Did you know there's bluegrass and traditional music on at least four Hawaiian islands? The high lonesome sound is everywhere! Please click below to learn more about recurring events on a specific island. (If you're looking for information about bluegrass & traditional acts on each island, visit our BANDS page.)
HOW TO JAM WITH BLUEGRASS HAWAI`I
Musicians with unplugged traditional instruments, playing acoustic bluegrass, newgrass, mountain, roots, traditional country, Hawaiian, Americana, folk, Western, Celtic, and Irish music, are welcome! Here are some tips to jam by:
- KEEP IN TUNE, preferably with an electronic tuner! If you're having trouble with this, ask someone to help!
- KEEP IN TIME! Many traditional styles have their own rhythmic structure and pace. Try to synchronize your rhythm and pace with the others. If you find this difficult, please play quietly and/or a bit away from the group, or you may throw off the rhythm of the other jammers.
- BLEND IN, DON'T BARGE IN! Unless you're singing lead or playing lead, your job is to support the others. If somebody else is singing, or playing an instrumental break, back off a bit.
- LEARN BY IMITATING someone else who plays your instrument the way you'd like to play.
- TAKE TURNS CALLING TUNES! Please don't try to dominate a jam by picking every song it plays. If you do, you may find that people are reluctant to jam with you. If the group asks for a song suggestion, consider the kinds of songs and style they've been playing. After your tune is played, invite somebody else to select a tune!
- TAKE TURNS WITH VOCALS! There are a maximum of four or five harmony parts on most tunes: lead, high baritone, tenor, baritone, and bass. Try not to dominate any single vocal part! Give your voice a workout by singing another part that is close to your range.
- INVITE INSTRUMENTAL BREAKS! If you're the person who chooses the tune, don't forget to invite people to take instrumental breaks after you sing the choruses in your tune! You can do this by calling out instruments, or names.
- CHOOSE APPROPRIATE TUNES!If the group asks for a song suggestion, consider the kinds of songs and style they've been playing, and try to keep your suggestions within the same genre.
- KEEP PICKIN', EVEN IF IT HURTS! If you make a mistake in the middle of a song, don't go back to do it over; just go on to the next thing in the song along with everyone else.
- LOOK AT THEIR HANDS! Learn to "read" the hand positions of the guitar players so that you can anticipate chord changes. After you've been jamming for a while, you might even want to learn the Nashville Number system, which helps jammers communicate chord changes quickly and easily.
- BREAK AWAY AND START YOUR OWN JAM! The big group at our jams seems to naturally focus on bluegrass, traditional roots, and old-time acoustic music. However, the parks we jam at are huge! Feel free to break away and start a NEW jam, if you'd like to focus on a particular style or pace, especially one that is different from the main group.
- JAM UNTO OTHERS! If you're new to bluegrass jamming, the best thing to do is to watch the other people in our group, and take your cues from them. The bluegrass community is known for being very welcoming and tolerant, and our gang will put up with just about any gaffe or rudeness committed by a newbie--but boorish behavior gets tiring in ANY group after a while. Nobody wants to be the kind of jammer that can clear a room!
- PLEASE LEAVE YOUR DRUMS AT HOME! Sorry, we recognize that there is plenty of room for discussion as to whether bluegrass should or should not include drums, however the problem for us is that for jam sessions which are not amplified (as all our sessions are), drums are just too loud, drown out the softer instruments (guitar, autoharp, ukes, etc.), and generally make everyone feel that they have to play as loud as possible just to be heard. Cardboard boxes played with brushes are ok (we think), but the general consensus of most of us is that we'd be happier not having to play against a percussion rhythm section.
- JAM WITH ALOHA! Remember: everyone is here to have fun! Please be kind, helpful, and friendly to your fellow pickers!
BLUEGRASS HAWAII MONTHLY JAM SESSIONS
Please come and join us at one of our FREE jam sessions! If you play an unplugged traditional instrument, and like acoustic bluegrass, newgrass, mountain, roots, traditional country, Hawaiian, Americana, folk, Western, Celtic, and Irish music, you are welcome to come and jam along! (Listeners, of course, are welcome, too!)
We are often joined by great musicians from out of town. Be prepared for some really exciting and spontaneous pickin' adventures!
