Imperial Dam LTVA Bluegrass Jam

Bluegrass Jam
Tuesday January 24 (last jam!), 3-5pm

Music Row 1

Why a Bluegrass Jam?
Bluegrass music is participatory and making music with others is fun.

All levels of pickers are welcome. Bring your guitar, uke, fiddle, mando, dobro or bass and come pick with us. Bluegrass, Bluegrass-adjacent, Country, and Americana.

Pickers, need a song or two to get started?

  1. Wildwood Flower
  2. Bury Me Beneath the Willow
  3. Banks of the Ohio
  4. Glendale Train
  5. Dooley
  6. In the Gravel Yard
  7. Ain’t Nobody Gonna Miss Me
  8. I Still Miss Someone
  9. Catfish John
  10. Little Cabin Home on the Hill
  11. I Wonder Where You Are Tonight
  12. I Shall Be Released
  13. Tom Dooley
  14. Old Home Place
  15. Ain’t Going Down to the River With You
  16. Tall Pines
  17. You’ll Get No More Of Me
  18. Tomorrow Is A Long Time
  19. Blue Collar Dreams
  20. Will the Circle Be Unbroken

What is a Bluegrass Jam?

These following three terms are often used interchangeably.

For our bluegrass jam we use #3.

  1. Open Mic – a group of musicians back up anyone singing or playing for an audience.
  2. Open Stage – typically individuals or small groups taking turns playing one or a couple songs for an audience.
  3. Bluegrass Jam – a circle of people playing music together adding their instrument to the song or an instrumental. Some sing and lead a song; some lead an instrumental tune or take an instrumental break; some play rhythm and chord changes. These jams provide opportunities to enjoy your instrument and voice without performance pressure. 
    • Music stands, binders, fake books, tabs and/or iPads with lyrics and tabs are welcome. If you have committed song lyrics and chords to memory, great. If not, no worries. Bring what you want and lead your songs with confidence. 🙂
    • Leading a song moves left around the circle.
    • It’s ok to pass if you don’t want to lead a song.
    • Breaks (the instrumental lead played by one instrument) also passes to the left. It’s ok to pass on taking an instrument break.
    • All players manage their volume so singers and breaks stand out. 
    • Bring a chair or stool.

Lyrics and Chords

Choosing the Key for a Song Based on Your Vocal Range

Chords for songs are usually provided in the key of the original artist. If your vocal range is different than that artist, it will be difficult for you to sing the song. Might even hurt your voice singing in the “wrong” key.

You can make songs easier to sing by changing the key to fit with your vocal range. 

Do this by transposing chords or using a capo to find a key where your low notes are not “gravelly” and your voice doesn’t strain to sing the highest notes. It’s that simple. 🙂

Note: Fiddle tunes without singing are typically played in the original key. 

Warm Up Your Voice Before Singing

Nashville Number System

The Nashville Number System is a method of writing chords based on the scale degree from the root chord of a song. It’s a quick way to share a song’s chord progression.

Common Bluegrass Chord Progressions

One feature of bluegrass music is the simplicity of chord progressions, typically three or four chords. Different songs can share the same chord progressions (PDF).

Going to Your First Bluegrass Jam


It happens. You have practiced a song; nailed the vocals; perfected the chord changes; but it all fell apart at the jam. This is a bluegrass jam, not a performance. It’s ok.

Bluegrass Jam Etiquette

Pete Wernick from the prominent bluegrass band “Hot Rize” created a very successful jam camp model used at many festivals. Here is his bluegrass jam etiquette.

Other Useful Stuff


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Jam Photos

Imperial LTVA 2023