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Welcome to the information page for the Rambling Bluegrass Jam Session.  A bunch of us got together back in November of 1998 and started a Bluegrass jam session on the West side of Portland Oregon because:
We've been going on pretty much continuously every Monday night all year 'round ever since.

We Ramble around a bit:

We've had to ramble a couple of times over the years.  Situations change at venues, and eventually they become no longer suitable for a Bluegrass jam session.  Some people were dismayed when they showed up at an old jam venue after a long drive to find no one there.  We completely lost track of others who attended only occasionally and didn't hear when we moved.  It got so that we came up with the name "Rambling Bluegrass" in jest and put together this web site to allow pickers to know where we are.  Our current location is as follows:

Current Location (confirmed 3-31-2006)

Papa's Pizza Parlor
15700 N.W. Blueridge Drive
Beaverton, OR 97006

Time: 6:00 PM - 10:00 PM Every Monday night all rear 'round.

Papa's Pizza Parlor has a couple of separate rooms.  Most of the time we play in the room that's straight ahead and slightly to the right as you enter.  The room has windows to the rest of the place, so you'll see us.  On very rare occasions we are in a different room (usually the "Wizard" room to the right as you go in the doors) due to some other large group being scheduled..  If in doubt, look for the "Bluegrass Jam" sign that the restaurant puts up or ask at the counter.

Papa's serves pizza by the pie (including a "personal" size), sandwiches, salad bar, soft drinks, and a couple of varieties of beer on tap.  The place is clean, well-lit, and suitable for families (they even have a large separate play-room for the kids).  The place is entirely non-smoking (hooray!).

We encourage jammers to buy the restaurant's food and drink since we hope to have them continue to reserve a room for us at no charge.  The restaurant does not solicit tips, since the format is "order at the counter".  However, they will accept tips and divide them among the workers.  You can leave a tip with one of the clerks or managers behind the counter.

Here's a map and some directions .

What to expect

We're more or less "intermediate" skill level.  We try to make all skill levels welcome.  Everyone is encouraged to lead songs or choose songs, but no one is required to do so.  To make sure everyone gets a chance, we usually take turns around the circle.  Some people always pass when it's their turn, but most people will lead a song at least some of the time.  We get beginners who have only been playing for a few months.  They usually find the music challenging at first, but the other pickers are supportive and the beginners usually don't stay beginners very long.  We also get seasoned experts that have been playing for years.  They usually have a fun time once they figure out what speed to play so that people can keep up.

Everyone is encouraged to "take a break" (play a solo), but some people very rarely do and that's fine, too.

We try to keep the jam centered around a strong bluegrass emphasis, but we enjoy the occasional excursion around the fringes.

Our favorites are singing tunes with good opportunities for harmony singing.  We do mostly singing tunes with a smattering of instrumentals thrown in.  People who will lead tunes and take breaks on anything are very much appreciated.  People who just want to play along are quite welcome as well.  However at times when the jam gets big we appreciate if the play-along people sit or stand in an outer circle to let the harmony singers get close together for a better voice blend.

There aren't any hard and fast rules other than perhaps "be nice to other people".  If you want more suggestions on etiquette that makes a jam go smoothly, check out The Rambling Bluegrass Jam Etiquette page .

Contact Information

This web site is put together and maintained by Paul .  If you need to contact me about this jam session or the web site, the preferred method is by electronic mail to "rambling {at} ramblingbluegrass {dot} org".  If it's a dire emergency, you may be able to reach me during weekdays at (503) 264-8488.

Occasionally we need to send out e-mail to announce an unexpected closing of the venue due to weather or some such thing.  If you're a " regular " and you want to get such announcements by e-mail, please send me e-mail requesting to be put on the list.  I don't necessarily recognize e-mail names or even know people's last names, so please make sure you remind me who you are in the body of your e-mail address.  I'm careful to send out any multiple e-mails by "blind carbon copy" so that your e-mail address is not visible to others.  I don't give out e-mail addresses, however, if someone can convince me they have a reason to contact you by e-mail I may forward their e-mail message to you so that you may decide whether or not you want to contact them.

How did we get here

Brief Summary:
For some more detailed history probably of little interest except to "regulars", check out the Rambling Bluegrass History page .

Who's Who

For information about The Regulars (at least the ones who are willing to admit who they are) check the Who's Who page .

Latest News 12-01-2005

We held a memorial jam for Jim Rooks on Saturday November 19 at the Frog Pond Grange Hall.  Follow this link for more details.

