Jigarre Jammin’ – making music magic By Gwen Potter

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Jigarre Jammin’ is a musical phenomenon!

It’s a monthly gathering in northern Victoria that represents a dream for many hundreds of people who love to make their own music, where up to 70 musicians meet in the little township of Girgarre for up to 5 hours of playing, singing, sharing knowledge and catching up – and they love every minute of it.

Musos come from everywhere – Bendigo, Echuca, Rochester, Gunbower, Lockington, Shepparton, Kyabram, Cobram, Yea, Seymour, Wangaratta, Euroa, Yarrawonga and further afield.

They are all ages and at all stages. Many players are late starters, having waited for years to learn an instrument. Others played in their youth and now, with families grown and spare time available, are coming back to the fold with gusto. Still others have played most of their lives and generously share their expert skills. Everyone joins in with an enthusiasm and regularity that must be unique in country Victoria.

Coming together can be a life-saver for musicians in very small towns.

“It’s possible to feel you are totally alone in your area, the only one playing your instrument or the only one even interested in acoustic music,” says Jan Smith, who, along with Di Burgmann and a dedicated team, has been steering the development of Jigarre Jammin.’

“We see this all the time. We want to overcome this feeling of isolation. We also do all we can to encourage beginners, because you don’t want to hold yourself back when making music is so much fun.”

Instruments played by the musicians include guitar, banjo, mandolin, ukulele, violin, harmonica, and double bass. Styles of music include folk, country, blues, bluegrass, Celtic, gospel and pop.

Girgarre, a small dairying community located between Echuca and Shepparton with fewer than 200 residents, may be small in size but it has a huge reputation for self-help community achievement.

Jigarre Jammin’ was born about 6 years ago from the annual Girgarre Moosic Musters held there each January.

A core group of players wanted more frequent music sessions to keep them going month to month. A winning format was devised back then which is still followed –  in fact, it’s been expanded due to demand.

When and where:

The 4th Saturday of the month at the Girgarre Town Hall, Winter Rd, Girgarre (in recess December and January).

Format:

    10:30am: A Celtic jam for lovers of Irish and Scottish music
    11:30am: A jam for all the fans of Australian bush music
    12:30pm: BYO lunch in the supper room
    1:30pm: Jigarre Jammin’

Jigarre Jammin’ itself starts with a communal jam, with leaders introducing some new songs among the more familiar numbers. We make it really easy by putting both lyrics and chords up on a screen via a data projector. That way everyone can join in, no matter what their level of expertise.

This is followed by beginner workshops where tutors are available, a huge country-style afternoon tea, walk-ups for those who would like to perform, and finally an all-in jam finishing at 4pm.

If you don’t want/need a workshop, you can continue jamming or find a corner with other players and practise a song to perform. A number of musos have found kindred souls and formed bands of their own, large and small, from this process.

Want to try a totally different instrument? Use our free instrument bank –  guitars, mandos, ukes, even a banjo or two. Thanks to donations from instrument maker Fender and other friends, we have lots to offer.

The cost of all this fun is a mere $2 per person each month and a small plate for afternoon tea. There is no membership fee and no requirement to attend each month.

And there’s more – musical camp-overs!

Three years ago we began to hold weekend campovers twice a year around Jigarre Jammin”. Tents and caravans are located on the reserve next to Girgarre Town Hall, with music all weekend, happy hours, communal meals if you want, and everyone getting to know each other better.

It was Di Burgmann of Shepparton who came up with a great informal slogan for Jigarre Jammin’:  “Don’t die wishing you’d done it.”

Contact Irene Labbett on jigarrejammers@bigpond.com to receive the monthly newsletter about Jigarre Jammin.’  You can also contact media officer Gwen Potter on 0456 223 184; Di Burgmann on 0408 011 634; or Irene Labbett on 0429 149 246.

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