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Updates

April 2017

Starting later this month I will be offering four new classes, including something I've never been able to offer before: weekday afternoon classes in Lexington. These four classes are being offered through Lexington Community Education and I have included descriptions and details below:

 

(1) Beginning Bluegrass Jamming Class (For All Bluegrass Instruments)
  -  Tuesdays from noon until 1:30 pm at 146 Maple St., Lexington
  -  visit http://lexingtoncommunityed.org/detail.php?q=MBLU for more info
(2) Beginning Harmony Singing for Acoustic Musicians 
  -  Tuesdays from 1:30 until 3 pm at 146 Maple St., Lexington
  -  visit http://lexingtoncommunityed.org/detail.php?q=MRHY for more info
(3) Beginning Bluegrass Banjo 
  -  Thursdays from 6:30 until 8 pm at Lexington High School
  -  visit http://lexingtoncommunityed.org/detail.php?q=MBAN for more info
(4) Beginning Bluegrass Guitar & Mandolin 
  -  Thursdays from 8 until 9:30 pm at Lexington High School
  -  visit http://lexingtoncommunityed.org/detail.php?q=MGUI for more info
 
UPCOMING JAMS

MONDAYS from 7 - 9 pm in N. Cambridge: 2-Hour Intermediate Jam (CJS 5 of 6)
  -  please note: CJS subscribers do not need to rsvp (unless they cannot attend)
  -  most Mondays from 7 until 9 pm (for all bluegrass instruments)
  -  repertoire: Old Joe Clark, Red Haired Boy, Nine Pound Hammer, I am a Pilgrim,
     Whiskey Before Breakfast, Wayfaring Stranger, Cherokee Shuffle,
     Little Maggie, and Clinch Mountain Backstep
  -  average tempos: starting at 90 cpm (slow)
  -  upcoming Confirmed Jams on Apr. 3 & 10
  -  CJS subscriber cost is $120 for 6 jams ($20 per 2-hour jam)
  -  per-jam "drop-in" cost for non-subscribers is $25 per 2-hour jam

TUESDAYS from 6 - 7:30 pm at the Cantab: Weekly Vocal Tune Jam
  -  please note: no rsvp needed if you plan to join us for this jam
  -  every Tuesday at the Cantab Lounge in Central Sq. in Cambridge
  -  see elsewhere in this e-mail for "Song of the Week" details
  -  otherwise no instrumentals, very fast vocal tunes, or difficult songs
  -  the Cantab is located at 738 Mass. Ave. in Cambridge, MA 02139
  -  held upstairs at the Cantab immediately before bluegrass night
  -  open to the public and there is a $10 requested pass-the-hat donation
  -  more details at http://cantab-lounge.com/public_html/cantab_calendar.html

WEDNESDAYS from 7 - 9 pm in N. Cambridge: 2-Hour Fast Jam (CJS 1 of 6)
  -  please note: CJS subscribers do not need to rsvp (unless they cannot attend)
  -  every Wednesday from 7 until 9 pm (for all bluegrass instruments)
  -  repertoire: Whiskey Before Breakfast, Wayfaring Stranger, I am a Pilgrim,
     Nine Pound Hammer, Cherokee Shuffle, Clinch Mountain Backstep,
     Little Maggie, and possibly Red Haired Boy (time permitting)
  -  average tempos starting at roughly 100 cpm (slow)
  -  upcoming Confirmed Jams on Apr. 5, 12, 19 & 26 and May 3 & 17
  -  CJS subscriber cost is $120 for 6 jams ($20 per 2-hour jam)
  -  per-jam "drop-in" cost for non-subscribers is $25 per 2-hour jam

WEDNESDAYS from 9 - 10 pm in N. Cambridge: Songs Beyond Jam (CJS 1 of 6)
  -  please note: CJS subscribers do not need to rsvp (unless they cannot attend)
  -  every Wednesday from 9 until 10 pm (for all bluegrass instruments)
  -  next week's repertoire as chosen by Dave B. will include:
     Bill Cheatham (in A), Fireball Mail (in G), Big Sciota (in G),
     and possibly Billy in the Lowground in C (time permitting)
  -  average tempos starting at roughly 95 cpm (slow)
   -  upcoming Confirmed Jams on Apr. 5, 12, 19 & 26 and May 3 & 17
  -  CJS subscriber cost is $60 for 6 jams ($10 per hour-long jam)
  -  per-jam "drop-in" cost for non-subscribers is $15 per hour-long jam
  -  unless you are also attending the 2-Hour Fast Jam, in which case it's $10

