Second Saturday Contra Jam Sessions
HCD Contra Jam will return from
sabbatical on Nov 8, 2014!
Please plan to join us, and spread the
We must rebuild our contra jam email list,
which has become outdated. If you'd
like to be on the mailing list, please notify
Rob (please remove the "Z" from the
displayed email address).
Contra jam sessions are 6:00-7:30 pm the second
Saturday of each month, at the Griffith Academy
(formerly American Legion) hall, 275 Main Street, Old
Wethersfield, CT [map],
just before the second Saturday contra dance.
Note that there's no jam before any contra at West
Hartford Town Hall, nor before contras where the
jammers provide the evening's music (e.g., August).
Jam admission is free, but we appreciate contribution
toward the extra hall rental ($3-5 would be great)
The HCD contra jam
sessions provide a great opportunity for new and
experienced musicians to learn, play, and enjoy the
contra dance repertoire. We play a mixture of standard
contra tunes - mainly reels, jigs, and waltzes. Players
of all instruments are welcome (keyboard players should
bring their own instruments). The jam is most
appropriate for "intermediate" skill levels; we don't
play slowly, but we're not at full dance speed either.
We use an "around the circle" system to ensure that
everyone has a chance to pick tunes. We'll play
anything a jammer wants to play. We honor the tempo of
whoever selects the tune, even if others could play
can use sheet music or play by ear.
basic references are:
books are available from many places, including from
their authors, from CDSS,
and from the Button
for an old playlist.
to enter the Contra Jammers' private area (userid and
prior years, the jammers provided music for one or two
dances each year, e.g., the August contra in
Wethersfield, and the pre-Christmas in Branford.
The jammers have also stepped in to provide music for
other dances where a band has failed to show or has at
the last moment cancelled. We have not
scheduled the jammers to provide music for any of our
2014-15 season dances. We may resume jammer dances
in the future.
are some cell phone videos Peter Ohring took of the
December 2011 Jammer Dance in Branford:
Rules For Ensemble
- Everyone should play the same piece
- If you play a wrong note, flash a nasty look at
one of the other players
- The right note at the wrong time is a wrong note
(and vice versa)
- A wrong note played timidly is a wrong note; a
wrong note played with authority is an interpretation
- A wrong note played once is a wrong note; a wrong
note played twice is jazz
- If everyone gets lost except you, follow someone
who is lost
- If you are completely lost, stop and tune
- To win the admiration of sessiun players, strive
for the maximum NPS (note per second)
- If a passage is difficult, slow down; if it's
easy, speed it up - everything will even out in the
- When everyone else has finished playing, skip any
extra notes you have left over
Swing, with some alterations
information, please contact Rob at (860) 232 2504 or