Musicians find a place for bluegrass (video)
Jennifer Lee Preyss
Dec. 30, 2012 at 6:30 a.m.
A few months ago, Stan Kendrick sat at the end of his bed and picked his acoustic guitar with sad fingers.
The instrument echoed the quick-paced melodies of bluegrass, Kendrick's preferred musical genre.
But as he strummed the instrument solo, he considered that maybe he didn't have to continue playing alone.
As a member of the American Legion Post No. 166 in Victoria, Kendrick decided to launch a monthly jam session at the Legion's post home and invite fellow bluegrass enthusiasts to join him in the circle.
"I wanted to create a bluegrass family, and, really, I just wanted a place to play," said Kendrick, a 57-year-old Victoria resident and Alcoa employee.
On Sunday, Kendrick hosted a pre-jam at the hall with more than a half-dozen guitarists, mandolin and harmonica players and banjoists, who, together, plan to kick off a monthly bluegrass jam at the American Legion.
"It's open to anyone who wants to play bluegrass or for anyone who likes to listen to bluegrass," Kendrick said.
Beginning at 5 p.m. Jan. 18, the bluegrass jam will officially be open to the public. A slow jam will commence at 5 p.m., which is open to beginner musicians who want to enter the circle.
"We want to invite people who are still learning their instrument to come," he said. "It's good for them because normally bluegrass goes 100 miles an hour."
The advanced jam session begins at 7 p.m. and is open to all seasoned bluegrass musicians and vocalists.
Kendrick said the event is free to the public and will include a monthly raffle of special items donated for the jam.
Banjoist Pat Fagan said he hopes the group catches on because it will provide a place for bluegrass lovers to attend each month without having to drive long distances.
"It's a good place for people to come listen, and it's fun for a crowd," Fagan said. "But bluegrass music is music you can play with your neighbors. So, the crowd is not the goal. The goal is to play music people like and to provide a place people can hear it."
Victoria resident Leonor Priestle said she was invited to attend the pre-jam at the American Legion, but she was not expecting to enjoy it as much as she did.
"I really liked it," she said. "I'd never heard a banjo up close like that," Priestle said. "People need to at least expose themselves to this to see what it's like. ... I'm definitely coming back."
Kendrick said he hopes the bluegrass jam will continue to grow a family of musicians who return each month to join the circle.
"I just want to get people here that like to play and like listening to the music," he said. "This will be our place for bluegrass."