J.A.M. Sessions began in 2008 at the John Anson Ford Amphitheatre. The idea is that these events are both free and participatory. The Ford’s summer series is put on by the Los Angeles County Arts Commission, which has an entire program called “Free Concerts in Public Sites.”
These free concerts have expanded in the last 5 years and now there are free J.A.M. Sessions in 5 locations throughout the county, from Newhall to Watts.
On the steps of the venue was a jam session lead by Ben Guzman of Triple Chicken Foot, and on the stage of the Egyptian influenced deco stage was a square dance called by Susan Michaels. Though the 1200 seats were mostly empty, there were over 50 dancers hooping and hollering around the 93-year-old theatre’s stage.
For more about J.A.M. Sessions check here: http://www.fordtheatres.org/en/events/category/id/37
In Thomas Turino’s book, Music as Social Life, he draws a distinction between old-time music in rural communities and old-time music among middle classes as a cultural cohort. “…I am not suggesting that one is more authentic than the other,” Turino writes. “The styles, practices, and values in both types of settings can be dicent articulations of the distinct cultural positions of participants and thus equally authentic.”
At the Topanga Banjo Fiddle Contest, one can expect pick-up jams beneath California Black Oaks to play covers ranging from “Hey Jude” to Hammons family tunes. One can expect to peruse a craft bazaar through the set of Dr. Quinn Medicine Woman and to square dance in a barn so hot that strangers readily agree upon the nickname, “Bikram Square Dancing.” Yes, this festival celebrates Appalachian Mountain music in the Santa Monica Mountains with Angelino authenticity.
For more information, check here: http://www.topangabanjofiddle.org/index.html