Jam Sessions: Join In And Make Some Music

Sir Benedict’s Tavern on the Lake is a place to hear the live music of Duluth. But if you’re here for a visit, you just might take the chance to join in yourself.

There are three main open jam nights at Sir Ben’s. Tuesdays are open mic nights. Wednesdays have the Bluegrass Jams and Thursdays feature the Celtic Jams. At all of them, anyone can join in and there are various skill levels. Like other open mics there is variety in what is performed.

“For open mic we will see it all from folk, rock, and piano,” said Kirdan Wenger at Sir Ben’s. “We see a lot of acoustic guitars. We have a guy who comes through and plays the accordion. We have some harmonicas. It is a good variety. Some people do rap or spoken word.”

Midweek Music at Sir Ben’s

sirbens

  • Tues.: Open Mic 9pm
  • Wed.: Bluegrass Jam 7pm
  • Thurs.: Celtic Jam 7pm
  • Sun.: Karaoke 9pm

Full music calendar.

banjoThe Bluegrass Jams and Celtic Jams are more about a group effort. Here, groups of area and extended area musicians come together and play as a team. The format of both nights is the same. The musical styles are somewhat different.

The Bluegrass jam usually features acoustic guitars, mandolins, fiddles, and the occasional dobro. The Celtic Jam primarily features guitar, fiddles, and Celtic drums. At both jams the music is partially planned and partially spontaneous.

“They usually start at 7 PM and they usually play about 3 hours,” said Kirdan. “It is come who will or come who wants to. They take up a table and pass around some sounds that they want to play. There is not a lot of format to it.”

fiddleLike most things, some will more often end up leading the group. Often, these are those who have been coming weekly for the 30 or so years the two jams have been going on. These veterans have had the time to hone their crafts and build up their repertoire. This longtime local musical tradition goes both ways; many in the audience have also been showing up year after year.

The audience and the players are all one community. Those who are young physically or and/or young musically are welcomed to the table.

“It’s been a cool thing watching a lot of kids who are learning to play. They will get dragged along by their parents and the group will welcome them right on in. It’s a great place for someone to learn and who is just picking it up,” said Kirdan.

Especially if you are a newer player, jamming in a group of 4 or five people takes the pressure off you. You can start slow and sprinkle a few more of your notes into the mix as time goes on. The jam session crowds are also low pressure.

During your stay at Beacon Pointe you might want to check out this unplanned organic Duluth musical experience. You can bring your instrument along and proudly join these “knights of the sound table.” Or, you can sit with the locals, observing and enjoying this long tradition.

“You will also get the same folks who come in every week just to listen to it,” said Kirdan. “There is definitely involvement on both sides of it.”