Categorized | Arts & Entertainment

Wooster Bluegrass Jam plays for the community

Holly Engel

Staff Writer

Since the early 1900s, bluegrass music, a mixture of country, folk, gospel and blues, has inspired musicians throughout the world with its unique rhythms and harmonies. So, it is no surprise that bluegrass has eventually woven its way into the Wooster community.

Wooster Bluegrass Jam is an unchartered group of musicians and music lovers that gather once a week, usually on Sundays at 9 p.m. at the Kauke Arch, to jam out and listen to bluegrass music. In a video about Bluegrass Jam posted to YouTube featuring Jeremy Smucker ’19, Smucker discusses the diverse songs, instruments and people involved in the group. “We play some bluegrass classics, as well as some pop folk music, and it’s open to all skill levels and any instruments,” he said. “We have a lot of unique instrumentations in Bluegrass club including some non-traditional instruments.” Included in these bluegrass instruments are guitar, voice, fiddle, mandolin, banjo and many others.

Smucker also believes that the group is a positive indicator of the attitude of the College’s students. “I’d say part of the reason why I went to Wooster is [that] when I visited here, I just noticed how down-to-earth and real everybody seemed, and Bluegrass Jam definitely reflects that,” said Smucker.  “I think it’s awesome that we’re able just to pick up our instruments and play every Sunday night in the Arch. Maybe at a larger school, you wouldn’t be able to make connections like that.”

Kennedy McKain ’19, a violin performance major, has been going to Bluegrass since her first year at Wooster, and overall, she has had a fun experience. “I enjoy how accessible and collaborative the group is,” she commented. “You don’t have to play an instrument. You can hum, sing, beat a tambourine, and you’re a part of Bluegrass. I also think that because this isn’t a chartered student organization, it really gives the group a lot of free form, which is great from a creative aspect.” 

McKain sang with the group her first year, but now she enjoys fiddling though bluegrass is a very different style from the classical and contemporary music she is used to playing. “I decided to throw myself out there and try something different and I loved it,” she said. “Funny enough, it’s shaped the way I perform my classical music and how I present what I have to play in different settings.”

One of McKain’s favorite memories from Bluegrass is how one night, when playing “Folsome Prison Blues” by Johnny Cash, as the group sang the line “I hear the train a-comin,’” a train whistle sounded from downtown. “The smiles on everyone’s faces at such serendipitous timing is forever with me,” she remarked.

No matter the amount of musical experience, anyone is welcome to come out and listen or play. Generally, Bluegrass meets on Sundays at 9 p.m. in the Arch, weather permitting. Any updates on location, time and events can be found on the group’s Facebook page under “Bluegrass Jam.” Get out of those Sunday night blues and come play along!

(Photo by Kennedy McKain)

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