Do you ever wonder where you can have fun playing and listening to bluegrass music here in San Diego? Fortunately, the answer to that question is: lots of places. Let’s take a quick look at some of the opportunities here in our home town, focusing on places where you can jam and participate as well as listen to some great bluegrass music. This month we will look only at those recurring events that happen on an ongoing basis. In a future issue we will take a look at some of the concert venues.
Every Tuesday is bluegrass night in San Diego as there are recurring bluegrass jam sessions and events on every Tuesday of every month. Here?s where you can find the Tuesday action.
First Tuesday of Every Month: At the Round Table Pizza at the corner of Washington and Ash in Escondido. The action starts at 6:30pm and goes to 9pm with pickup bands performing on stage from 6:30-8pm, and a featured band in concert from 8-9pm. The public is welcome and there is no admission charge, although donations are solicited. There is also usually lots of informal jamming in the parking lot. The First Tuesdays are hosted by the North San Diego County Bluegrass and Folk Club; you can learn more about their programs at their website: http://www.northcountybluegrass.org.
Second Tuesday of Every Month: At Fuddruckers restaurant in Grossmont Center in La Mesa. This get-together features lots of jamming on the patio in addition to open mic and pick-up bands performing on stage. The event is hosted by the San Diego Bluegrass Society, admission is free, and donations are solicited. To sign up for an open mic slot send an email to: firstname.lastname@example.org, or, space permitting, sign up on site.
Third Tuesday of Every Month: You’ll find the action at New Expression Music (formerly Old Time Music) now located at 4434 30th Street just north of El Cajon Boulevard. From 6:30 to 7:30pm there is a structured slow jam led by acclaimed music teacher Janet Beazley. Admission to SDBS members is free, and $5 to others. The slow jam focuses on learning to play classic bluegrass tunes at non-breakneck speed under the careful tutelage of Janet Beazley. To sign up, send Janet an e-mail at: email@example.com.
Third Tuesday also features an open jam in a separate room for more advanced players, which runs 6:30-9pm. Participants in the slow jam are welcome to attend the open jam after their session ends.
The third Tuesday events are sponsored by the San Diego Bluegrass Society.
Fourth Tuesday of Every Month: This meet-up, also sponsored by SDBS, finds the action at the Boll Weevil restaurant located at 9330 Clairemont Mesa Boulevard. There is an open mic and pick-up bands from 6:30 to 8pm, with a featured band presented in concert from 8 to 9pm. Admission is free and donations are solicited. There’s also jamming in the outdoor areas.
If Tuesdays are not a good night for you, take heart, as the following regular events occur on other days.
Every Wednesday: Emma’s Gut Bucket Band, sponsored by SDBS, meets at the Walt Whitman Elementary School at 4050 Appleton Street in Clairemont. The group meets from 6:30 to 10pm and the action features a jam session open to the public. Typically, the group plays a number of fiddle tunes and then passes the jam around the circle, taking turns choosing tunes. The music is often quite varied, ranging from Hank Williams Jr., to hardcore bluegrass, to folk music. All levels of players are welcome with most players being at the intermediate level. You can learn more about this event and about the Gut Bucket Band at the group’s web site: http://www.larryedwards.com/egbb/index.html.
Every Thursday: There is a jam session held every Thursday of the month from 6:30 to 9pm at Today’s Pizza at 481 Santa Fe Drive in Encinitas. The sessions are led by banjo player extraordinaire Jason Weiss and the public is welcome. Attendees contribute $5 each and pizza and salads are shared by the group with the proceeds. This is generally an intermediate-level jam, although it is a great place for beginners to get involved and even the advanced pros can have a good time soloing and leading songs. Jason calls on those who want to solo and gives them that opportunity, while allowing the more timid to stay in the background playing rhythm.
Every Saturday: Every Saturday a jam is held at the Antique Gas and Steam Engine Museum located at 2040 North Santa Fe in Vista. The jam is located on the main outdoor stage.
The action starts generally around 11am with swing music, and then after a couple of hours moves into bluegrass. The event is open to anyone with no admission charge.
Sunday Bluegrass Brunch: Urban Solace, a fine dining establishment, presents a Bluegrass Brunch every Sunday from 10am to 2pm on its patio. Each week features a different bluegrass band. Those currently appearing include Prairie Sky, Chris Clarke and Plow, the Shirthouse Band, and the Virtual Strangers. You must be a customer of the restaurant to enjoy the music, but trust me, the food is excellent.
So, there is regular, recurring bluegrass ‘action’ essentially every Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Saturday of every month! Not bad for a West Coast city in the corner of the US.