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Jan 31, 2023 - 9:31 AM
503 posts since 10/21/2009


What small-medium sized bluegrass festivals do you recommend specifically for jamming so you can work on your chops?

I’ve been to several festivals in the last couple years where there isn’t even jamming going on, so thought I’d put the question up here.

I also just posted inquiring about non-festival jamming get togethers, so this one is specifically for jamming at festivals.

Thank you, and I appreciate your input.


Jan 31, 2023 - 10:17:37 AM
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2118 posts since 8/30/2012

My advice is to look locally, or regionally. Colorado has a great bluegrass scene. Most of the festivals that fit what you're looking for are not likely to have a large national audience. Most festivals, once they get to a certain size, begin to attract fans that are more interested in listening or partying than they are playing. Look for bluegrass players associations and see if they put on festivals. Look for "musicians festivals" rather than "music festivals". Look beyond the lineup and see if they actually have side events that promote playing music rather than just consuming it. Look beyond music festivals entirely, and research the various banjo and bluegrass camps that occur in the summer. 

I could give you lots of recommendations, if you're interested in travelling to Wisconsin or Michigan. Hiawatha, Sugar Maple, Aura Jamboree. There's lots of no-name "flyer festivals" that basically take place at the end of a two-track out in the woods. Don't know much about Colorado festivals other than the Telluride entanglements.

Edited by - KCJones on 01/31/2023 10:18:30

Jan 31, 2023 - 10:48:03 AM



503 posts since 10/21/2009

Some good tips I’ll try.
I have looked locally and regionally, and will continue to dig in more; often they are “line-up focused,” which is fine but not what I'm looking for here, rather than “jamming focused.” Or partying focused, as you said. I think I probably know all of those here in CO.  I like to go to the line-up focused festivals too!!  
The local BG society puts on concerts, not festivals.
There is Rockygrass and Telluride here, larger ones, as well as some other larger ones. Having spawned several nationally-known progressive bluegrass/rock/string bands, CO seems to have a reputation for having a “great bluegrass scene,” but for more classic bluegrass, I’d say (with the exception of some of the lineup at Rockygrass and Telluride), we’re often a flyover state for name bands.
It’s the “flyer” festivals for mostly classic bluegrass and some Old Time, with or without a name, at least, where players like to be, for which I’d really like recommendations for, and yes, willing to road trip.  How do you connect with the no-name flyer festivals you're referring to?  Internet searches as you said, or mostly by being where the flyer hapoens to be, or personal websites or FB?
I have done A Lot of internet searches over time, so you know, but locals know more, and whether it’s actually called a “festival” or get together or whatever it's called, locals know when and where, and what happens there.

Thank you,


Edited by - rockyjo on 01/31/2023 10:56:14

Jan 31, 2023 - 12:02:11 PM



2601 posts since 11/3/2016

I think there is a lot to be said about jams whether they are there for a party , to learn for the newbys , or to be honing their sound with a fine sounding group which in that case they ususally don't want or need any accompaniment .
It's always enjoyable to find a jam that YOU fit in &/or are welcome .
It's kinda been my opinion that usually one jam only needs one banjo player w/ hopefully some talent --- selfish ? --- maybe .
When a non respectful jammer blasts into a jam that is far beyond their playing it can be a large annoyance to everyone & a blatant show of arrogance .

I guess what I'm trying to say is there is etiquette to consider in joining a jam .

Jan 31, 2023 - 12:30:31 PM



503 posts since 10/21/2009

Yes, always good fit, welcomeness, and etiquette to appreciate, but first you have to find which full-fledged, bluegrass festivals with a pro band lineup, also have a lot of jamming, preferably with a variety of playing levels so you can find where you fit. And preferably without the overall festival being “huge.”

The most recent, albeit small, full-fledged bluegrass festivals I’ve been to have zero jamming.


Jan 31, 2023 - 1:31:46 PM
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185 posts since 1/30/2007

There is always plenty of jamming here in the Denver area. Go to the Colorado Bluegrass Music Society website and you’ll find a jam listing by week night in many locations. Also coming up Feb. 17th-19th is the long running Midwinter Bluegrass festival. It is held at the Marriott hotel at I-25 and 120th in Northglenn. Although there will be national acts you will find plenty of jamming throughout the hotel and especially in the large and open main lobby area. It is a good place to meet folks of similar interest and level of expertise. People here are usually very welcoming and encouraging. Good luck.

Jan 31, 2023 - 2:24:04 PM

80 posts since 11/30/2021

If you're in CO you're not too far from where I'm at in Santa Fe NM. Our yearly bluegrass/ traditional music festival is held every year around August. If you look it up it will be called "Tradfest". The festival is three days, and occasionally we get a really high caliber pro act mixed in with the local acts, all of which are usually great. Two years ago Alan Munde performed. There is a covered area which is designated for jamming and there are scheduled jams on Saturday and Sunday for bluegrass, old-time, and an anything goes jam. Usually the jams consist of 20 to 30 people but participation varies from year to year. Smaller jams sometimes do form outside of the designated area, you just have to be willing to walk up and ask to join. It's very small, especially compared to festivals in more populated areas, but it's pretty jam friendly in my experience.

Happy picking

Jan 31, 2023 - 3:44:05 PM

148 posts since 7/24/2009

Midwinter is coming up soon. Total jam fest.
Pagosa Springs
Pickin in the Pines is just pickers

Jan 31, 2023 - 3:58:01 PM

3072 posts since 4/5/2006

Colorado Bluegrass Music Society Once you get to know other bluegrass pickers, you can sometimes make arrangements for small jams on slow evenings, at local bars, bowling alleys, etc.

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