KILGORE – Local guitarists, violinists and bassists gathered in a circle on Saturday at Kilgore Mercantile & Music for a jam on a rainy evening.
The “picking circle” began with one guitar starting the song and the others joining in as they took it. The group meets at the downtown Kilgore store on the second Saturday of each month for Bluegrass & Blue Bell Acoustic Jam.
“We are talking about music,” said Fred Gebhardt, owner of Kilgore Mercantile & Music. “These jams are happening everywhere. “
His wife and co-owner, Vivian, sat behind the counter with a hot cup of tea on the damp, cold night. She said she didn’t play music but loved listening to the band come together.
Everyone is welcome to participate or listen, but the event also has a few regulars.
“You never know who is going to show up,” Gebhardt said. He said professionals have been there as well.
“It’s always great, never a bad time,” he said.
Between songs, the band members were chatting. Some laughed that they had no idea what song they had just played, although no one could tell.
“It’s more about brotherhood than choosing anyway,” said JoAnn Wilgus.
The band played bluegrass, gospel and country.
Carolyn Johnson of Longview sang and played bass. She has been playing in “selection circles” for about 45 years, she said.
“I love it,” she said.
Eldon Hamilton, 71, said he had been playing a stringed instrument since the age of 5.
“We are generation after generation of church musicians,” he said. “Most of us here have been playing for a long, long time.”