Red, White and Bluegrass
John Tester said it only takes one jam session to get you
hooked on the Red, White and Bluegrass music series of Boone.
“If you love bluegrass and good quality entertainment, all you have to do is come one time, and I guarantee you will come back,” said Tester, an organizer and longtime supporter of the series.
After bouncing around from venue to venue, including several hotel conference rooms that Tester said have been more than accommodating, the series has found a home at the Appalachian Meeting Hall.
“We’ve been blessed, and I mean very blessed,” Tester said. “We’ve been looking for years for a place we could meet to pick and have fellowship and enjoy good ol’ bluegrass.”
The series began as a lose gathering of friends and old-fashioned music lovers, who simply enjoyed quality music and sharing skills and techniques with fellow players. “For years, we just operated an open jam and invited everyone in,” Tester said.
What makes the series so unique is every night brings something new.
“You never know what kind of great talent is going to come through that door,” Tester said. “We had a group from Branson, Mo., called “Southern Raised,” that (was) in town, just heard about the jam and came walking through the door.”
Tester said the jam series’ new home is a perfect fit. Bands now have a much larger performing area and better lighting, and the average attendance for each show has swelled to 200.
“It’s really complementary of the jam,” Tester said of the venue and series. “The music goes without saying. You will hear the best quality bluegrass you will hear anywhere in the country. I’m allowed and privileged to be able to play the guitar and sing a little bit and enjoy their skills.”
Aside from celebrating the heritage and tradition of bluegrass music , which Tester called a national treasure, he also said the series is about as American as you can get.
“We opened our jam every event with a pledge, and some of the folks wanted us to put a flag up, and it has gradually evolved into a very patriotic open event that people can celebrate,” Tester said.
Along with a stellar set list, the series also hosts a house band that Tester said will “back anyone who comes through the door.”
Aspiring players and young musicians are also encouraged to come on stage. “People love to see the kids come up and perform,” Tester said.
The series runs April through November, and musicians take to the stage on the first and third Tuesdays of every month, from 7 to 10 p.m.
“I have a little secret, too,” Tester confessed. “The last 45 minutes of each jam are the best, because these guys are just wide open, and they really put their heart into it.”
Admission is to each jam is free, but a suggested donation of $4 is greatly appreciated. “We operate strictly on bucket money, and we try to compensate the house band as best as we can,” Tester said.
The Appalachian Meeting Hall is located at 141 Leigh Lane, just off Church Road, in Foscoe.
For more information, visit http://www.facebook.com/rwbj.boone.nc.