News 10-23-2005

On Friday October 21, 2005, we were shocked and saddened to learn that Jim Rooks died suddenly of an Aortal Aneurism earlier that same morning.  Jim was a long-time steady attendee at the Rambling Bluegrass jam session.  We will miss him very much.  Over the next few weeks we will accept text and pictures for a page dedicated to the memory of Jim Rooks.  Jim is also the one in the center in the photo at the top of this page.

News 3-13-2005

Happy Birthday to Bruce Guitar!  Try playing some breaks on the Happy Birthday song someday.  Some ways it's harder than you might think.

News 6-21-2004

In what could have been the immortal words of Bob Dylan:

We played some tunes, we had no fights, this week I had a pen that writes
We snarfed our pizza in a couple of bites, you ain't goin' no where.

This week it was much easier to keep track of who led what song, because my pen actually had ink in it.  I didn't have to press real hard to dent the paper enough to decipher it later on.  Now if only I could learn to write legibly while wearing banjo picks...

And this week we have Keys, too:

PaulBanjo: (A) Little cablin home on the hill (always a good starter-upper for me.  so what if the jam is getting tired of it.
HowardGuitar: (G) Wildwood flower (as an instrumental)
JaneBanjo: (A) Cripple Creek.  (Gotta learn the rest of the words to this one so I can sing it.  How come nobody sings this.  It's actually a fun song.)
JimGuitar: (G) Someday we'll sweat again meatheart (Hey, I'm just reporting this stuff, and that's what he called it.  During the song it sounded more like Someday we'll meet again sweetheart.
RichGuitar: (G) Wabash cannonball.  (Ok, one more comment and then I'll shut up:  One of the verses goes "Here's to Daddy Claxton, may his name forever stand" and so forth.  So, who the heck is Daddy Claxton?  I don't think his name managed to stand forever.)
KathleenMando: (A) Little Annie
JaneBanjo: (A) Clinch mountain backstep
BruceGuitar: (A) Charlie on the MTA (this key might have been a bit low)
BryanMando: (C) Billy in the lowground
RickBanjo: (G) John Hardy (as an instrumental)
RichGuitar: (C) Waltz across Texas

Ok, another comment from the peanut gallery:  I still want somebody to learn the extra verse that talks about how the singer's ex-friend Walter ran off with with the singer's girlfriend and moved to the other side of the state and now "Walt's across Texas with you in his arms...".  We now return you to your regularly scheduled jam blog.

PaulBanjo: (D) Dim lights, thick smoke and LOUD LOUD MUSIC.  The key of D is too low for me on this song.  Hmmm, should we raise it all the way up past the no-man's land of E and F to (gasp) G?
JimGuitar: (G) A hundred years from now
KathleenMando: (D) Going to the west
JaneBanjo: (D) I saw the light
BruceGuitar: (G) Bury me beneath the willow
LouieHarmonica: (G) Midnight Special (with Bruce as designated singer)
RickBanjo: (C) Home sweet home (with full drop-C tuning, and stuff like that, and other phenomenon)
RichGuitar: (B) Dark as a dungeon
PaulBanjo: (D) Blue birds are singing for me (I still want to have the Bass intro by Hans)
JimGuitar: (A) Who will sing for me (just about everybody, as it turns out.  This tune is one of the RamblingBluegrass hits)
KathleenMando: (C) Blue ridge mountain blues
HowardGuitar: (C) You are my sunshine
JaneBanjo: (C) Aragon mill (complete with train whistle.  Hey, I just report this stuff, I don't endorse it.)
LouieHarmonica: (G) When the saints go marching in (eventually transitioning to "when the saints go warp-speed in")
RickBanjo: (G) Ground speed

Ok, why is this song called "Ground Speed"?  Does it have anything to do with Earl Scruggs flying airplanes?  Or crashing them?  Will we find out next week?  Will the rest of us play it better next time?

RichGuitar: (G) Long black veil (and the night winds did indeed wail)
PaulBanjo: (A) Catfish john
JaneBanjo: (E) High atmosphere
LouieHarmonica: (G) Desperado

As it turns out, one of our "background pickers" this week, Mike, knew some of the words, sang it, and turned out to have a good singing voice.  So we coaxed him into sifting through Rich's songbook and singing another one later on.  You just never know what will happen at the Rambling Bluegrass jam.

KathleenMando: (A) Hard times come again no more
MikeGuitar: (D) Bobbie McGee
RichGuitar: (A) Engineers don't wave from the trains any more
PaulBanjo: (D) Jambalaya
JimGuitar: (G) Journey's end
BruceGuitar: (E) Abolene (There are two mystery chords:  A 3 chord (B-flat in the key of E) and a 2 chord (F-sharp in the key of E))
LouieHarmonica: (G) Roll in my sweet baby's arms
KathleenMando: (C) Are you missing me (complete with double-time chorus on the last verse)
PaulBanjo: (G) The rose
RichGuitar: (D) November rain

Oh, and in non-musical news:  KathleenMando brought a Tiramisu cake, and served it about mid-way through the jam.  It was delicious, and everybody picked faster after their big sugar hit.  A good time was had by all.

News 6-14-2004

Ok, if you have been patient enough to watch this web site over the course of the last year, you have noticed that it has not been updated much.  The web-master has been spending all his time picking and not updating the web site.  I also did a computer switchover, and I've had trouble facing up to the task of setting up the new one to manage the web site.  But, we're baaaaaaack!

We've had lots of new people come into the jam over the last year.  I need to update the  Who's Who page with the new set of regulars.  You'll  see a couple of news one there: Rich Guitar.  Actually, Rich is an old friend from the Roadhouse days who has been traveling abroad for a while and is now back where he belongs, picking bluegrass.  Rick Banjo has also been attending fairly often over the last few months, and is keeping the rest of us banjo players interested with all those nifty up-the-neck licks he keeps throwing in.  There are some other new regulars as well.  I'm trying to collect some good photos over the next few weeks to put up on the web site.  So show up and look photogenic.

I'm trying a new experiment this week.  I took notes on who led which song, to give readers an idea of what kind of music we do.  I arrived a few minutes late and the music had already started, so I missed a couple at the beginning.  Also, much to the amusement of Rich Bass, my pen ran out of ink right at the beginning of the evening, so I had to press real hard to try to dent the paper enough so I could read it later.

Rich: Every time it snows
Jane: Red Wing (any faster and I won't be able to keep up any more)
Rick: Home Sweet Home (see? not all banjo tunes are weird)
Paul: I'll Fly Away
Rich: Catfish John (and Jane nailed the harmony this time)
Debbie: If I Lose

Debbie Bass and Paul Mando have been taking a break from stargazing to come to our jam for the last couple of weeks.  We hope to see lots more of them.

Debbie Bass    Paul Mando

Paul: Whiskey Before Breakfast (I met an eight-year-old mando player at a festival who called this Root Beer Before Breakfast)
Paul: Ninety-Nine Years (and one dark day) (any higher and we'll need a taller ceiling)
Rich: Pass Me Not (a new hit.  a couple more weeks and we'll get the harmony down)
Howard: Will the circle be unbroken
Jane: Till the answer comes
Rick: John Hardy (with one of the great lines in all of bluegrass: "they're gonna let John Hardy swing now")
Debbie: I hope you have learned
Louie: This Land Is Your Land

Louie has been coming for the last couple of weeks and playing an extremely lively harmonica, and is turning into a great song leader.  He'll also take a break on most songs, but if you want him to take a break you have to cue him verbally, because he's blind.

Rich and Louie

Paul: Bluegrass Stomp (Bill Monroe gets down and funky)
Paul: A little further in the hole (financial-themed song)
Rich: When my blue moon turns to gold again
Jane: Santa Claus (named after a town in Texas?  An extra 5 chord to the person who supplies the answer)
Louie: Roll in my sweet baby's arms
Debbie: Forever ain't no trouble now
Rick: Flint hill special (yep, with tuners and all)
Liz: Soldier's Joy
Paul: Steel rails
Wendel: I am a pilgrim
Rich: Paradise
Rick: Old joe clark
Howard: You are my sunshine
Jane: I saw the light
Louie: Cotton fields
Debbie: Somehow tonight
Rick: Boil them cabbage down
Liz: Red haired boy
Paul: Sweet little miss blue eyes
Kathleen: I wonder where you are tonight (Paul snuck in and stole the "laundry" verse)
Wendel: Sitting alone in the moonlight (for some reason half of the jam started playing Dobro on this number, whether they had a Dobro or not)
Rich: Pack up your sorrows
Rick: John Hardy (wait a minute, didn't he do this same song earlier?)
Louie: When the saints go marching in
Paul: Clinch mountain backstep
Liz: Liberty
Rich: Cottonwood waltz


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