Jam Recipe

Start with
at least two.
Three or four are fine,
and more, well, we don’t
turn away any contribution.
Jam is always better
when the making is shared.
Banjo, mandolin, guitar.
We need the rhythm, the unique flavors
of their strings and wood bodies.
One bass will do.
Or two if two will.
Always an autoharp. and sometimes
a harmonica or spoons or bones.
“Good enough for old time!” my friend John would say.
The trombone? He plays good rhythm
and toots discreetly towards the floor
reveling in our shared music-making.
Sometimes a clogger dances,
providing rhythm and joy with her feet and, later,
a story  about a musical trip to Dublin  during The Troubles,
complete with a whispered bomb threat
at a pub where her dancing ensured safety.
Did I mention the tunes?
Old time, from West Virginia, North Carolina and Kentucky.
And sometimes not-so-old-time
from Chicago or Nashville or Quebec.
Their names remind us of stories:
Greasy Coat, Abe’s Retreat, Sadie at the Back Door,
Soldier’s Joy, Pays de Haut, Arkansas Traveler,
Cat Scratching A Pear Tree in Grandma’s Backyard.
I might have made up that last one
long ago when I could not remember
the tune I really wanted to start.


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