I’m In a Jam
I am constantly surprised by people who approach me and say they know how to play an instrument, but never play outside of their homes. My first thought is usually, why hide your talent? Then, I considered maybe they just haven’t ever thought about playing anywhere, but home. With jams and open mics being the best things going in Sarasota and Bradenton, I want to encourage all of you closet musicians to get out of your houses and play.
I first discovered jams when I was about eight years old at North Port Music. The first time I went I didn’t even take an instrument. I just listened and watched people playing guitars, banjos, and even a harmonica. I was the only kid there so of course everyone noticed me and asked if I played an instrument. After telling them I played the violin, they insisted I come again and play with them. The next week, I went back with my violin and I’ll never forget the excitement I felt as the other musicians joined me in playing Turkey in the Straw. Looking back, I can’t help but giggle when I think about how they all had trouble keeping up because at that time I only had one speed: fast! Ever since that day, I have been hooked on jams.
Obviously, my first jam was scary because I didn’t know anyone and didn’t even understand keys at that point. It didn’t matter though because I soon realized everyone was there to have a good time. They were all friendly and willing to offer advice so it didn’t take me long to feel comfortable.
Although I’ve been playing for a while, I still get nervous going to a new jam even though I know I shouldn’t. After all, jams have always been a positive experience with the professionals being very patient with me because they have all been in my shoes before. You see, one thing I’ve learned is that true musicians support anyone who has a passion for music. Since I still have a lot to learn about music, I am grateful to have such great musician friends to help me.
Speaking from my own personal experience jams have helped me improve as a musician. There are usually various instruments, skill levels, and genres of music at a jam. There is no doubt, jams are the reason I play more than one instrument and appreciate different kinds of music. In other words, I am always inspired to practice more after hearing someone play better than me. I also will attempt to play new songs when I hear one I really like at a jam. Naturally, more practice results in better playing.
I can’t possibly leave you without suggesting some great jams and open mics for you to try. You have a choice between two engaging jams every Thursday night or you may want to go to both. At 5:00 pm Karen Klarich and The Big Bad Wolves (Mark Skey, David Maxwell, and Mack Black) host a jam at The Anna Maria Island Beach Cafe. Then, at 8:00 pm Kara Nally hosts an open mic at The British Open Pub at Palmer Ranch. If you can’t make it during the week, don’t worry. I have just discovered an open mic on Sunday afternoons hosted by Greg Gerdes AKA Stretch. This one is held at Mama Onesti’s in Bradenton. Then, to finish off your weekend you have to go to Clásico and join the jam there hosted by the guitar genius Jimi Gee and Kara Nally. Of course, there are more jams and open mics than the ones I’ve mentioned. These are just the ones I’ve attended and would definitely recommend.
To sum it all up, grab your instruments and join a jam. Regardless of your playing level, you will improve, make new friends and have a lot of fun. Meanwhile, I’ll be looking for new jams and anxiously waiting to jam with all of you. This includes my accordion playing friend. You know who you are.