The third drummer of the night was beating a beat, then keyboard and guitar joined the fray.
Then a trio of saxophones joined us, and it sounded something like… great.
The growing Charlie Dwellington crowd moved and danced, danced and smiled as the Tuesday Night Jam sent sweet sounds and vibes into the night.
As those sweet sounds floated in the breeze, the six musicians moved on to a new song and a new guitarist took the stage.
Without warming up or focusing, this gentleman plugged into an amp and joined the song as harmoniously as a slab on slate.
The three saxophones, two tenors and a baritone, brought a unique brass section sound to the jam that night.
Bill Moody – yes, from Moody’s Lounge in downtown Grand Junction – was one of those who played tenor sax.
Beginning in seventh grade, Moody always enjoyed playing the sax. And he loves playing Tuesday Night Jam.
“What makes the Jam fun and unique is that different players show up every week, so you get to know the local musicians,” he said. “You can play with guys that you might not otherwise be able to play with. It really is a fun experience.
As he is not currently in a band, it is also his musical outlet.
It’s a unique gathering of musicians and the setup is simple. There is a “host group” or, as Eric Gross calls it, the “accompanying group” or “background group”.
It is made up of the same core of musicians with a drummer, keyboardist, bassist and guitarist.
He is the one who launches the Jam. Then other “players” start showing up to join the jam. Some sign up, others skip. The singers too.
The drummers are changed, as are the bassists and when the horns come in, they form a horn section on the fly.
LOTS OF DRUMMER AND SAXISTS
Troy Douglas has been attending and organizing the popular Jam for 16 years, the last eight at Charlie Dwellingtron.
He’s the host drummer, but he rarely ends the night with drumsticks in hand.
From banging drums to spanking congas, there are usually plenty of drummers at the jam who want to play a set or two.
“One evening, nine drummers showed up. They didn’t all get their turn, but that happens sometimes,” Douglas said.
The Jam is all about embracing the love of music and giving the crowd an enjoyable Tuesday night.
Douglas said players rotate, but when it comes to saxophonists, sometimes it’s the more the merrier.
“We had up to five saxophonists at a time,” Douglas said.
Without even a hint of a smile, Douglas lists other types of musicians who have passed through Charlie’s to be part of the Jam.
“We had a bagpiper once. We had a guy from France who played the accordion. We even had a guy who came to play the didgeridoo. It was a bit out there, but we made it work,” Douglas said.
For those of you who don’t have access to Google, a didgeridoo is a wind instrument developed by the Aboriginal peoples of northern Australia at least 1,500 years ago.
For Moody, playing with other saxophonists is a fun night – a bit difficult, but that’s part of the fun.
“Basically what you do is someone in the horn section comes up with a riff to play behind whatever song is playing,” he explained. “Obviously we don’t rehearse, so we create as we go. Everyone picks up the riff and somehow finds it on the fly.
There is no stress or nerves in this process.
“That’s what makes it fun.”
The Jam is all about fun. Fun for the players and fun for the crowd.
“For musicians, it’s just a fun place to get an outlet to play,” Moody said. “It’s cool to be part of it.”
Gross discovered the Jam just over two years ago when the pandemic hit.
With music production shut down, he needed a musical outlet and stumbled across the Jam and fell in love with the small Tuesday night music congregation.
“I went to the Jam and almost immediately met some great people. There were super competent musicians, just super players. It was truly magical.
“There was a feeling of welcome, and for new players who might be a little nervous to come and play, there’s no feeling of nervousness that they’re going into a pressure situation,” he said. -he declares.
EMBRACE THE LOVE OF MUSIC
Douglas agreed wholeheartedly and said egos were checked at the door.
“If you notice that when you walk into Charlies, there’s a big pile of egos at the front door,” he deadpanned.
As for new players, Douglas said veterans help them.
“We elders all know how to help them. That way they’re more relaxed, more willing to try things,” he said.
Gross says it’s special when everything comes together perfectly.
“It’s really a mixture of all kinds of personalities. Artists are also known to be eccentric,” he laughed. “The backline has to be very patient and very open.”
Gross is part of this backline playing keyboards and providing vocals.
The Jam is about musicians mingling with new and old players, but Douglas said it’s also about a grateful crowd that appreciates good music.
“The crowd is a big part of the Jam,” he said. “We talk with them, joke with them, they laugh, they dance, they smile, and it really is a community.”
Most of the musicians who play at the Jam also play in bands. Some, like Douglas and Gross, have their own groups.
Gross said he’s thrilled his band Wild Flight and Emily Jurick are playing at this year’s Colorado Mountain Winefest in Palisade on Sept. 17.
Having professional musicians making music creates a special sound, a special atmosphere.
But sometimes the wheels fall off. It is, after all, a jam with rotating players.
“What I will say is you have to be prepared to take risks and also be prepared to be part of the occasional train wreck,” Gross said.
When a jam session goes off the rails, the backline must get it back on track.
“Sometimes it’s going to go somewhere funny and we’re going to have to wind it up, like the phoenix rising from the ashes, and get it going again.
“You have to laugh at that and say ‘well, that was interesting’ and roll with it.”
This is where patience comes into play.
But the goal is always to send great music into the night air and to a welcoming group of music lovers.
“And that’s what they get. In my 45 years of work, I think the product is getting really good,” Gross said. “It really became special.”