Please note: we will not be having a jam in Carlisle on Sunday, April 2nd

 

NEXT SUNDAY (Apr. 9) 6-8 pm in Carlisle: 2-Hour Family Jam (CJS 1 of 4)
  -  please note: CJS subscribers do not need to rsvp (unless they cannot attend)
  -  please note: jamming class 1 of 4 will be meeting immediately beforehand
  -  for all bluegrass instruments (please note the longer duration)
  -  repertoire: Old Joe Clark, I am a Pilgrim, Red Haired Boy,
     Nine Pound Hammer, and Whiskey Before Breakfast
  -  average tempos starting at roughly 70 cpm (slow)
  -  next CJS dates: April 9 & 23 and May 14 & 21
  -  CJS subscriber cost is $100 for 4 jams ($25 per 2-hour jam)
  -  please note: the "drop-in" price for these jams is $30 per jam
  -  jams held at a private home in Carlisle, MA

 
SONG OF THE WEEK

Once again next Tuesday we will be having the Weekly Vocal Tune Jam at the Cantab Lounge in Cambridge, MA. We won't be learning a new Song of the Week this time, but we might play the Song of the Week from recent jams (see list below). Please note that we will likely only play one or two songs from this list each week. But we never know what other songs we're going to play at the Weekly Vocal Tune Jam, so you'll have to come out to the Cantab Lounge to find out!

Recent Song of the Week List:
(please note: we will likely only play one or two songs from this list each week)

No Hiding Place Down Here (in C) - https://youtu.be/mkvoAZtsWEY 
Say Darlin' Say (in G) - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=msPVpfsye2k
Moonshiner (in D) - www.youtube.com/watch?v=e1ffOWyIOWQ
Cold Rain and Snow (in G) - https://youtu.be/s1UZsH7rubI?t=50s
If Wishes Were Horses (in A) - www.youtube.com/watch?v=4JUR_Lw-n-M
Things in Life (in E) - www.youtube.com/watch?v=Mxbiu2AuX0Y
White House Blues (in B) - www.youtube.com/watch?v=r8rk5rTxOBk
My Saro Jane (in G) - www.youtube.com/watch?v=eWl9iVnxxSY
Ain't No Ash Will Burn (in D) - www.youtube.com/watch?v=bmdm8E5uWlk
Come On Up To The House (in A) - www.youtube.com/watch?v=DzapgZI5SEc

UPCOMING CLASSES

(1) Beginning Bluegrass Jamming Class (For All Bluegrass Instruments)
  -  Tuesdays from noon until 1:30 pm at 146 Maple St., Lexington

The Beginning Bluegrass Jamming Class is open to all bluegrass instruments: banjo, fiddle, guitar, mandolin, bass and Dobro a.k.a. resophonic guitar, and is geared towards beginner and intermediate musicians who are interested in learning how to play with other musicians. We will focus on the basics of bluegrass jamming such as keeping time, non-verbal communication and jam etiquette. The primary goal is to provide the students with the skills and experience needed to participate in bluegrass jams. There are no prerequisite songs, and you don’t need to be able to play leads on your instrument, sing, or read music. Students should be able to play melodies and/or backup parts (i.e. guitarists should be able to switch between chords comfortably). Students are welcome to bring a recording device, however, it’s not necessary as I will be recording each class and sharing the recordings between classes.

(1) Beginning Bluegrass Jamming Class (For All Bluegrass Instruments)
  -  five consecutive Tuesdays in Lexington from noon until 1:30 pm
  -  learn to jam on vocal songs you may have never heard before
  -  classes held at LCE Conference Room, 146 Maple St., Lexington
  -  access by 328 Lowell St. through blue side door of Old Harrington school
  -  five (5) 90-minute classes held Tuesdays from noon until 1:30 pm
  -  class meets on Apr. 25 and May 2, 9, 16 & 23, make up on May 30th
  -  $100 tuition ($75 for seniors) includes handouts and companion MP3s
  -  visit http://lexingtoncommunityed.org/detail.php?q=MBLU for more info

(2) Beginning Harmony Singing for Acoustic Musicians 
  -  Tuesdays from 1:30 until 3 pm at 146 Maple St., Lexington

The Beginning Harmony Singing for Acoustic Musicians class is focused on two core skills: learning how to determine harmonies and learning to teach yourself to sing harmonies using your instrument as a guide. We will focus on a handful of common folk/country/bluegrass vocal tunes, and there will be homework each class including both singing and determining harmonies. There are no prerequisite songs, and you don't need to be able to read music or play lead. The Harmony Singing class is open to all instruments, all levels - both rhythm and lead players - but it is geared towards those who have trouble finding harmonies on their instrument and/or with their voice. You will need to bring an instrument with you to class each week, and although it's not required, please familiarize yourself with the G Major scale in the first position of your instrument.

(2) Beginning Harmony Singing for Acoustic Musicians
  -  five consecutive Tuesdays in Lexington from 1:30 until 3 pm
  -  for those who want to learn how to determine and sing harmonies
  -  classes held at LCE Conference Room, 146 Maple St., Lexington
  -  access by 328 Lowell St. through blue side door of Old Harrington school
  -  five (5) 90-minute classes held Tuesdays from 1:30 until 3 pm
  -  class meets on Apr. 25 and May 2, 9, 16 & 23, make up on May 30th
  -  $100 tuition ($75 for seniors) includes handouts and companion MP3s
  -  visit http://lexingtoncommunityed.org/detail.php?q=MRHY for more info

(3) Beginning Bluegrass Banjo 
  -  Thursdays from 6:30 until 8 pm at Lexington High School

The Beginning Bluegrass Banjo Class is intended for those who are new to playing bluegrass banjo or those who have been frustrated trying to learn to play before. In this course, we’ll learn how to read tablature (tab), and we will focus on the core techniques required to play bluegrass banjo including chords, rolls, pinches, slurs, etc. We will focus on a variety of classic songs in bluegrass including Man of Constant Sorrow, Will the Circle Be Unbroken, and I’ll Fly Away, as a means to introduce a variety of soloing techniques and build increasingly complicated solos. The primary goal is to provide you with the skills needed to play solid bluegrass banjo and participate in bluegrass jams. Students do not need to have previous experience playing (or even listening to) bluegrass, and you don’t need to be able to read music. Students should bring a playable banjo, a banjo strap, thumb/finger picks and ideally a clip-on tuner. Handouts and corresponding mp3’s will be provided and while students are welcome to bring a recording device, it’s not necessary as I will be recording each class and sharing the recordings between classes.

(3) Beginning Bluegrass Banjo
  -  five Thursday evenings in Lexington from 6:30 until 8 pm
  -  for those who want to learn how to play bluegrass banjo
  -  classes held at Lexington High School (251 Waltham St. in Lexington)
  -  five (5) 90-minute classes held various Thursdays from 6:30 until 8 pm
  -  class meets on Apr. 13 & 27 and May 4, 11 & 18, make up on June 15
  -  $100 tuition ($75 for seniors) includes handouts and companion MP3s
  -  visit http://lexingtoncommunityed.org/detail.php?q=MBAN for more info

(4) Beginning Bluegrass Guitar & Mandolin 
  -  Thursdays from 8 until 9:30 pm at Lexington High School

The Beginning Bluegrass Guitar and Mandolin class is intended for those who are new to playing lead bluegrass guitar and/or mandolin, or who have been frustrated trying to learn to play lead before. In this course, we’ll learn how to read tablature (tab), and we will focus on learning the classic fiddle tune Old Joe Clark as means to introduce a variety of lead soloing techniques. The primary goal is to provide you with the skills needed to play lead bluegrass guitar and mandolin and participate in bluegrass jams. Students do not need to have previous experience playing (or even listening to) bluegrass, and you don’t need to be able to read music. Students should bring a playable mandolin or acoustic guitar (ideally with steel strings) and a pick. Handouts and corresponding MP3s will be provided and students are welcome to bring a recording device, however, it’s not necessary as I will be recording each class and sharing the recordings between classes.

