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Updates

Winter 2017

Thanks so much to everybody who made it out to the Cantab Lounge this past Tuesday to see my band, Southeast Expressway, play the feature set. We had one of our best shows in a long time, and it was very gratifying to see so many friendly faces in the audience.

Speaking of the Cantab, the Weekly Vocal Tune Jam is still going strong every Tuesday from 6 until 7:30 pm, but we'd love to have some more folks join us! See below for details of the jam itself, and the Song of the Week system within the jam.

And speaking of the Weekly Vocal Tune Jam at the Cantab, if you've been thinking about attending but you're not sure if you have the skills and experience necessary, then I highly recommend that you join us for the Bluegrass Jamming Fast Track Class on Friday, February 17th at Joe Val (complete details below). This Fast Track Class will give you everything you need to join us on Tuesdays at the Cantab and just about any other bluegrass jam!

And speaking of other bluegrass jams, next week we will almost certainly have five jams in Cambridge and Carlisle (next Sunday, not this Sunday for obvious reasons... go Pats!) All five jams are going strong, with new Confirmed Jam Series starting soon, and now would be a great time to join us at any of them. Please see below for details, and let me know if you have any questions whatsoever.

And speaking of Confirmed Jam Series, below I have included details for the next round of CJS on various nights. As a reminder, you don't have to be a CJS "subscriber" to attend any jam, but it is a scientific fact that subscribers have more fun ;-)

And speaking of fun, I would love to be able to offer one or more classes this winter. Please check out the Class Voting section below and let me know if you'd be interested in attending any classes. And of course, if you don't see a class you're interested in, or have any questions whatsoever, please don't hesitate to get in touch!

UPCOMING JAMS

Please note: there will be no jam in Carlisle this Sunday... GO PATS!!!

MONDAYS from 7 - 9 pm in N. Cambridge: 2-hour Intermediate Jam (CJS 4 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 Feb. 6, 13 & 27
  -  with a potential non-confirmed jam on February 20th
  -  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 below for details of the "Song of the Week" system
  -  otherwise no instrumentals, very fast vocal tunes, or difficult songs
  -  The Cantab is located at 738 Mass. Ave. in Central Square in Cambridge, MA 02139
  -  held upstairs at The Cantab immediately before bluegrass night
  -  this jam is 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 5 of 6)
  -  please note: CJS subscribers do not need to rsvp (unless they cannot attend)
  -  every Wednesday from 7 until 9 pm (please note longer duration)
  -  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 100 cpm (slow)
  -  upcoming Confirmed Jams on Feb. 8 & 15
  -  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 5 of 6)
  -  please note: CJS subscribers do not need to rsvp (unless they cannot attend)
  -  every Wednesday from 9 until 10 pm (please note shorter duration)
  -  next week's repertoire as chosen by Mark Th. will include:
     Gold Rush (in A), Billy in the Lowground (in C), Blackberry Blossom (in G)
     and possibly Fireball Mail (in G) (time permitting)
  -  average tempos starting at roughly 95 cpm (slow)
  -  upcoming Confirmed Jams on Feb. 8 & 15
  -  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

NEXT SUNDAY (Feb. 12) from 6 - 8 pm in Carlisle: 2-Hour Family Jam (non-CJS)
  -  please note: you must rsvp if you'd like to join us for this jam
  -  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 70 cpm (slow)
  -  please note: the "drop-in" price for these jams is $30 per jam
  -  or you can purchase 4 jam credits for $100 ($25 per jam)
  -  these jam credits never expire and can be used for any jam

SONG OF THE WEEK

As usual, we will once again be having the Weekly Vocal Tune Jam at the Cantab Lounge in Cambridge next Tuesday. We are taking another week off from adding a new song via the Song of the Week system, but this should give us a great chance to practice some of the earlier ones (listed below). And you never know what songs we 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:

Moonshiner (in D) - www.youtube.com/watch?v=e1ffOWyIOWQ
Cold Rain and Snow (in G) - https://youtu.be/s1UZsH7rubI?t=50s
Christmas Time's A-Comin' (in E) - www.youtube.com/watch?v=EXfBYXElPII
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 WORKSHOPS

Bluegrass Jamming: Basics and Beyond Fast Track Class at Joe Val  --  On Friday, February 17th I will be offering an all-day workshop focused on bluegrass jamming as part of the BBU's Joe Val Bluegrass Festival (detailed description below). The festival is held each year over Presidents' Day weekend in Framingham, and you can find out more about it at www.bbu.org/events/joe-val-festival/. The class runs from 11 am until 1 pm, and 2 until 4 pm, and while it's geared towards beginners, I'll also be answering some of the most mystifying questions of bluegrass jammers. If you've been curious about the Vocal Tune Jams at the Cantab, the Wernick Method class, or jamming in general, this workshop will cover a wide variety of strategies to improve your jamming. Tuition is $70 for BBU members ($75 for non-members), and further details are listed below and on-line at www.bbu.org/events/joe-val-festival/fast-track-classes/. The class size is limited, so please e-mail me at tonywatt@gmail.com if you are interested or have any questions.

