Roots music jam sessions in Central Virginia (Richmond, Ashland, Fredericksburg, Petersburg)
This year I have vowed to start attending more jam sessions. I live near Richmond, VA and fortunately there are many such hootenannies and meetups supported by a close-knit and very encouraging traditional music community. Here are a few of the gatherings that take place on a regular basis.
Ashland Station Cafe Jam – I co-host this railside jam with multi-instrumentalist and music instructor Jake Moore. This is a fun, friendly, slightly inauthentic but well organized session. A mixture of Irish, old time and contradance tunes are covered, with the occasional bluegrass song, folk song or sea chantey thrown in. Clawhammer banjo, ukulele, tin whistle and bodhran players can intermingle here. It’s open to all, from novice to purty good. Fakebooks and lead sheets are welcome. 10am to 1pm every other Saturday at The Station Cafe, 113 South Railroad Avenue, Ashland, VA. Join the Facebook group or contact me for specific dates and details.
Rosie Connolly’s Seisiun – Long running Irish session in Richmond’s historic Shockoe Bottom. Rosie Connolly’s is what I would consider an authentic Irish pub and this jam attracts some seasoned Celtic musicians. Meets the 2nd and 4th Wednesdays from 8-11pm or so. RosieConnolly’s Pub and Restaurant – 1548A East Main Street, Richmond, VA. Rosies’s faces the 17th Street Farmers Market. Next to Havana 59.
Blue and Grey Brewery Session – Fredericksburg. This is a lively jam/performance consisting of pub songs (Star of the County Down, Dirty Old Town, Whiskey in the Jar, Tell Me Ma, etc.) and trad tunes like Lilting Banshee, The Butterfly, Rights of Man, and so on. This group is very friendly, social and casual. Musicians set up in the middle of Blue and Grey’s Lee’s Retreat brewpub and the restaurant’s patrons seems to really enjoy the music. 1st Fridays from about 7:30 to 10:30pm, and the occasional Wednesday. 3300 Dill Smith Drive, Fredericksburg, VA 22408 in the Bowman Center across from the local fair grounds. About an hour north of Richmond, but only 40-45 minutes from Ashland!
Hiram Haines Celtic Session – Players and listeners of all levels are invited to this session where Celtic tunes of all kinds are played the second Saturday of each month at Hiram Haines Literary Coffee House in Petersburg. Begins at 7 p.m. and lasts until… pretty late! This session strives to stay as close as possible to the traditional sessions you might enjoy in local pubs in Ireland, but also gives players who do not have a lot of “session experience” an opportunity to learn. For more information, visit the Facebook group called Hiram Haines Celtic Session. Second Saturdays, 7 p.m. Hiram Haines Literary Coffee House, 12 Bank Street, Petersburg, VA.
Cary St. Cafe – This is the place to learn old-time music in Richmond. A strictly “play-by-ear” environment where some of Richmond’s best traditional musicians gather every Sunday. Cary St. Cafe is a cool Deadhead bar with some of the best pub grub in town. Newbies are advised to sit in the back row, play quietly, and try to grab a few notes as they fly by. Every Sunday from 2-5pm. Cary Street Café – 2631 West Cary Street, Richmond, VA.
Jahnke Road – This super-sized jam seemingly has all the regional music covered – bluegrass, gospel, country…but old-time fiddlers, clawhammer banjoists and dulcimer players gather in an upstairs room to run through tunebook favorites in the venerable keys of D, G and A. The second Tuesday of every month. Jahnke Road Baptist Church, 6023 Jahnke Road, Richmond, VA. Players are expected to make a small (optional) donation to a collection plate.
Rockwood Jam – Attended mostly same group of folkies who are at the Jahnke Rd. old time jam. This is held in a large room at a nature park and some people just come to listen. The 4th Tuesday of the month from 7 – 9:30pm at The Nature Center at Chesterfield County’s Rockwood Park – 3401 Courthouse Road, Richmond, VA.
River City Ukulele Society – These ukers works out of a songbook of about 40 classic songs. The time is spent learning and practicing these songs with the goal of developing a repertoire that everyone will know and play in the same key. Every 1st and 3rd Tuesday from 7 to 8:30pm at Sam Ash Music, 9110 West Broad Street, Richmond, VA.
For a complete list of jams in Central VA, please see the Roots and Traditional Music Calendar.
Lanny Fields is learning Irish, Old Time and Mento tenor banjo. He writes about music and more at sixwatergrog.com.