On most Tuesday evenings, Spring through Fall, you will find me on the patio at Ragtag CinemaCafé playing old-time music with several of my friends, just for the fun of it. We usually arrive about 7:30 and play until about 9:30. Usually the group includes Pippa on fiddle, Cliff on guitar, Molly on mandolin, Jim on banjo, Rhett on banjo, and me on keyboard. Sometimes others will also join in. Every now and then spontaneous dancing will break out on the patio.
Although we occasionally play together as the Two Cent String Band for dances or other events, where we might actually earn a few dollars (we’ll travel hundreds of miles for tens of dollars), on Tuesdays we just enjoy getting together and playing tunes. It reminds me of when we were kids and you would go around the neighborhood with your ball or your bike or your skates and try to find someone else who wanted to play with you. Now it’s like, “Hey, I have a banjo. Want to come out and play?”
I took piano lessons for years and years, starting when I was 5 years old, and I always enjoyed learning to play and performing at piano play parties for Christmas and at the spring recitals (well, except for that time I forgot the entire Moonlight Sonata, but we won’t talk about that). I even considered majoring in music in college, but I thought that would be too impractical. But it’s only been in the last 15 years that I have met people who decided to pick up difficult instruments like the fiddle and learn to play–just because. Not because they wanted to be professional musicians. Not because someone told them it was good for them. They just wanted to play.
It turns out there are people all over town who get together regular as clockwork to do just that. In addition to our little group that plays on Tuesdays, there is an Irish session that meets at someone’s house on Wednesdays and a bluegrass/old-time jam that meets on the same night at a different house. There is an old-time jam at the Historical Society. A few miles north of town, in Hallsville, master fiddler John White hosts an old-time jam the second Saturday of every month, followed by a pot luck and square dance. I’ve heard tell of a blues jam and song circles around the area. Who knew?