TIME/LOCATION:IMPORTANT!Our jams take place on
different weekends each month, and in different locations! Please
visit our home page for information about the next jam!
BRING: Traditional instruments if you have 'em; lawnchairs or blanket (important!); picnic and beverages if you want 'em
COST: FREE to all!
CONTACT: Larry Hines at email@example.com
Bluegrass Jam at Big City Diner, Kailua
First Tuesday of each month, 7:00 pm to 10:00 pm
Please join us at Big City Diner, 108 Hekili Street #101, Kailua for an evening of good food, good beer, and good jams! The music starts around 7 pm, but don't forget to come early and enjoy some of the excellent menu and give BCD some of our business. We play on the outdoor lanai, so bring a sweater and an armless chair if you need one. See you there!
Neal's Bluegrass Jam at Ruby Tuesday
Second Tuesday of Each Month
Moanalua Shopping Center (near Navy Exchange)
Second Tuesday of each month, 7:00 pm to 10:00 pm immediately following guitarist Johnny Kamai. One more Tuesday night to have fun, 930 Valkenburgh St. There's an excellent and large covered outdoor lanai removed from traffic noise. Be sure to arrive early for some good grinds and bring an armless chair if you need one.
Jam at the Bonzer Front
Third Thursday of Each Month
Third Thursday of each month, jam at the Bonzer Front, Haleiwa, from 5:30 pm to 9:00 pm. Want to make an evening of it? Call the Cafe Haleiwa at 637-5516 to make a reservation for dinner, and have pupus and drinks at the Bonzer Front, 637-3420.
Traditional Music Jam (TradJam)--O`ahu
Traditional music jam (Celtic and old-time music) with acoustic or acoustic-style instruments. Music stands are helpful; singers and beginners are welcome! TradJams usually happen on the first Saturday of the month in the afternoons from 3:00 til 6:00, depending on availability of space and conflicts with other musical activities.
DATE & TIME: First Saturday of the month from 3:00 til 6:00
LOCATION: Various; often Church of the Crossroads, 1212 University Avenue, OR Manoa Gardens Elderly Housing, 2790 Kahaloa Dr.
BRING: Acoustic and acoustic-style instruments; music stands
NOTES: Temporary parking passes are no longer being honored, but no passes or payment are needed in the Early School lot.
MOTTO: "We're slow, but we're fun."
Fourth Sunday of each month
Bluegrass Hawaii Half-Fast Bluegrass Philharmonic Society
This group was formed to provide jam opportunities for novice bluegrass players. Since its inception more advanced musicians who can tolerate and even mentor beginners have joined in. If you fall into any of these three categories we'd like you to join us. Locations vary and are hosted by Half-Fast members around the island. We'll usually be gathering on the 4th Saturday of each month at 2:00 P.M. for three or four hours. Many of the things we play are taken from the Bluegrass Fakebook, Bluegrass Songbook, and Bluegrass Picker's Tune Book all available from www.amazon.com but we go pretty far afield from those, too, with a nod to Celtic and even doo-wop from time to time. We have some sort of pot-luck refreshments about half-way through our half-fast session.
For directions e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. Space is sometimes limited so let us know if you are coming. We'll make efforts to contact everyone a few days before the event as locations my change before a session.
First & Third Saturdays
Contradancers Of Hawaii (O`ahu)
Music and dancing in the Celtic tradition, as influenced by the American experience. The musical traditions of Irish, Scottish, and English settlers of the Northeastern United States were perpetuated in rural New England, and are experiencing a modern-day renaissance. The dances include jigs, reels, waltzes, hornpipes, and airs. The Contradancers Of Hawaii always have live music played by some really fine musicians! Visitors to Hawai'i are particularly invited to attend. Visit contradancehi.weebly.com for info.
Time/Day: 7:30-10:00 pm, on the first and third Saturdays of each month
Location: Kapiolani Community College Chapel, 4266 Diamond Head Road
Notes: Live music is provided by Whiskey Starship, no dance partner or experience is required, and dress is casual; wear comfortable no-scuff shoes.
