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Boone JAMS: Summer Jams, Music Lessons for Folks of All Ages at the Jones House

The Jones House is most well-known, perhaps, for the outdoor summer concert series, but there are lots of opportunities for everyone to get involved with some porch picking this month, with slow jams, fast jams, and music lessons.

Each Thursday night, the Jones House Cultural and Community Center buzzes with students, young and old, toting instruments in and out of the back door for weekly music lessons and old-time jam sessions.  Boone JAMS (Junior Appalachian Musicians) began at the Jones House 10 years ago, and today the program continues offering group lessons for kids and adults in fiddle, banjo, guitar, mandolin, ukulele, dulcimer, and flatfoot dancing.

Fiddle Jam

“The program is a great way to try starting a new instrument, or to learn some new skills on one you already play,” says program director, Mark Freed.  “We offer classes for beginners through intermediate players, and occasionally we have advanced classes.”

The next session of lessons is a five-week program, starting on June 30.  Classes meet in groups of 4-8 students for 45-minutes, starting at 4:30, 5:30, or 6:30, depending on the instrument and playing level.  Tuition for the five-week summer session is $35 for kids and $50 for adult.

Don’t have an instrument?  No problem.  The program offers rental instruments for $10.

To register for the summer session, call or send an email to Mark Freed (mark.freed@townofboone.netor 828.268.6282) with the student’s name, age, instrument of choice, and any prior playing experience.

For those who are ready to get started before the end of the month, the Jones House will also be featuring “slow jams” on June 9,. 16, and 23, from 5:30-7:30.  These free jam sessions are led by hired expert musicians, who help organize the jamming in the various rooms of the Jones House.  On June 9, master blues guitarist, Rob Baskerville, of the King Bees, will host a blues jam in the parlor room.  Folk singer, Deborah Jean Sheets, of the Sheets Family Band, will lead a singing session in one of the upstairs jamming rooms.  Master old-time fiddler, Cecil Gurganus, will lead a fiddle-tunes jam in the Mazie Jones Gallery.  The jam leaders will help participants get in the right key and understand the general structure of the tune, and they will lead a moderate-paced jam session.

And, for those ready to go full throttle, the regular Jones House Old-Time jam still takes place each week, from 7:30-11:00 p.m. all year round.  The old-time jam has been held weekly for more than 10 years, skipping only a week or two around the holidays.  The old-time jam is featured in the Blue Ridge Music Trails and Blue Ridge National Heritage Area cultural tourism efforts, and visitors frequent the free weekly event to play or just listen and enjoy.

“The jam sessions give people a chance to be up close and personal to the old tunes and playing styles that have thrived in the region for generations,” Freed adds.

For more information about the Boone JAMS music lessons program, the June “slow jams” or the weekly old-time jam, please visit www.joneshouse.org or call 828.268.6280.

Rob Baskerville Blues Jam
Rob Baskerville Blues Jam