during spring and summer, there are still people playing every Sunday. If you show up with an instrument, no one minds if you sit in. If you are still learning and you miss a note or chord you will be gently reminded “No, that’s a D, not a B.” and so on.
In addition to meeting musicians, you will meet some really interesting people. I met one such gentleman, General Douglas McArther Preston. That’s his real name; he showed me his Social Security card. He was sitting on a bench happily playing guitar with a friend.
Treat yourself to an afternoon of music and meeting your neighbors under the trees. Bring your lawn chairs, instruments and a picnic basket. This is a great way to spend an afternoon and you won’t be disappointed.
(Originally published 2.20.2011)