Killarney’s South Western Manitoba Jam closes its doors.
At the last Coffee House Jam on October 11th Arvid Dalzell announced that the South-West Manitoba Jam, held in Killarney Manitoba will cease to operate, due to poor attendance from the local area. This is very disheartening news, not only because every jam is an opportunity for musicians to get together and play music, but also because it shows another town simply would not support it’s own jam.
I would like to take this moment to say something about jams in general and the Westman Jam in specific. Jams are a great boon for small towns and cities, especially retirement towns. They are, not only, a central location for local musicians to experience the pleasure of playing with other musicians and for audiences to hear free and local music, but they are a great social activity as well. Retirement towns, need these social gatherings to get retirees to leave the confines of their home and get out to visit with their friends and neighbors.
A lot of times, after someone leaves the work place, he or she starts to loose interest in doing anything. This is especially true for those who have lost a husband or wife or is suffering from health issues. It suddenly becomes easier to simple settle down on the couch and watch T.V. and simply avoid the outside world. This is very unhealthy for not only the body, but the mind as well. Even prodding from concerned family members, often, has only limited effect in trying to get these folks to get out and visit friends and neighbors. What is needed is a fun and interesting activity for retirees to enjoy or even participate in. This is something that jams can be very helpful with. It’s a whole lot easier to nudge folks into going out to see a jam than just getting them to take a walk or visit friends.
In part, a jam is a service to a town and, I believe, every town should have one on a fairly regular basis. If you keep your elders healthy in body, mind and spirit, they will be able to stay in their homes longer, maintain their independence, and continue to pay their taxes, thus remaining a supporter of their town instead of becoming a burden on the economy of the town. Nobody wants to end up in hospital or health care center any sooner that they have to so if a jam, now and then, can delay that outcome, surely that in itself justifies the town supporting such an event.
Here is the point of all of this. Killarney’s town did not make the effort to encourage it’s jam, even as they had one to support. The town couldn’t be bothered to offer a free venue to hold it in, the town’s people could not be bothered to come out to experience and support the event and the local musicians didn’t participate in any numbers to help make it work as a jam. In other words, there wasn’t enough interest on anybody’s part to make it a going proposition. That’s just sad because I know that a lot of good things can come out of a regular jam. Arvid and the other folks, who put on the South-West Jam, did a bang up job organizing it getting it running but in the end it takes interest from the locals folks to keep these things going. Without the local support, a jam is bound to fade out.
Before you Westman Jammers shake your head and waggle your fingers keep this in mind! This can happen to our jam too. All it takes is for the locals to lose interest in it or forget what it does for the community and pretty soon there won’t be anybody coming to our jams either. Too few musicians and audience members and we’ll have to close our doors to. Remember this, we didn’t create the concept of an open mic jam. There have been lots of jams before ours, even in this area. Where are they now? Gone. Why? Because folks lost interest in them. Just because we’re big, don’t delude yourself into thinking that this thing will maintain it self. We must all ways promote the jam and encourage new folks to join us, both as audience members and participants in the music. I have always said that we ought to broaden our base by encouraging folks of other musical traditions to participate and why not poets as well? Maybe folks could bring some of their own art work to display also. Why not? The broader the appeal the stronger the support base.
Well, these are just some ideas, but don’t just look to me to come up with new ideas. I’m sure a few have crossed your mind as well. Speak up. Share your ideas with the group. We need everybody. Westman Jams has always been supportive of all these local, small town jams because every musician, in the Provence, is precious.
Happy Birthday WESTMAN JAMS!
My how time goes by. I did a little calculating and, do you know, this would be the fifteenth year of Westman Jams! It doesn’t seem all that long ago when I came through those hall doors, in Sprucewoods , and I was the new kid on the block. Like all new kids, I was caught in the conundrum of how to make friends among-st a close knit group of musicians that already knew each other. It was scary, to say the least, but I knew the rewards would make it all worthwhile.