(4) Beginning Bluegrass Guitar & Mandolin (joint class)
  -  five Thursday evenings in Lexington from 6:30 until 8 pm
  -  for those who want to learn how to play lead bluegrass guitar or mandolin
  -  classes held at Lexington High School (251 Waltham St. in Lexington)
  -  five (5) 90-minute classes held various Thursdays from 8 until 9:30 pm
  -  class meets on Apr. 13 & 27 and May 4, 11 & 18, make up on June 15
  -  $100 tuition ($75 for seniors) includes handouts and companion MP3s
  -  visit http://lexingtoncommunityed.org/detail.php?q=MGUI for more info

UPCOMING PERFORMANCES

Laura Orshaw & The New Velvet Band at Club Passim's Down Home Up Here Bluegrass Festival on Saturday, April 15th at 8 pm  --  Laura's New Velvet Band (in which I play guitar and sing harmony) will be playing on Saturday, April 15th at Club Passim's Down Home Up Here Bluegrass Festival. This two-day event takes place from 4 until 11 pmon both Saturday, April 15th and Sunday, April 16th, with fourteen bands performing this year. Tickets are only $15 for an entire evening of music ($10 for Club Passim members and students), and you can get more details at http://passim.org/club/down-home-here-bluegrass-festival-7. Club Passim is located in Harvard Sq. in Cambridge and if you've never been to Passim before, you should be aware that parking in Harvard Sq. can be difficult, but Passim validates parking and the venue is literally one block from the Red Line.

 

True Life Bluegrass CD Release Party at Club Passim on Wednesday, May 10th at 8 pm  --  After a mere 32 years of playing together, one of the most venerable bluegrass bands in the Boston area will release our first CD in May! The band I play mandolin and guitar in with my Dad, True Life Bluegrass, went in the studio last fall to record 14 songs that best represent our band in terms of vocal and instrumental variety. We are very excited and pleased to have the chance to capture the sound of the band performing some of our favorite songs from the past three decades, and can't wait to share it with everybody! Tickets for our official CD Release Party at Club Passim are only $18 ($15 for members), and you can get more details at www.passim.org/club/true-life-bluegrass-cd-release. Club Passim is located in Harvard Sq. in Cambridge and if you've never been to Passim before, you should be aware that parking in Harvard Sq. can be difficult, but Passim validates parking and the venue is literally one block from the Red Line.

 

UPCOMING CONFIRMED JAM SERIES

Here are the basic details of the Confirmed Jam Series (and please let me know if you have any additional questions):

(1) a Confirmed Jam Series (CJS) is a set of jams that will definitely meet barring something out of my control (like snow or the Earls of Leicester)
(2) you don't have to be a CJS "subscriber" to attend any of my jams
(3) you can start attending as a "subscriber" or "non-subscriber" at any time (you don't have to wait for the current CJS to end before joining us)
(4) you're invited to sign up in advance (as soon as right now) for the next CJS
(5) once you subscribe, you're expected to attend every jam in the CJS
(6) AND you must let me know asap if you cannot attend any jam
(7) BUT you won't have to pay for missing any jams if you let me know the date(s) of the jam(s) you'll miss at the beginning of the CJS
(8) AND if you miss a confirmed jam without letting me know in advance, you can attend any other confirmed jam on a DIFFERENT night within the next two months

And here are the specific details of the upcoming Confirmed Jam Series:

WEDNESDAYS from 7 - 9 pm: 2-Hour Fast Jam (for ALL instruments)
  -  six Wednesdays in north Cambridge, near the Cambridge/Arlington border
  -  Confirmed Jam Sessions on Apr. 5, 12, 19 & 26 and May 3 & 10
  -  if you cannot attend any of these, please let me know as soon as possible
  -  repertoire: Red Haired Boy, Nine Pound Hammer, I am a Pilgrim,
     Whiskey Before Breakfast, Wayfaring Stranger, Cherokee Shuffle,
     Little Maggie, and Clinch Mountain Backstep
  -  average tempos starting at roughly 90 cpm (slow)
  -  CJS subscriber cost is $120 for 6 jams ($20 per 2-hour jam)
  -  per-jam "drop-in" cost for non-subscribers is $25 per 2-hour jam

