To Jam or Perform

by | 8 Mar, 2020

Hey Ozzie, Last year I went to a bluegrass festival and met a singer who asked me to join her band for the weekend. We ended up practising her repertoire so much that I never got to jam. Was I stupid?


Probably. It’s tempting when someone musically interesting asks that question just after you’ve just arrived. But it can trap you. Best approach is to agree to have a jam and think about it for a while. Most festivals offer a range of activities like concerts and instrumental workshops, and if you miss out on those you can miss a lot of useful tips and experiences.

Jamming, of course, is the top priority for most bluegrass attendees, because you often don’t otherwise have the chance to meet other states’ pickers and discover what’s in their repertoires.

Serious performers – those who might call themselves ‘professionals’ – arrange who might temporarily join their bands well ahead of festival time. That way, if the ‘visiting musician’ agrees to spend the weekend with the band, he or she can be given repertoire material to master it well ahead of time. Invitations without warning can be tempting, but they can also compromise your ability to get around at a festival. Most festivals rarely last more than about four days. When it’s over, it’s over. Usually, for another year…