It helped a lot that Reg Jones and his friends were determined to make every new member feel welcome and at home. When I was young, my dad’s family would get together and just plunk themselves down on the couch and start playing music. That’s how it was in those early days of the Jam. We talked about Bluegrass, but you could play anything you wanted. Everybody was eager to hear what you had to offer. There were no boarders. Folks played all kinds of music, old and new. You didn’t have to be a musician. We could supply the accompaniment to your voice. You didn’t have to sing. An instrumental was always welcome. Yes those where the days. A lot of things have changed since then.
Westman Jams is a perfect example of organic evolution. We developed new traits but we, naturally, kept the best of the old ones because they served us well. These days, when a new musician or singer enters the hall, we are all eager to get acquainted and welcome him or her to our fold. Every new member of the jam adds a new dimension to the group. I think that my favorite part of the Jam is meeting our latest guests and finding out just what they are going to do when the music starts. A Jam is an exciting event to attend, especially when folks can just be themselves musically.
Many of the old guard are gone now and, somehow, we have lost touch with other founding members. It’s sad, when old friends just aren’t there anymore. We are all made less, with the absence of our old compatriots. These things can’t always be fixed but the new faces, coming through those doors help to fill the emotional void in our hearts and keep our passion for music burning brightly.
Fifteen years is a long time, unless your doing something, with them, that you truly love. Then they go by in a flash. I guess, if there is a message behind this it is that, nothing goes on forever. Certainly no garden flourishes unless you expend the thought and effort to take care of it. As the Westman Jams grow and mature, we must strive to retain those properties of acceptance and encouragement that have done so much to carry us this far so that, fifteen years from now, local amature musicians will have a similar opportunity to enjoy the fellowship of other musicians that they would otherwise never get to meet and sit down to play music with.
In this, our fifteenth year, I would like to congratulate all the folks who attend, participate, and help make happen, the Westman Jams. Great Job People! You’ve helped create and maintain a wonderful asset to your community. Let’s keep it going and growing. Your efforts have certainly NOT gone without being noticed. …Happy Birthday, Westman Jams!…
This greeting is brought to you from;
Elger Heath, A.K.A., the Chairman.
Elger Heath : (a.k.a. The Chairman)
For those of you who know the jams well… I am Elger Heath so this month I am featuring … well… me. Now I know what your thinking. That’s a pretty selfish thing to do, using a platform you edit to feature yourself! But I’m afraid that the only sample I was able to edit out of the last jam’s recordings that was clean enough to feature was my piece at the mic and this is, in the end, an audio feature. The point of these features is to give you folks an idea what you might hear at a jam and that would include me as well. Besides, sooner or later my number had to come up so I might as well get this over with early on.
My name is Elger Heath, and I am one of the singer / guitarists you’ll see at the jam on a regular basis. I say singer / guitarist, because if I have any talent at all it is with my voice. I learned to play guitar just to fill in the sound behind my singing. I have always been a singer, long before I learned to play guitar.
What Westman Jams has done for me:
Westman Jams has given me experience and challenges. I was a reasonable chord-er when I first came to the jam but what I lacked was people to play along side. I don’t come to a jam to stand up at a mic and show off my talents as a lead singer. What I REALLY enjoy is singing harmony with other singers and counter picking in the background. I’d sooner be the harmony then the lead. Harmony is where all the fun is at. You can’t do harmony all by your self. Westman Jams has given me musical friends to mix music with. That’s what is so great about a jam and it is what keeps me coming back every month. Also, it is fascinating, all of the character you meet at the jams and what they do and know. Where else could you encounter such a large crosscut of the amateur music scene in this province?
I set about to learn to pick guitar after I joined the jam. For those of you who think that I am a good guitar picker, know this. I never thought that I could ever learn to pick guitar when I was young. I played in public, mostly to act as rhythm guitarist for fiddle players. I never even thought I was capable of a lead instrumental. After a few months at the jam, I realized that we were very short of guitar pickers. There was Reg and a few others and that was all. I figured that if I practiced a few tunes at home, enough, I might be able to perform one or two tunes well enough to go before the mic. So that is what I did. Now I fill in some of the instrumental breaks for other singers, as well as for myself. I still wouldn’t say that I am good, but good enough to fill the gap, sure. And you could be as well. All you need to do is put in that extra practice at home.