NOTE TO NEWCOMERS: if you haven't Contra danced before, try to get there 15 minutes early for the dance orientation. The first part of the evening is especially good for getting a feel for what it's all about. The caller will explain and teach all the moves for every dance, all evening. All dances are taught and new dancers are welcome to jump in at any time.
For more information or if you are interested in carpooling, contact:
BIG ISLAND OF HAWAI`I
Willis Saturday Jam (Big Island)
Do you live on the Big Island of Hawai`i, or visit there frequently? Our friends Barry & Jan Willis in Kona host a monthly jam (called the "Willis Saturday Jam") at their lovely home in Kona Heavens on the Big Island. Jams take place on the first Saturday of each month. Each jam starts at about 1:30 PM and end at about 6:00 PM.
Listeners, singers, and pickers are all welcome. Barry and Jan encourage all acoustic players, not just bluegrass or country, to join the fun. Rain or shine - it doesn't matter - the jam can happen inside or out. Please bring a potluck dish to share!
Pickers, and listeners!, from other counties are welcome; the Willises will even pick you up at the airport and get you back in time for your flight home. Contact email@example.com or call 808-325-0321.
Bluegrass Radio Show (Kaua`i)
Yeeeehaaaa, friends and neighbors! There's a bluegrass radio show on KKCR 90.9 and 91.9 FM on the Garden Island of Kauai every Tuesday from 2:00--4:00 PM. It's also broadcast LIVE on the station's website at www.kkcr.org. Join YA! (your Hanalei bluegrass deejay) as he opens the two-hour show with a half-hour selection of tasty Americana music. The remainder of the streaming audio show is devoted to the best of bluegrass! Click here for details!
Maui Singalong Circle
The Maui Singalong Circle is a group of people who love to gather to sing and play music together twice a month. Here is some information for those who may be interested in participating in this singalong:
We play and sing a wide variety of songs from the "Rise Up Singing" songbook, available online for about $30 from Amazon.com or directly from the publisher at www.singout.org. We recommend the larger print "leaders edition" which is much easier to read than the smaller regular version.
We go around the circle taking turns choosing and leading songs from the book, and people always have the option to pass. The comprehensive collection contains words and guitar chords to nearly 1200 songs arranged in a compact, easy-to-use format. The collection includes:
- "Folk Revival" favorites by Baez, Seeger, Collins, Peter, Paul & Mary, Dylan, Mitchell, Taylor, Donovan, Denver & more
- Contemporary folk songs from Near, Staines, Williamson, Rogers, Bok & many more
- Broadway show tunes, Beatles' songs, Motown hits
- Hymns, spirituals and gospel standards
- Songs about peace, freedom, labor and the environment
- Ballads, cowboy songs, chanteys and blues
Some of us occasionally bring other songs not in the Rise Up Singing book to play. If you do bring other songs, please bring 12-15 copies or so and try to keep the songs to 1 page; having the chords written above the lyrics. If you bring a song to share you should be familiar enough to lead the group in playing it.
Singers & acoustic instruments welcome! We're not set up to handle electrics or trap drum sets at the locations where we gather, so we need to keep it acoustic and not amplified. Several of our group play guitar or ukulele, while others play banjo, and fiddle; the occasional mandolin, dulcimer and autoharp shows up as well. Many of the group are just singers without playing an instrument, while others may sometimes prefer to just listen. Musicians are encouraged to bring their own music stand and some clips to keep those pages from "blowin' in the wind."
While the time and location of the Maui Singalong Circle's gatherings are subject to change, we currently meet twice a month on the first Wednesday of the month in the Garden Room of the Kalama Heights Retirement Community in Kihei, from 6:30 p.m. to 8:00 p.m., and on the third Saturday of the month at The Sacred Garden, a nursery and peace sanctuary in Makawao, from 3:00 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. Directions and notices are sent out a few days before the gatherings.
If you would like to participate in a fun time singing and playing music with others, send an email to the Maui Singalong Circle's coordinator, Phil Peacock at firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject "Please Add Me to the Maui Singalong Circle List" and he'll add you to the email list for notification and details about the gatherings. Please include your name and the email address where you'd like the notices sent. Notices are sent using BCC so your names and contact info won't be provided to others.
All are welcome to come and have fun singing and playing music together.