‘This Is Our Jam’: Monthly event brings musicians together

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Area musicians are welcome to join the McGregor Acoustic Music Jam, held from 6 to 8 p.m. the second Monday of each month, at McGregor’s Convention, Conference and Community Center (former Methodist Church). (Photo by Audrey Posten)

By Audrey Posten, Times-Register


Gathered in a circle at McGregor’s Convention, Conference and Community Center, several musicians strummed guitars while one played the fiddle and another wailed away on the harmonica. Two flutists trilled out a tune, and singing voices joined the mix. Together, they performed “This Is Our Jam,” a take on the Woody Guthrie folk song “This Land Is Your Land.”


It was a fitting opening to that evening’s McGregor Acoustic Music Jam, a new monthly event that brings area musicians together to do just that: jam.


The group was organized by Ed James, who, with wife Bonnie, discovered the joy of jamming with fellow musicians while the two served in the Peace Corps. 


“Bonnie and I, when we retired from our careers in 2002-2003, we went into the Peace Corps in Guatemala. In our group, there was a fiddler from Kentucky, and the host family had a guitar. We started to play music,” James recalled. 


The couple discovered the host’s guitar was made locally, and they tracked down the makers. 


“They worked under a thatched roof, on a dirt floor,” said James. 


They ordered guitars and a fiddle and continued to perform with the group, which expanded to picnics and other gatherings. 


“We played in villages that had never had music before,” James shared.


That love didn’t abate when he and Bonnie returned to the U.S., where they joined other old time jams. 


“Recently, we’ve been spending more time in McGregor, and I thought it would be fun to jam in McGregor,” he said. “There are a lot of good musicians around.”


The McGregor Acoustic Music Jam is held from 6 to 8 p.m. the second Monday of each month, at the community center on Ann Street, formerly the McGregor Methodist Church. 


“This is a pretty good space for it, and it pours some life into this facility,” James said. 


Feb. 12 will be the event’s third installment. So far, 10 to 12 people have attended each jam, and more are welcome—no matter their skill level, instrument or musical interest.


“We play old time, folk, jazz, pop, whatever. It’s not focused on blue grass or country. All instruments, voices and listeners are welcome,” James said. 


He described the McGregor Acoustic Music Jam as joyful.


“It’s such a uniting, happy thing,” he quipped.

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