Wednesday, December 15, 2010

The Morgantown WV Brew Pub Wednesday Night Jam

   The most fun I know how to have (besides being married to my beautiful wife Daphne) is to participate in a folk jam at the Morgantown Brewing Company (know locally as the Brew Pub), each and every Wednesday night, starting at about 930 PM.  The music there is referred to as "Old Timey,"  which refers to Appalachian style music as it was played 70 years ago or more. The big difference between Bluegrass and Old Timey, is that Old Timey does not use the Scruggs style banjo, because that really works best as a solo instrument due to its rapid fire picking and loud resonator. On a given night at the Brew Pub,  there might be three or four banjos playing together, and a like number of guitars, Dobro, mandolin and fiddles.   

I don't know the names of all the people who attend, but I'll just say that if you come on Wednesday you might meet people like Keith McManus, Bob Shank and others from the Stewed Mulligan band.  Fiddler Keith and banjo player Vince Farsetta are the main organizers, while Bob also plays clawhammer banjo as well as the meanest hammer dulcimer in these parts.

and you might see Libby Eddy and the Weathered Road, back from New York, no less.

As you might expect we also have some young people from West Virginia University who are interested in learning the folk style.  I got a kick out of a fellow named Carlos, from Brazil, who has become interested in Appalachian folk music.  He's learned all the songs, so sometimes if I am not sure what we are supposed to play I look over to see what he's doing, and he's always right on. 
Yesterday we had a fellow named Isaac who is interested in percussion, and he brought an African talking drum, plus an unusual instrument he made from PVC pipe which made a variety of sounds ranging from a bass, to a sound kind of like the Touvan throat singers from central Asia. It was great, and believe it or not it meshed very well with the Old Timey style of music we play. 

Sometimes a woman named Sue (sorry I don't know her last name) brings a cello to the mix, and a guy named Richard brings a National resonator guitar, which is usually thought of as a blues instrument, though it appears in folk and bluegrass as well.

As for me, I'm not nearly as talented as most of the others, but I've been bringing my mandolin, tuned to a mountain tuning GDGD which gives it kind of a Scotch-Irish resonance.  I'm learning some of the songs and can add a little, and when I'm not completely sure what I'm doing I just muffle the strings with my right hand and keep on playing.

So you are going to get an amazing blend of sounds.  It is really incredible when  you get 20 or so musicians going at the same time.  It wouldn't be possible to have a single band with so many  musicians, so having a jam is the only way to get this sound.

 Here's kind of what it sounds like, though this particular jam was actually carried out at the nearby Blue Moose Cafe.


  1. Howdy Elliot, didn't know you played. That is a key piece of information you left out.
    Loves me some Old Timey and/or bluegrass and the new hillbilly punk. good stuff.

  2. Hi there, Anonymous one...

    I think I can tell who you are by that Kentucky accent. :-) I don't play well, but I love music. Old Timey and Bluegrass are really great because the people who like it seem to be really friendly.

  3. These musicians are truly awesome. You're very lucky to have found such a group to play with.

  4. Yes you got that right! It's definitely paradise if you are into folk music.