Fast Track classes are geared towards novices, beginners, and advancing beginners, or those looking for a review of the fundamentals. Fast Track Classes will take place on Friday, February 17, 2017, from 11 am until 4 pm with an hour-long lunch break at 1 pm. Class size is limited to 15 participants and preregistration is encouraged. Tuition is $70 for BBU members ($75 for non-members). To sign up, all you need to do is e-mail me and let me know you'd like to join us!


Bluegrass Jamming: Basics and Beyond Fast Track Class at Joe Val

Have you ever wanted to join one of the many jams at Joe Val but feel you don’t have the skills or experience necessary? Get on the Fast Track to Bluegrass Jamming with instructor Tony Watt, who will teach you everything you need to know to get started, and answer some of the most mystifying questions of bluegrass jammers. Perhaps most importantly, you’ll get the experience and confidence needed to jam with others by joining a group of people all focused on the same goal.

The Bluegrass Jamming: Basics and Beyond Fast Track Class is open to all bluegrass instruments, both rhythm players (backup) and lead players (soloing). The workshop is open to all levels but is geared towards beginner and intermediate musicians who are new to playing with others, or who have been frustrated trying to jam before. There are no prerequisite songs, and you don’t need to be able to play leads on your instrument, read music, or sing. Students should be able to either play melodies and/or backup parts (for example mandolin, guitar and banjo players should be able to switch between G, C, D and A smoothly).

We will focus on the basics of bluegrass jamming and then explore the intricacies 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 at all levels. Students should bring a playable instrument as well as picks, capo (where applicable), strap and electronic tuner. Advanced beginner and intermediate students should try to prepare a song to play and/or sing with the group, although this is not a requirement.


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):

(0) you don't have to be a Confirmed Jam Series (CJS) "subscriber" to attend the jams
(1) you'll be invited to sign up in advance (as soon as right now) for a set of jams that will definitely meet (barring something out of our control)
(2) you won't have to wait to hear each week if the jam is on because you'll know it's taking place no matter what
(3) BUT you'll be expected to attend every jam in the CJS
(4) AND you'll be expected to let me know if you cannot attend any given week
(5) AND you'll be paying for any jams that you miss (because you will have paid in advance for the entire CJS)
(5.1) 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
(5.2) AND if you miss a confirmed jam, 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:

MONDAYS from 7 - 9 pm: 2-Hour Intermediate Jam (for ALL instruments)
  -  six (6) consecutive Mondays in north Cambridge
  -  Confirmed Jam Sessions on Mar. 6, 13, 20 & 27 and Apr. 3 & 10
  -  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, Whiskey Before Breakfast, Wayfaring Stranger,
     Cherokee Shuffle, Little Maggie, and Clinch Mountain Backstep
  -  average tempos starting at roughly 80 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 7 - 9 pm: 2-Hour Fast Jam (for ALL instruments)
  -  six (6) consecutive Wednesdays in north Cambridge
  -  Confirmed Jam Sessions on Feb. 22, and Mar. 1, 8, 15, 22 & 29
  -  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 (6) consecutive Wednesdays in north Cambridge
  -  Confirmed Jam Sessions on Feb. 22, and Mar. 1, 8, 15, 22 & 29
  -  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 in Carlisle, MA 01741
  -  Confirmed Jam Sessions on Feb. 26 and Mar. 5, 19 & 26
  -  please note: there will be no Confirmed Jam on March 12th
  -  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

CLASS VOTING

I'm hoping to be able to start another round of classes this winter, but I'd love to get your input first. Below is a list of potential classes I could offer (some course descriptions can be found at http://tonywattbluegrass.com/classes/):

1. Bluegrass Band Ensemble Class
2. Advanced Bluegrass Band Class (for those who have taken the Bluegrass Band Ensemble Class before, or who have already played in bands)
3. Wernick Method Bluegrass Jamming Class
4. Beginning Bluegrass Harmony Singing
5. Beginning Ear Training for Bluegrass Musicians
6. Beginning Music Theory for Bluegrass Musicians
7. Beginning Bluegrass Mandolin: Rhythm & Lead
8. Beginning Bluegrass Lead Flatpicking Guitar
9. Bluegrass Rhythm Guitar: Basics and Beyond
10. Beginning Bluegrass Banjo
11. Repertoire Expansion Classes (tied to specific jams)

and here are some available time slots:

A. Mondays from 9 until 10 pm
B. various Tuesdays starting at 8:30 pm
C. Thursdays between 7 and 10 pm
D. Fridays between 7 and 10 pm
E. Saturday mid-day or afternoon
F. Sunday late morning or early afternoon

Please let me know if you're interested in any of these classes, and if so, which day(s)/time(s) would potentially work best for you. Please note that your reply does not constitute a commitment on your part to attend a class, but instead is just a way to increase the chances that you might be able to attend a class that you're interested in. If you don't see a class listed that you'd be interested in taking, or if you have any other questions, please e-mail me at tonywatt@gmail.com

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. The Early-Bird Discount expires February 28th, and the BBU Member discount expires March 15th. 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 Early-Bird Discount expires February 28th, and 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.

OTHER 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.


NORTH CAMBRIDGE LOCATION

Lessons, jams, classes, etc. are usually held in north Cambridge, about 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.

MAILING LIST SIGN-UP

Want to join my mailing list?

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!