WEDNESDAYS from 9 - 10 pm: Songs Beyond Jam (for ALL instruments)
  -  six Wednesdays in north Cambridge, near the Cambridge/Arlington border
  -  Confirmed Jam Sessions on Apr. 5, 12, 19 & 26 and May 3 & 10
  -  if you cannot attend any of these, please let me know as soon as possible
  -  repertoire will be chosen by a rotating "DJ" from the following songs:
     Big Sciota (in G), Big Spike Hammer (in A), Bill Cheatham (in A),
     Gold Rush (in A), Billy in the Lowground (in C), Fireball Mail (in G),
     Wayfaring Stranger (in Em), Blackberry Blossom (in G),
     St. Anne's Reel (in D), and possibly Old Joe Clark (in A)
  -  average tempos starting at roughly 90 cpm (slow)
  -  CJS subscriber cost is $60 for 6 jams ($10 per hour-long jam)
  -  per-jam "drop-in" cost is $15 (or $10 if you also attend the 2-Hour Fast Jam)

SUNDAYS from 6 - 8 pm in Carlisle: 2-Hour Family Jam (for ALL instruments)
  -  four (4) Sundays at a private home in Carlisle, MA
  -  Confirmed Jam Sessions on April 9 & 23 and May 14 & 21
  -  if you cannot attend any of these, please let me know as soon as possible
  -  repertoire: Old Joe Clark, Red Haired Boy, Nine Pound Hammer,
     I am a Pilgrim, and Whiskey Before Breakfast
  -  average tempos: starting at 70 cpm (slow)
  -  CJS subscriber cost is $100 for 4 jams ($25 per 2-hour jam)
  -  per-jam "drop-in" cost for non-subscribers is $30 per 2-hour jam

UPCOMING CAMPS

Guitar and Mandolin Camp North in Charlton, MA from April 7th through 9th  --  I am very excited to be returning to this camp that last year was expanded to include guitarists, and this year is also including Dobro instruction. My role has been increasing and this year I have responsibilities helping to organize the jams and beginner tracks. The camp will be held in Charlton, MA (near Sturbridge, just an hour west of Boston) over the weekend of April 7th - 9th. The camps have been reinvigorated by new leadership (they are now both non-profit) and a large and talented line-up of teachers, and feature classes, concerts and jamming throughout the weekend. The camp includes a wide variety of styles of music (with a focus on bluegrass). They offer Master Classes with individual feedback, four Beginners' Tracks, and just about everything in between. Please visit their website (http://musiccampsnorth.com/2017-guitar-mandolin-camp-north/), and let me know if you have any questions. If you sign up, please let them know that you heard about it from me!

Banjo Camp North in Charlton, MA from May 19th through 21st  --  I am also excited to be returning to teach as a faculty member at Banjo Camp North in Charlton, MA (near Sturbridge, just an hour west of Boston) over the weekend of May 19th - 21st. As with Guitar and Mandolin Camp North, this year I have responsibilities helping to organize the jams and beginner tracks. The camps have been reinvigorated by new leadership (they are now both non-profit) and a large and talented line-up of teachers, and feature classes, concerts and jamming throughout the weekend. The camp includes a wide variety of styles of music (with a focus on bluegrass and old-time music). They offer Master Classes with individual feedback, four Beginners' Tracks, and just about everything in between. Please visit their website (http://musiccampsnorth.com/2017-banjo-camp-north/), and let me know if you have any questions. The BBU Member discount expires April 21st. If you sign up, please let them know that you heard about it from me!

Ashokan Guitar Camp in Olivebridge, NY from July 10th through 14th  --  I cannot begin to describe how much of an honor it is to have been invited to teach at the guitar camp at The Ashokan Center. The many camps at Ashokan have been among the most significant within our community and beyond. These camps are led by Molly Mason and Jay Ungar, the latter of which named his most famous tune after the camps: Ashokan Farewell, which was heard as the musical centerpiece of Ken Burns’ PBS series The Civil War. The Ashokan Guitar Camp is a truly wide-ranging affair, where I will be the primary bluegrass instructor, but the other teachers (Jefferson Hamer, Sylvia Herold, Larry Baione, Del Rey, Flynn Cohen, Molly Mason, and Peter Davis) are truly top notch. Please visit the camp website (http://ashokan.org/guitar-camp/) for complete details.

