By Jeremy Myers
McClurg Musician Jeremy Myers recounts his first experience at the Jam, which is held in an old building that was home to many businesses. Locals and visitors drop in for food, dancing, and music performed by regulars and anyone who wants to join. Attend the jam on Mondays at 6:30 PM in the old country store at 3899 State Hwy W in McClurg for a foot-stompin’ good time.
Before I visited McClurg, it was only a place I had heard my fifteen-year-old neighbor talk about. When I arrived, a cheerful Aileen Adams greeted me and made me feel as if I were family. She started the jam in her house many years before my arrival and moved it to the general store after the business closed.
At the time, I had been an experienced guitar player. Having played for eighteen years, I believed I could hold my own at the jam session—at least well enough that I could play along with no issues.
I was ill-prepared. The fiddlers rolled through their notes at a rate of 140 to 160 beats-per-minute, scaling the length of the fingerboard faster than my mind could comprehend. It was clear that I was playing at a new level.
The sound created was a sound filled with such purity and fluidity; my mind ignored all other distractions. It was the kind of sound that pulled at the strings of simplicity, yet also had some kind of complexity. It was a skill I admired and sought.
I found a low-cost fiddle to purchase and started with simple tunes that I already knew by heart.
Over the next ten years, I attended the McClurg Jam session judiciously, attempting to keep alive the tradition and improve my skill. In the process, I also picked up the banjo and learned the Clawhammer style (a style where the player “notes” the strings by shaping their hand into the shape of a claw). Because a mandolin is tuned the same as a fiddle, I was able to pick up mandolin easily, too.
I learned to play by watching those who were better than I and practiced at home every week. I emulated their style and learned tunes like, “Johnny Bring the Jug Around the Hill,” “Soldiers Joy,” “Sally Gooden,” and many more traditional tunes that have been played in the Ozarks hills for centuries.
To me, McClurg is so much more than a place to pluck a few notes. When I enter the building, I am greeted happily and the sense of family is pervasive. Each time I leave, I find that the music continues to play in my mind, and this drives me to learn new songs and instrumentals that I can bring the next week.
Want to join the jam?
For more on the McClurg jam, read the December 2013 issue of Missouri Life.