Opening jam sessions
There haven’t ever been a lot of places in our state where unknown artists are able to share their talents. But bars and nightclubs have always been the musician’s friend, the kickstarter of careers that could lead to fame, another bar or back to the garage.
Bars are finding it harder these days to pay musicians to play. Amateur musicians are feeling the pinch from the rise in popularity of karaoke and reliable one man DJs.
However, there are still a few stragglers out there keeping that dream alive for starving musicians by offering a venue where their talents can be showcased.
Last week, I visited six places in the area that host jam sessions.
Jam sessions are, just that… where musicians get together to jam.
Some don’t play together as well as others, of course. There will always be those that just can’t share and they do more to detract from the experience than it’s worth.
At one stop the guitar player was a no-show, must’ve broken up with his girlfriend and not had a ride. (What do you call a musician who breaks up with his girlfriend? Answer – homeless.)
Musicians stick together. His fellow jammers stuck around and covered him, because the old saying stands true ‘The show must go on.’
Some jam sessions can be intimidating, especially if you don’t know anyone. But once you find a place you’re comfortable, there’s no telling what you can do or who you could meet in our state.
Many of the locals are known for playing with famous artists. They usually enjoy playing so much they sit in with friends when they are on the road or supplement their income at home.
You can occasionally spot Johnny Lee’s band members out partaking, (Looking for Love in all the Wrong Places.) Toby Keith’s past and present band members, Reba’s, Garth’s and if you’re really lucky even George Strait’s guitar player can be found picking in a local venue. Even Vince Gill himself has been seen at jams here.
My favorite reoccurring jams going on right now are on Sundays if you’re down south at Little Dicks Halfway Inn. Those guys can and will play anything. I’ve read about this place as being one of the scariest bars in our area. I’ve been to a lot of bars and the bartenders are not always sober. This bartender is aware and watchful of his patrons. I always feel safe there.
If you’re up north Friends Bar and Grill at Portland and Memorial Road is the place to be. The players there are experts and good teachers too. They will make you feel right at home. They serve good food but unfortunately you must be 21 to enter either establishment. They both start at 9 p.m. and play till they decide to quit which is usually around closing time.