Fiddle Hell Massachusetts in Westford, MA from November 3rd through 5th  --  I am also looking forward to my first year teaching at Fiddle Hell Massachusetts. Despite the name, Fiddle Hell is much closer to heaven for nearly 450 fiddlers, mandolinists, and the odd guitarist, banjo player, etc. Fiddle Hell features over 250 instructor-led workshops and jam sessions that cover a wide range of styles of music all appropriate for fiddlers. I couldn't begin to list all the instructors (it's over 50), or all the styles of music covered (over 30), so you'll have to check out their website (http://reinerfamilyband.com/introduction) and visit last year's pages for an idea of what to expect. It's difficult to imagine how massive such an event must be, but everybody loves the new location in Westford, and the event has only grown since moving there a few years ago.

 
Cantab Jam Details

Weekly Vocal Tune Jam - Tuesdays from 6 until 7:30 pm at the Cantab Lounge
(1) the jam meets every Tuesday from 6 until 7:30, no rsvp required
(2) unlike my other jams, we don't know what songs we'll be playing each week
(3) we don't play instrumentals, very fast vocal tunes, or obscure/difficult songs
(4) you don't need to be able to sing, but it's more fun if you can
(5) improvising solos is also not required, but it's more fun if you can
(6) the best preparation is to learn a common bluegrass song to sing with us
(7) the Cantab Lounge is one block from the Red Line, or try these "secret" parking spots:

There are six parking spaces very near the Cantab that are almost always free if you can get there at exactly 5:55 pm. These six parking spaces are all loading zones (that means tow zones) up until 6 pm, but if you arrive at 5:55 they are almost always empty. You can then sit in your car for a couple minutes, after which the parking spaces become non-tow zones and are free. There are two of these spots directly in front of the Cantab and the 7-11 on the corner, but don't park in the handicapped spot unless you have the placard! And there are four more of these loading-zone-until-6-pm spots directly across Mass. Ave. from the Cantab in front Pill Hardware down to the 1369 Coffee House.

The Weekly Vocal Tune Jam at the Cantab had been limited to easier songs (that is, no very fast vocal tunes, or songs with very complicated chord changes), but with the new "Song of the Week" system gives everybody attending the jam almost a week to work on a more difficult song for next week's jam. These songs will be chosen on a weekly basis by people at the jam, or by e-mailing me directly if you know you can attend next week's jam.

 
North Cambridge Location

Lessons, jams, classes, etc. are usually held a half mile from where Rt. 2 hits Cambridge at the Alewife T station. This location is one block from the intersection of Rt. 16 and Mass. Ave., near the Cambridge/Arlington border. There is plenty of meter-free, permit-free parking on Mass. Ave., but please be advised that traffic can be very heavy around the intersection of Mass. Ave. and Rt. 16, so please allow for extra time to get here. The location is also only a 10-minute walk from Alewife and 15 minutes from Davis Sq., but if you are going to take public transportation, please let me know so I can recommend how best to get here.

 

Jam Details
 
My "teacher-directed" jams are open to all instruments, both rhythm and lead players. You can attend even if you don't know all of the tunes, as I will have mp3s and copies of tab, chords, and lyrics for most of these tunes; however, I only have tabs for mandolin, guitar, and bass at this time. Space is limited in the jam sessions, and top priority will be given to those folks who have signed up for the Confirmed Jam Series. Students are encouraged to enroll in courses that correspond to jams, and the next highest priority will be given to those who are attending the corresponding classes immediately before or after the jams. Otherwise, students are invited to RSVP to jams on a first come, first served basis at the regular cost (which depends on jam length and location). Please e-mail me at tonywatt@gmail.com if you're interested or have any questions.

MAILING LIST SIGN-UP

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Please just send me an e-mail at tonywatt@gmail.com and let me know where you live and what you're interested in hearing about (such as performances, classes, jams, etc.)

Thanks so much!