Join us every Wednesday from 7pm – 9:30pm for the Machine House Brewery jam in Seattle’s Hillman City neighborhood led by Matt C Bruno. Here’s the Facebook invite as well. Check back to this page often for the song of the week, updated backing tracks, and a lot more!
If you have any questions on the jam, check out the Bluegrass Jam FAQ. If you can’t find the answer there, feel free to contact me.
Please make sure you read the Bluegrass Jam Etiquette if you are new to jams.
By the way, we’re part of the Outlanders Progressive Bluegrass Social Club. Check out our site for more local jams and other information!
Slow Jam Course!
If you’re not feeling quiet ready to play in bluegrass jams, this course is for you. In the course, we’ll review common jam songs, basics of solo breaks, and how to “read” other players. The next Slow Jam Course is January 2024.
You can get details and register here.
Need backing tracks to practice?
I’ve created a Song of the Week list in Strum Machine to help! Check out the Strum Machine list here. If you don’t have Strum Machine already, use this link to get an account (you pay the same for the app, but I get a small referral fee which helps).
Song / Tune of the Week
In my opinion, jams should be focused on things like community, fun, and education. Community and fun usually just happen when good people get together. Education however is a bit more active. Learning new songs to bring to a jam is one of the best ways to have fun while learning – but it can be to bring in new songs on the fly.
So, here’s the game plan: Every week, I’ll handpick a tune that’s destined for the spotlight in the upcoming jam. Expect a mix of challenging melodies and some timeless standards thrown into the mix. I’ll drop chord charts and recordings right here for your perusal. If you have any questions on the tune, catch me about 15 minutes before the official kickoff. We’ll run through the chosen tunes or feel free to shoot me a message before the jam if that’s more your speed. Jammers, I’m nudging you to give the selected tune your best shot, jam along if you fancy—it’s all in good spirit, no obligation. And hey, if there’s a particular song or tune tickling your fancy that you think deserves the spotlight, just give me a holler!
Last, if you’re new to bluegrass jams, check out the Jam Etiquette page here. If you have questions on the basic structure of the Machine House Brewery jam, check out the Jam FAQ here.
Week 8 – December 13, 2023 – Goodbye Old Pal & Jingle Bell Rock
Since it’s the holidays and I’ll be out of town on 12/20, I figured we’ll do two songs this week. One bluegrass, one holiday song.
On the bluegrass side, we’re going back to some Bill Monroe tunes! Goodbye Old Pal is a classic tune that I only really hear called at festivals. So I figured we’d bring it in to the Seattle Bluegrass Jams! It’s hard to beat songs with a little yodel in them!
Note that the vocals have some extra measures in them that are not in the solo breaks.
On the holiday song side, Jingle Bell Rock. Given this songs complexity, we may or may not actually get to play it at the jam. If we do, this may be a vocal only (no solo break) tune. However, I did have some requests for this tune, so I figured I’d share.
Week 7 – December 6, 2023 – The Girl I Left Behind Me
One of my favorite under called songs! Like most older traditional tunes, you can play this either as a lyrical song or a fiddle tune. For this jam, we’ll be doing the lyrical song version – but I’m including sheet music for the melody as well.
This tune originates from the roughly 1790’s as an Irish tune called Brighton Camp (which was also played as both a fiddle tune and a lyrical song). Sometime in the 1800’s the song came to the US during the war of 1812 and the lyrics changed a bit – though it was still played frequently as a fiddle tune without lyrics. Eventually Bob Wills brought the song to Western Swing style and it changed yet again.
For the jam, I’m using the older lyrics because I like them a bit better. Note, the form for this song is Verse Verse Chorus (or AAB). Solos / breaks are just over the verses and everyone gets 2 verses.
Week 6 – November 29, 2023 – Nellie Kane
Nellie Kane is a great song written by Tim O’Brien. The tricky part of this song is that the verse has an extra measure compared to “standard” bluegrass tunes. Basically, the verse is 5 measures for this song.
Week 5 – November 22, 2023 – Don’t This Road Look Rough and Rocky
Week 4 – November 15, 2023 – Soldier’s Joy
- Nashville Numbering chart
- Sheet music
Week 3 – November 8, 2023 – Mean Mother Blues
Week 2 – November 1, 2023 – Steam Powered Aereo Plane by John Hartford
Week 1 – October 25, 2023 – Girl at the Crossroads Bar by Larry Sparks
- I’m a new / beginner bluegrass player, can I join?
- Yes! Provided you can play rhythm chords for basic songs on your instrument, you can most likely participate just fine. We don’t have many rules, but please review the Jam Etiquette page before the jam as you’ll be expected to follow these. Also, it’s a good idea to know the Nashville Numbering System as many tunes are called by number (i.e. 1 4 5 in G).
- Are non-bluegrass songs allowed?
- Yes and no. This is a bluegrass jam, so all songs must be played in a bluegrass way. Songs from other genres are allowed but they must be played like a bluegrass song and not be a jam buster. As awesome as bluegrass Steely Dan is, this isn’t the right venue for playing those songs. The host may veto non-bluegrass songs at their discretion. Please don’t be upset if your non-bluegrass tune gets vetoed. It’s not anything personal – just trying to keep the jam bluegrass.
- Can I play an original song?
- If your original is a bluegrass song that is easy to follow, yes – however this is not an open mic night and the host may veto originals. Best to ask before you start.
- Is there a cost for the jam?
- Nope. Free to all, but please remember to support the venue. That means buying beer, tipping the bartender etc. Also, buying the host a beer is considered proper etiquette 🙂
- I’m not comfortable leading songs, can I still join?
- Of course! You don’t have to lead if you’re not comfortable yet – but it’s always encouraged! If you’re looking for tunes to learn, check out my chart page.
- Can I use sheet music or chord charts?
- Sure you can! Check out my list here! If you do bring charts, make sure they aren’t in the way of others (i.e. music stands are not ideal). That said, it’s always a good idea to be able to play without charts when possible – so I’d encourage you to memorize instead.
- Are dogs allowed?
- Yes! Feel free to bring your pup!
- I don’t drink, can I still come?
- Of course – just means more for me! I’d encourage you to still provide a tip for the bartender (and, maybe get a beer for the host too!)
- Can under 21 folks come?
- Yes! This is an all ages jam.
- What if I hate the song of the week (or just didn’t learn it)?
- You’re not required to play on any tune – so if you don’t like it, just sit out or get a beer. No hard feelings.
- Does Machine House Brewery have food?
- No but you can bring your own. If there’s enough interest, we’ll try to book a food truck too. Let the host know if you want food there.
Questions / Comments?
If you have a question or comment on the jam, just reach out to me here.
Dontations really help me keep things going – so if you do like the jams, consider donating to my site.
If you’re interested in learning more about mandolin, jamming, and music theory, you can reach me for Personal Coaching here and subscribe to be notified when I post new free lessons and song breakdowns below.