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Pauline Lerner

Jamming in the mountains

April 29, 2007 at 4:45 AM

I had a great time last Saturday at a jam party in the Catoctin Mountains. Although that area is only about 100 miles from Washington DC, it is very different. It is not urban, not suburban, but rural – affluent rural. The air is clean. The fields and trees are green. The stars are bright and beautiful. The peepers (tree frogs) are loud, if not beautiful. We saw goats and their kids, a new sight for city dwellers like me. The home looked to me like a country mansion built on an old country home. In the late afternoon we hung out on the large front porch. If we had been 200 miles farther south, we would have been like good ol’ boys. We had a sumptuous potluck dinner. When the sun went down, the air got cool, and someone lit a bonfire just for fun. We gathered around it and talked for a while. Then someone made a fire in the wood burning stove in a large room inside, and we all went in and jammed some more. Most of the musicians played fiddle, but there were also banjos, guitars, mandolins, and even a flute. The musicians were very good. They specialize in old time music, and some of them have been playing it for 20 or 30 years. I’m a Johnny-come-lately. I’ve been playing tunes from the Fiddlers’ Fakebook for years, but I just started hanging out with old time musicians a few months ago. There are an awful lot of tunes I don’t know, but fortunately, I love to improvise harmony. I make a real contribution that way because you can’t just have a lot of fiddlers playing melody, even though most of them play it a little differently from each other. One of the neighbors has a similar, but larger, party each year in the fall. It’s held in his barn, where some people play music, and some dance. We were all invited. Yay! More fun ahead!
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