blue jam

At the Stork Club in Oakland last night, Amanda and I joined Emily & Matthew to listen to a bluegrass jam.

It was a great experience. On a Monday night, the bar was dead, but at about 9:30 p.m., guys started drifting in with their instruments, eventually taking over the entire front room. There, they formed a circle of about 15 musicians, all facing in and playing to each other. One musician would suggest a standard and everyone would play along as best they could, with room for playing a solo granted to each player in the circle in a clockwise direction.

The four of us made up 4/5ths of the audience… everyone else, whether in the circle or haunting the periphery and strumming along as practice, were there to play.

Highlights include:

) The shy harmonica player, sitting at a table outside the circle, playing the absolute best musical accents, but mostly to himself

) The upright bass player who walked his enormous bass around the inside of the circle as a human indicator of who should be soloing, to keep everyone on pace. He also later kept up his bass line with a single hand while drinking a beer with his other and almost no one noticed this magical feat.

Anyway, I recorded a bit with the low-quality recorder on my phone and it sounds like it was beamed from another country… which kinda helps, in my opinion. If you share my AM radio aesthetics, maybe you’ll dig it.