The Beacon News
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Continuing the long tradition of jamming
By Chris Erickson
A age-old tradition is keeping on in Mercer County for its fifteenth year this summer.
The Hazen Jam has started up again and the musicians who take part are doing what they do best: setting toes to tapping.
Ron Crowley has been an organizer of the event for a few years, after it got its start from Alice and the late Shirley Neuberger in May of ‘99.
“They jammed down in Arizona and decided to try it up here,” Crowley said. “People love music. There are not a lot of venues for them to go to be entertained.”
In general, the jam consists of anywhere between 20 and 30 players, with crowds ranging from a couple hundred to more than 750 people - however much space is available. Although there are a fair number of guitars present in the jam, Crowley noted that it’s not uncommon for some folks to join in with fiddles, piano, harmonicas or just sing along to a CD.
Depending on where you go to see a live jam, the rules may change on how the jammers operate. In Hazen the musicians play all of the songs together. If someone wants to take a break (solo) and pick a little it’s generally lined up before the jam, according to Crowley.
“The person at the mic takes the lead (plays the loudest) and the rest just jump in if they can,” he said. “When we started we thought maybe we would get five to 10 jammers and 25 to 50 people listening. We started in the small hall and outgrew that the first jam. As time went on more people heard about it and more came. We have had jammers from Canada (friends of Alice and Shirley) and they bring in a large crowd. We had 750 listeners one time when they were there.”