Old-Time Music Jam


I marvel in the powers of the internet for good. After a glorious week in Fiddle Camp in June, I was hoping to find some sort of place where I could fiddle with folks here, knowing that it might be hard to find Celtic fiddling. Reading the EnglishForum every day led me to a group that meets at an Irish Pub to play Old-Time Music once a month. I contacted the organizer and she put me on her list and had me sign up on the MeetUp Site. (One can find a myriad of activities on this site, from hiking to coffee, books to pub crawls, music to food and yoga and more.) 

Before our arrival I “liked” the McGee’s Irish Pub site on Facebook and see that it serves a variety of ethnic foods on different days, but I’m not sure I am ready to try Mexican Food at an Irish Pub in Switzerland.

ANYway, H and I walked over to McGee’s last evening, and I was one of 3 fiddlers, along with several banjos, some mandolins, a bass and a guitar. Maybe about 12 of us altogether. The jam is hosted by a Zürich-based Old-Time Band called The Roustabouts, and the website (in German) is here. I sat between two of the band members – Elizabeth (from Chicago), and Caspar (from Switzerland) and they very kindly let me play along. Some of the songs I knew, so I could join in. Some were completely new, so I looked at the chords they placed on the floor and played back-up and joined in at places where I figured it out. I also sang along in the easy parts. I had a lot of fun.

Since I have a month before the next jam, I will peruse their website and listen to more of the tunes so I can hopefully play along more. I have long been a fan of Bluegrass, and I am now learning the differences between Bluegrass and Old-Time, which will be one of my personal projects this year. One of the main differences that I just learned is that Bluegrass is more “show” oriented – for performance and for showing off individual talent. Old-Time is more about people sitting around on the porch in a circle and playing the same thing together – a communal activity.


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