Jamming Notes: Early Bird Bluegrass Jam Workshops July 14, 2018


What we played:


Roll in my Sweet Baby’s Arms (G)

Will the Circle Be Unbroken (G)

Don’t This Road Look Rough and Rocky (G)

New River Train (C)

Lonesome Road Blues (G)

Hold Whatcha Got (A)

All the Good Times are Past and Gone (A)

Red River Valley (Bb)

I’ll Be Alright Tomorrow (Bb)

Lamp Lighting in the Valley (G)

I Saw the Light (G)

Kentucky Waltz (C)


What we learned:

The difference between a three-quarter time waltz and a power waltz.


(We jammed on All The Good Times Are Past And Gone and Kentucky Waltz.)


A three-quarter time waltz (3/4) is characterized by a bass note on the downbeat and strums on beats two and three. Think: Bass/strum/strum or Oom/Pa/Pa. This type of groove is usually played at a slower tempo. Tennessee Waltz and Kentucky Waltz are good examples.


A power waltz is sung at a faster tempo that emphasizes the downbeat of ‘one’. It is still in three quarter time, but beats two and three receive less accent.

Ocean of Diamonds and All the Good Times are Past and Gone are generally sung as power waltzes.


Of course, any waltz can be played with either feel. It is often up to the how the singer wants to phrase.


What we learned Part Two

‘Faster Means Louder’


(We sang ‘I Saw The Light’ at a brisk tempo. The first thing that happened is everyone got loud. The second thing that happened is the song started to drag.)


It’s a hard habit to break, but for some reason when we play a fast song, there is a tendency to play louder. That is how most of us are wired. Unfortunately, as soon as the loud dynamic is set, we lose all nuance of the ensemble. We’re too loud. Everyone else is too loud. The banjo player is too loud. And now we have to play louder to be heard. Next thing you know your chord hand is mashing down the strings to match the energy level of the picking hand. It is a weird phenomenon.


Good news, though. This habit can be broken once we have more awareness of this tendency. Try this: Cue up a fast song that you like and play along with the track while keeping the volume really low. This will make you listen harder while keeping your picking/strumming in time. Your right hand will have to back off the dynamic while keeping up with the speed. By playing fast and quiet, you can develop better listening skills and increase your dynamic range.


Why should we break this habit? ‘Faster Means Louder’ is ruining our dynamic palate. By starting loud, we can get stuck at that dynamic and lose access to our quiet sounds. We lose the ability to duck under vocals and solos and our ears get fatigued quicker. Our fingers get tired from mashing down onto the fingerboard and we find it difficult to keep up. 


Another great technique for rewiring the picking hand and fretting hand is playing louder with your pick hand while focusing on keeping the left hand relaxed. In general, the fretting hand will try to match the intensity of the picking hand. The fretting hand only needs to place the fingers behind the frets to produce the sounds we are looking for. Reprogramming this connection can save you tired fingertips, string changes, and costly fret replacements.


Winter/Spring Workshops
Let's Sing: Bluegrass Harmonies
Mondays 7-8pm at Guitar Associates
Jan 29
Feb 12, 26
Mar 12

Let's Pick: Intermediate Solos Got the Blues
Mondays 7-8pm
Feb 5, 19
Mar 5, 19

Let's Jam: Intermediate Bluegrass Jam 
Tuesdays 7-8pm at Guitar Associates
Jan 30
Feb 13, 27
Mar 13
We will close our workshop series with a round up jam night at Apple Mountain Music.
 $135 (plus tax) per workshop
Special Discounts and Deals
-Want to take two classes? Take the second class for $110 plus tax.
-Current students are eligible for the $110 discount on all classes.

Here is the official book of the Bluegrass Early Bird Slow Jam.

If it's in the book, you can call it.

No Beatles, AC/DC, Tom Petty or Neil Young.

And please, no Wagon Wheel.


The fall Jam and Band Scramble is in full swing. Watch out!!

See you at the show on December 10.

Outpost Performance Space. 3:30pm Free


This is the best advice for surviving a jam session.

Take a deep breath. Go back to the One chord and wait.

Listen to the rhythm players. Most importantly, Don't Panic!



Inspired by Douglas Adams

Howdy, Pickers!


Here is the playlist from our jam in October

I Saw The Light

Red Wing

Billy Boy

The Girl I Left Behind

Whiskey Before Breakfast

Long Journey Home

White Freightliner Blues

I'll Fly Away

Blue Ridge Cabin Home


Keep learning those fiddle tune chord progressions.

Red Wing and Whiskey Before Breakfast for starters.

We had a great jam at Apple Mountain Music Saturday.

Songs and Tunes:

Dark Hollow

Red Wing

Banks of the Ohio

Whiskey Before Breakfast

Bury Me Beneath The Willow

This Land Is Your Land

I’ll Fly Away

White Freightliner

It was great seeing some new faces. Jamming is a fun way to get a lot of chord practice and learn a lot of new songs.

Red Wing has been called many times now, so if you haven’t learned it, get going! Whiskey Before Breakfast is another tune that gives jammers that deer in the headlights look. Get those chord progressions down for next time.

I was really impressed with how much progress people are making. There were some really nice breaks, some fine singing, and solid bass playing. Thank you all for continuing to support this jam at Apple Mountain. See you next month.

Early Bird Bluegrass Slow Jam at Apple Mountain Music


As always, thanks to everyone that showed up to play. We always seem to get the right number for that room. Some really good jam tunes got called today. We jammed on Mountain Dew

My Home’s Across The Blue Ridge Mountains

I’ll Fly Away

Cherokee Shuffle

Whiskey Before Breakfast

White Freight Liner

Faded Love

I Am A Pilgrim.

It was a good combination of songs and fiddle tunes. If you want to jam with groups, you gotta make sure you know your chords for fiddle tunes. Cherokee Shuffle and Whiskey Before Breakfast are complex in their chord progressions, so they are good ones to practice. I would consider Blackberry Blossom and Arkansas Traveler to be in the same category.

Next Early Bird Bluegrass Slow Jam will be meeting Second Saturday in August.

The room is booked for the jam 9-10am. I’ll sometimes go a little over if we can get a few more tunes in. We start up pretty much on time.

If you want to join us, you are welcome to.

please contact me with any questions. 

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