Music on Main!
Several years ago I attended the Kansas Library Association’s annual conference in Kansas City. In addition to keynote speakers, the conference committee schedules numerous sessions to inform and inspire us. That year one the last sessions they held was about a way to bring music into your library. The Olathe Public Library sponsored the session and a couple of musicians entertained us with songs. The music as interspersed with the story of how the library’s jam session came to be. Musicians meet on a monthly basis in the library, and a mix of musicians take turns playing a song of their choosing.
Olathe Public Library is a much bigger library than ours, with a larger budget. I was enamored of the idea but concerned about the cost since they pay the musicians a small fee for performing. My other concern was finding enough musicians to make this work in our library. The next year when the conference was held in Wichita, the youth librarian from Atchison presented a similar program on a smaller scale. A musician herself, she performed in nearby St. Joe, and had many musician friends. She invited them to join her at the library to play, and soon the group grew. They enjoyed playing so much, that after playing from 6 to 8 p.m., they would take their instruments to a nearby cafe and play there until it closed for the night.
After absorbing her enthusiasm for her library’s success, I began thinking this might work here. It was to my delight that I came across Morgan Brown at the bank one day. We chatted for a while about my idea, and he shared the history of the jam sessions held in our very building. He told me he and his friends played in the former Brown’s Feed and Farm supply building we now inhabit. I asked if he thought they might enjoy getting together again and he told me he would round up some of his former musician friends and we could give it a try. Morgan told me when they had previously met and we set our date for the same night of the month and time. Music on Main! Jam Sessions were born.
At an early gathering, I discovered Mound City Library had been holding a jam session on the same night. I asked if those attending our jam sessions if they felt we should change dates, so as not to conflict. At that time, they wanted to keep to the routine. That was over a year ago, and our jam sessions have been a big success. Many of the musicians he knows participate in the sessions. Most have been playing for years, and know each other well. Others drop in and play with the regulars, watching carefully for chord changes and choosing a song they enjoy playing when their turn comes around. During the winter months, Mound City Library doesn’t hold their sessions, so the circle grows at ours. Age is no obstacles, as we have musicians of all ages join us. We’ve enjoyed the variety of musicians and songs they play, and appreciate all those who take the time to visit.
Several weeks ago the musicians decided to change the date of the jam sessions, to accommodate more venues. Now, our sessions will be held the first Thursday night of each month, while LaCygne Library’s will be held on the second, and Mound City Library’s on the third. Since distance is not a barrier to musicians who love to play together, we hope all three libraries will benefit from having music within their walls. As for us, we will continue to hold the sessions as long as the musicians want to play. Perhaps you can join us sometime. “Let the circle be unbroken.”
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