by Kristi Tousignant, Staff Writer, July 10, 2011
Some old world tunes met new world capitalism Saturday as mandolin, banjo and accordion players jammed out at the Fenton Street Market in Silver Spring.
The Old Time Music Jam played on Veterans Plaza while shoppers browsed through booths of antiques and handmade jewelry.
Although there were just five jam musicians at the market Saturday, the group usually has about nine or 10 people playing and has had as many as 20 show up at once to pluck their strings or tap a drum. Saturday featured two mandolin players, a guitar, a banjo and an accordion. There usually are a few fiddlers and a bass player that often join in as well, said member John Bobkin of Silver Spring, who plays the mandolin.
“It’s really a social thing,” Bobkin said. “I get out of my house and hang out with friends. It keeps you getting together.”
The Old Time Music Jam is just one act in a series of artists playing at the Fenton Street Market this season. Organizers decided to include live music at the market to draw in more people, said Fenton Street Market founder Hannah McCann.
“We are very excited, because this is a community grassroots effort, which is what the Fenton Street Market is all about,” she said.
Around 60 vendors sell their wares every Saturday at the market, which McCann started in fall 2009. This season, the market is hosting about two to three music acts every Saturday, said Chantelle Stewart, who coordinates the entertainment.
“Live music brings all different types of people to the market,” Stewart said.
The music groups help draw in customers and further develop the community atmosphere the market seeks to create, McCann said.
“People stop and linger, and that is the other thing the market is all about,” McCann said. “It’s a community gathering spot.”
For Bobkin, though, it’s just about the fun. The Old Time Music Jam is casually organized, and anyone who shows up can sit and play. There are no practices, just performances in public.
“It keeps you learning and practicing,” said member Ryan Powell of Hyattsville, who plays accordion.
When musicians swing by and join the open music circle, they can either use the sheet music provided by the group or jump in and play by ear, Bobkin said.
“I think it’s just nice,” said member Kurt Bauman of Kensington, who plays banjo. “It keeps me practicing,”
The group was founded by players originally involved with Friends of Old Time Banjo, a jam group with members across the Washington, D.C., metro area.
Old Time music is a genre of American folk music with Celtic and Scottish origins. A lot of the time, children will gather around the group and dance, Bauman said.
“It’s really meant for dancing, and kids pick up on that right away,” Bauman said.
The Old Time Music Jam will be playing again at the Fenton Street Market on Aug. 20 and Oct. 9. The market is located at One Veterans Plaza and takes place 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturdays until early October.
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