RALEIGH, N.C. — Hundreds of people from across the country were in town this weekend for one of the biggest events of the year. The International Bluegrass Music Association festival brings fans and participants, from professional musicians to those picking up their first banjo.
“I used to come to these things when I didn’t know anything. Didn’t know how to tune it. I would come to these things and people would just help me. I was completely clueless” said Rick Silva, a banjo player who attended one of the festival’s jam sessions Friday morning.
He said he picked up a banjo for the first time as a joke when he moved to Wake Forest a few years ago, saying “wouldn’t it be a funny goof to learn how to play the banjo. For kicks, I bought the cheapest banjo on Amazon.”
Now, Silva picks it up regularly to play with other people. He’s one of about 50 who jammed the front porch of the Raleigh Convention Center. They started in a one-hour class learning the basics before moving to their jam circles.
“It’s not that hard, and our bar is low to join a jam circle. If they can play four basic chords, G, C, D and A, they can change chords, and keep the instrument in tune, they can jam” said Leslie Dare, one of the instructors.
Dare says jams like these are a reminder to come for the music, but to stay for the friends.
The event was held Friday and Saturday morning.