Willow Grove residents are treated to sounds they might not otherwise hear on the radio played by a revolving group of people who find joy and comfort in making music together.
On the second Saturday of each month, from 2- 4 p.m. in the Activities Room at the Willow Grove Retirement Center, can be heard the melodious and soaring sounds of gospel, bluegrass, old-time or Celtic music emanating from violins, cellos, banjos and a variety of other string instruments typically found in folk music.
Dubbed the Willow Grove Jam, the music is played by individuals from surrounding communities and from members of the Charlotte Folk Society. The “play-around” or “song circle” involves a tune or song amplified and ad-libbed by the various musicians. In turn, the residents and the public are treated to sounds they might not otherwise hear on the radio played by a revolving group of people who find joy and comfort in making music together.
“I do it mostly for the social aspect,” said current organizer, Alan Davis. “It’s a chance to play in a relaxed atmosphere…with a close personal relationship between the musician and the audience.”
On this day, Davis was joined by old-timer, guitarist, Charles Hill, 82, of Mint Hill, and guitarist Mark Lees, 69 of Charlotte. “This gives you a chance to keep your music up,” said Hill. “It helps people who can’t get to places like this.” To help him pick the next melody, Hill consults his ever-ready book of nearly 180 tunes complete with song names and music key.
And, while dexterity and excellence in musicianship are not a requirement, the occasional off-note or off-tuned instrument doesn’t matter in this venue. This is a jam for the ages – a chance to reflect on folk music - how it touches the soul and often heals both the listener and the musician all in one moment.
Willow Jam was first created by Bill Williams in 2009 – a lifelong folk music aficionado who would play with others, including Alan. Near the end of his life, his family moved him into Willow Grove; hence, the jam was born.
Although many members have passed on during the past ten years, in the end, it remains the shared love of folk music that keeps new members coming.
“For me, it gives me [the opportunity to try] different ideas for some songs or tunes I might want to try out on somebody,” Alan said.
For more information, contact Alan Davis: 704-499-3918 or firstname.lastname@example.org