I took over the Westman Jams website in mid 2015. Before that I often thought that what we ought to do with the website was include a little of this, add a little of that, feature some sound bites and more articles and videos, more tutorials and tips & tricks. I had all of these ideas but no clue if any of them where feasible of if they were even possible. I noticed that the web site had become inanimate. Nothing was being updated, except the calendar. Nobody was writing anything to post on it. It was as if we had let it die. I went to Wayne, who was the president of the council at the time, and asked if he’d be willing to let me take on the website, on a trial basis, to see if I could inject something into it. He agreed and thus I started editing the website. Now I didn’t know anything about editing or maintaining a website up to then so I had to learn fast, but it was quite an adventure. I had plenty of ideas, I just had to learn how to make turn them into reality online. This was the second gift that the Westman Jams gave to me. I found out that I love to work on websites. I NEVER would have found that out if not for the jams.
My point is that Westman Jams offers folks all kinds of potential opportunities to expand their horizons. All you have to do is grab the bull by the horns and who knows where you’ll end up. All I can tell you, for certain, is that the ride will be exciting.
At the Royal Canadian Legion Jam, in Brandon Manitoba on June 18’th 2017, I recorded this clip of me performing an instrumental. Here I am at the mic playing ‘Ashokan Farewell’. I hope that you enjoy it.
Welcome Pickers, Grinners, and Music Fans to Our Web Site!
We hope your visit will be enjoyable and informative. Check out our “Jam Talk” page and drop us a line or a comment or two. You won’t see your comments right away unless you have been pre-approved to do so. The site is periodically updated. Upon verifying your comments I will remove the spam filter so you can use it at will. The Events & Jams tabs are updated as often as we are notified of the various music venues taking place in Manitoba or Saskatchewan. This is a free service so keep us informed and we will be happy to post your event.
Our bottom line goal is to keep our local live music alive and well in our area. So c’mon out to Spruce Woods the last Sunday of each month and bring your music with you. We’d love to see ya…
Here’s a map to find your way to Sprucewoods, coming from Brandon Manitoba or the surrounding area. (Click on the map to enlarge it.)
Roots Music | Anything and everything that I can think of, dealing with music will be here if I can figure a way to put it on a web site.
Here’s a map so’s you can find your way around SpruceWoods. (Click on the map to enlarge it.) If you would like to join us in our jams or would just like more information call Wayne at (204) 834-2130 or any of the executive listed on the executive page under “Members”. ________________________________________________________________
DO YOU WANT A JAM IN YOUR TOWN??
It’s free and easy…
Here are the requirements: Westman Jams does not pay rent for the venue: i.e The hall/auditorium/ must be donated. There is NO charge for admission at the door. Westman Jams takes a silver collection Your town can put on a supper to raise money. Most of the Jammers will participate and buy a ticket. If you would like arrange a jam in your community call Wayne at (204) 834-2130 or any of the executive listed on the executive page under “Members”.
CANADIAN NORTHERN LIGHTS
The Canadian Northern Lights are a group of Motorhome enthusiasts from Manitoba, Saskatchewan, North Dakota, South Dakota and Minnesota that get together approximately once a month to enjoy fellowship and fun. On the weekend of May 26 to 29, 2016 we enjoyed the hospitality of Carberry, Manitoba.
Occasionally we enjoy live entertainment. It was arranged that a club called the Westman Jammers would try to bring together some members and play some old time music for us to enjoy. We ended up with 15 players, singers and family members that joined us for an evening of good music and dancing. They travelled from different parts of the province to get together. The music and dancing lasted a full two hours and it was apparent that they truly enjoyed what they were doing.
I would like to pass on a big thank you from the Canadian Northern Lights to Wayne and all the Westman Jammers that joined us that night to give us an evening of entertainment that will be remembered and talked about for some time to come.