From time to time, people show up my house for a jam session.
My cousin Tony Bonta, a member of the up-and-coming Bald Mountain Band, and his fellow Baltimore-area musician Terry McBride stopped by Tyrone to pick up my brother Steve on their way to a Hillbilly Gypsies concert in northern Pennsylvania. They had just enough time for a quick jam session in Plummer’s Hollow.
This is a true jam in the sense that we hadn’t practiced anything together, and a couple of us were less than expert. Terry (who also plays a very credible banjo) is still learning the fiddle, and said he felt somewhat abashed about playing it in front of others but forces himself to anyway. Steve is an great frailer but hadn’t played some of these tunes in that style before, so was picking it up on the fly. I wasn’t going to join in on the harmonica but couldn’t help myself. (Note that I wasn’t intentionally hiding from the camera; there just wasn’t any way to fit us all into the frame without being a camera nazi and ordering everyone about.)
Regular readers will remember a podcast feature I did about these same three guys and their thoughts on banjo playing the last time they stopped by.
Because of my slow internet speed, it’s excruciating to try and upload too large a file, so I was very selective here — perhaps too selective. I wish now I’d included more of the two-banjo conversation between Tony and Steve. Because three-finger style players and frailers are in two separate, usually warring moieties (bluegrass vs. old-time), and because most bands only have one banjo player, one doesn’t hear this combination nearly often enough. I could’ve listened to it all afternoon.