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Jam Sessions In Celina

Article by Dick Ivey

Photography by Lydia Barclay

Originally published in Celina Lifestyle

Blue grass…mention it around here and some will quickly relate it to Kentucky basketball and whether Coach Cal can get to March Madness again next year, or the Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs on the first Saturday in May, or Keeneland race track in Lexington. 

For others of us, the words blue and grass come together as bluegrass and always mean music. Not just any music, mind you, but the genre which was birthed out of Kentucky and Tennessee and Appalachia in the 1940s, perhaps named after Bill Monroe and his Bluegrass Boys Band. Noteworthy among that band were names you’ll recognize like Lester Flatt and Earl Scruggs. The band was named for the blue grass of Monroe’s home state of Kentucky, and the moniker stuck to their brand of music. Bluegrass music melds elements of old time mountain music with square dances, fiddling, blues, gospel, and jazz.

Around here, bluegrass, the sweet sound of strings and voices emanating from the Ralph O’Dell Senior Center on the 1st, 3rd, and 5th Thursday evenings of each month from 6PM-9PM is a delightful step back in time. You will hear the acoustic string sounds of guitars, banjos, fiddles, stand up bass, mandolins, harmonica and occasionally a dobro being played at the jam sessions. Players come from as far away as Arlington, Lewisville, Sherman, Denton, Greenville, and even Oklahoma to the biweekly monthly jams. It is common for these bluegrass jams to attract anywhere from 10-20 players with one or more circles (6-10 players = a circle). There are no requirements other than it must be acoustic instruments, and all participants are welcome to jam.

The jam was started in Gunter by Danny Logan at Preston Trails Farm. It moved to the Celina square when the American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers [ASCAP] would not let them play where food was being sold without paying music fees. About that time, Dick Smith, Division Fire Chief of the Celina Fire Department, began helping with the jam. It was initially a moving road show - first to the Celina square, to Founders Park, to the Celina Senior Center on the square, and finally to the Ralph O’Dell Senior Center. The senior centers were great choices because inclement weather was no longer a factor. Check it out on Facebook@CelinaTXbluegrassjam

In a bluegrass jam, members go around the circle taking turns leading their choice of song. The song leader will choose individuals (usually going around the circle) to take an instrumental “break” on the verse or chorus. The person taking the break will play the melody while the other musicians provide accompaniment. When the tune is familiar, everyone joins in to sing the chorus and provide harmonies. Attend one of these jam sessions and you will get hooked.  

Bluegrass music has a strong presence in North Texas. Dick Smith is in a band called The Foggy Memory Boys. Southwest Bluegrass Club, which meets in Grapevine at First Baptist Church (184 E. Wall Street) the 2nd Saturday each month, may have as many as 7 circles of 6-10 jammers playing.  A well-attended jam occurs on the 4th Saturday in Van Alstyne, and a bluegrass gospel jam has started in Aubrey meeting on the 3rd Saturday of each month. There are many jams in the DFW area, but it is nice Celina has its own.

Grab your favorite comfort food and come early. It is a memorable experience. You will hear this diverse group play and sing folk tunes and gospel songs. It’s a free fun evening with like-minded folks.

Y’all come now, ya hear!

Thank you Dick Ivey, a local Celina resident, for your editorial submission.  If you have an editorial for consideration, please submit to