Bluegrass jam sessions held at USO

17 Nov 2011 | Cpl. Miranda Blackburn

From "front-porch pickers" to professional musicians, community members gathered at the USO of North Carolina-Jacksonville center to share their love for bluegrass music.

Every second Thursday of each month, the USO holds a Bluegrass Jam from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m.

The informal-style concert is open to all bluegrass musicians who are looking for a place to showcase their talent and anyone looking for a night of family-friendly entertainment.

As the doors opened, stringed instruments from fiddles and bass to banjos and guitars filled the ball room and produced the most pure, wholesome, southern-charm sounds for "hillbilly jazz" lovers to take pleasure in.

Musicians and singers rotated from taking center stage to creating improvised accompaniment that seemed to mesh perfectly with the other creative instrumentals.

"This is our fourth or fifth time attending," said Anne Hendricks, who attended with her husband Leu. "Some friends of ours invited us and since then it's been a phenomenal experience. We both really enjoy bluegrass and country-western inspired music."

The Bluegrass Jam has been an ongoing event at the USO since October 2010.

"We first got started after a letter to the editor was written about people (who) liked bluegrass music, but didn't have a place to go listen," said Roger Alvis, a regular Bluegrass Jam attendee. "I wrote a letter in response saying that there were plenty of bluegrass players and pickers around but they just had no place to play."

The very same day his letter was published, someone from the USO contacted him saying they would provide facilities for the monthly jam sessions.

"Just like anything else, when you're first getting it off the ground it takes a little while for word to get around," said Alvis. "But after doing it for more than a year now, we've had some really good crowds."

To join in the festivities, the USO of North Carolina-Jacksonville center asks for $1 donations from attendants 12 years and older.

The snack bar stays open as well and offers drinks and food to those who attend the jam.

For more information, call the USO of North Carolina-Jacksonville center at 455-3411. Interested musicians should contact Alvis at 353-0416.