Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Merlefest Prelude - Jam Camp and Folk Society

The week preceding Merlefest is filled with festival related activities. Pete Wernick's Jam Camp takes place out at Camp Harrison, the YMCA camp located about ten miles west of the Wilkes Community College Campus. Each year about forty novice and moderately experienced bluegrass pickers come together to learn bluegrass jamming from dr. banjo himself. Pete has been teaching jamming as an approach to learning bluegrass rather than staying at home and learning from tab or picking in the closet. His idea is that learning to play together, absorbing the history and conventions of bluegrass music, and making music together yields people prepared to play more and better together. His four day camp begins on Monday morning with a bunch of nervous newbies and a group of returning campers who have discovered that his methods help them learn to jam. I'll be writing a more in depth report in a week or so. Meanwhile, here's some pictures from the first couple of days:

Pete Wernick - dr. banjo

Joan Wernick

Scott Freeman

Steve Lewis

Meanwhile, down at the Wilkes Community College campus, home of Merlefest, the Wilkes Accoustic/Folk Society hosts open jams on Monday through Wednesday as a preparation for Merlefest and to provide local folks a chance to jam while people coming into town early for the festival can hear some music. Local pickers young and old as well as nationally known musicians congregate at the pickin' tents to socialize and make music together. The quality is high, but not surprisingly so as this is the country where Doc Watson comes from and the Kruger Brothers have chosen to live. Bluegrass, country, and roots music seems to be in the water. The richness of musical experiences available here is probably not surpassed anywhere. Here are some pictures from Monday's jam at the Wilkes Accoustic/Folk Society. I'll post some more on Wednesday or Thursday.

Tut Taylor and Mike Palmer

Uwe Kruger

Billy Ray Summerlin and David Culler
Back Porch Bluegrass

Joel Landsburg and Steve Kilby

Tut Taylor picks The Tutbro