About two years ago, with the pandemic raging, I came across a picture of an old yellow school bus. Nothing strange about the school bus really, but it had a stage built up in front of it, and it was parked in a field. My thoughts wandered off, thinking of the early days of bluegrass where I envisioned Bill Monroe & The Bluegrass Boys traveling from town to town and setting up a show In every new place they came to. I don’t know if that ever was the case, but in my mind that was the romanticized image I had of those early days.
With everything closed down and no live music anywhere, I dreamt of a time when the Covid restrictions would be lifted. A time when we could be on the road again, with joy, laughter, freedom and lots of jam sessions and music. How fun wouldn’t it be to have something like that old school bus and go around meeting loads of people that had been isolated from music and social life for such a long time! What a way to bring music to the people!
At this point I called Erik Moreau, the head of Grenna Bluegrass Festival, and we had one of our long talks. And somewhere, in that dialogue, the idea emerged to make a combined jam and workshop tour for those who where longing to play music and learn new stuff after a long period of bluegrass absence. Instead of doing shows, we reasoned that playing and learning together would be more fun. -We need a Jam Van, Erik suddenly said, and we both laughed in total agreement.
Said and done - two weeks later Erik called me with the opening line, - I bought a Jam Van today! A couple of weeks later the Jam Van was painted black by Erik and his sons, and they added the Grenna Bluegrass Festival logo as well!
So, now is the time it will happen. The Rookie Riot Jam Van Workshop Circus will hit the road the 12th of May. First heading towards Malmoe, then Jonkoping and Goteborg. There has been loads of planning how to do this, what songs to use in the workshop and in the jam. How to best explain the roles of the different instruments, and how to get that special bluegrass rhythm right. And the most difficult question of all - how many burgers do a bluegrass musician eat in one night?
So, if you see a big tent in your town, with colored lights and heaters, an old black Jam Van with a BBQ going outside, it´s probably us. And, make no mistake, there will be the sound of bluegrass too!
Eric and I know you can‘t go back in time, but for those who join our journey there just might be a feeling of reliving those first days of bluegrass.
Hope to see you on the road Anders Ternesten
Check out the circus: