BLUEGRASS JAMMING ESSENTIALS
BILL EVANS & MEGAN LYNCH FEATURING ADAM STEFFEY, DAVID THOMAS & TIM STAFFORD
AcuTab Video, P.O. Box 21061, Roanoke, VA 24018, www.acutab.com. Eight p. booklet, one DVD, 2 hrs. 30 min., $35.

What I like most about this DVD is what it’s not: a list of “rules” of jamming. Instead, Bill, Megan and the band present topics that cover the fundamentals of playing well with others: getting and staying in tune, listening, tempo, keys, repertoire, the role of each instrument, backup and fills, soloing, harmony singing, the number system, drive, song structure, communication and having fun. The last is important, otherwise what’s the point?

The band is made of some of the finest players in bluegrass: Megan Lynch on fiddle, Bill Evans on banjo, Tim Stafford on guitar, Adam Steffey, on mandolin and David Thomas on bass. Though the presentation starts a little stiff, they quickly relax and have fun while teaching some important fundamentals of bluegrass jamming. And at 2.5 hours, there’s a lot of information here as well as great playing and singing—well worth the price.

The teaching is geared toward those new to jamming, but even experienced players will benefit from hearing these pros discuss their playing. Bill and Megan have taught at many workshops and camps and their organization, experience and delivery really show. No one plays down to the viewer, but presents his or her best playing in a real jam situation. Each instrument is given equal time and the song choices are from the standard repertoire: “Nine Pound Hammer,” “Your Love Is Like A Flower,” “Sitting On Top Of The World,” “Gold Rush,” “Clinch Mt. Backstep,” “Soldier’s Joy,” “Don’t Lie To Me,” “Rambling Heart,” “My Rose Of Old Kentucky,” “Don’t Let Your Deal Go Down,” “Rebecca,” and “Knoxville Girl.” Included is a nice booklet with the chord structure of each song.

Highly recommended for those new to jamming, but thoughtful and well presented material for the more advanced player as well. CVS