Thursday, September 28, 2023

Monthly Folk Jam Sessions at Watermen’s Museum Brings Music Lovers Together

The Watermen’s Museum hosts a monthly folk jam session where musicians and singers gather in a circle and share music. (WYDaily/Courtesy of Watermen’s Museum)

YORKTOWN  — There’s a place where music lovers can gather to sing, play instruments and celebrate together. 

The York River Floating Folk Jam is a community program hosted by the Watermen’s Museum house band, ShantyGrass. 

The monthly jam session is a tradition that began in the fall of 2009 and has been held every month at the Watermen’s Museum since. 

The program was even held virtually during COVID-19. 

“We have not missed a month in 12 years,” said Museum Director of Education Michael Steen.

Typically held on the second Wednesday of each month from 5:30 to 9 p.m., the folk jam is a Celtic Bardic Circle in concept. 

Everyone sits in a circle and the music goes around. At each person’s turn, they can choose to sing a solo or to lead a song from the song books that the museum keeps on hand. 

Musicians can also request a song from the crowd or randomly draw from a cup of song titles.

“The only rule is you cannot pass your turn,” Steen said. 

The sessions are led by ShantyGrass, who play a mix of sea shanties, bluegrass and traditional and modern folk music. 

Most of the sessions are “no-repeat” and include traditional Celtic music, sea shanties, folk songs, western, bluegrass, Americana and original music. 

The sessions are led by Watermen’s Museum’s house band ShantyGrass. (WYDaily/Courtesy of Watermen’s Museum)

The sessions are free and family-friendly. All instruments and voices are welcome.

The program is potluck-style, so museum members and guests are encouraged to bring food and snacks to share.

The folk jam is a build-up for a big public event, the Yorktown Folk Festival, which will be held September 25-26 this year. 

The sessions are meant to be inclusive and fun for all, whether attendees sing or just hum along.

“The idea is that music is a cultural tradition we all share,” Steen said. “The museum uses music and the arts in all of the educational programs and events as a means of teaching using relative cultural experiences.”

While most sessions are the second Wednesday of every month, this month’s folk jam session has been rescheduled to July 21 at 5:30 p.m. 

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