By Sandra Cooper. **Videos posted at the end of this article**
Idaho Sawtooth Bluegrass Association held its fall festival on the grounds at Slocum Hall September 15-17. The event’s organizers began arriving early in the week and settled in to allow for some outdoor jamming in the evening air before taking on their duties.
Windy conditions Thursday evening made the classrooms at Slocum Hall a welcome retreat and several groups could be heard until late in the evenings in the “jam circles” in the Stubblefield classroom, Miss Jane Slocum Room in the basement, and the main classroom used during regular school hours by the Indianhead Academy Alternative High School students.
The scheduled events included a Friday Night Open Mic at the Snake River Heritage Auditorium, free instrument workshops on Saturday morning, a bluegrass concert featuring three great bands from 2-5 pm Saturday, and an open mic gospel time that began at 10:00 Sunday morning. A number of local residents attended the activities and the ISBA members are always happy to welcome everyone to their events and encourage musicians to join in the jam sessions and workshops.
This is the fourth year that the National Oldtime Fiddlers, Inc. has enjoyed hosting the ISBA group. Staff and volunteers of NOTF, Inc. look forward to seeing old friends and making new ones each mid-September coming to enjoy the spacious grounds at Slocum Hall and the ambience of the Snake River Heritage Center’s wonderful acoustic auditorium.
The weather was nearly perfect throughout most of the event, making daytime activities under the beautiful old trees a pleasant change from the summer heat. Several guests stayed in the lodging rooms at Slocum Hall, but most were in motor homes, camp trailers or tents, presenting a similar, though smaller, version of the encampment during “Fiddle Week.”
A regular fixture at nearly every music event at Slocum Hall is the motor home of J.D. and Judy Webb set up next to the sidewalk right in front of Slocum Hall. The area becomes “J.D. Webb Plaza” for the duration of their stay.
J.D. Webb and the Downstate Ramblers toured the country for over forty years and the band received nearly every award given for bluegrass and country music. These days, J.D. and Judy are retired and spend their time in their motor home visiting family or traveling between music events where J.D. always draws a crowd of fellow musicians for record-setting jam sessions lasting for hours. There is always plenty of good natured kidding between songs and that is half the fun. One of those jam sessions lasted for over thirteen and a half hours during Fiddle Week about three years ago. These folks mean business when they get together.
This gathering of musicians and music lovers is growing each year as area residents come to enjoy the gathering for music, workshops, and the relaxed and welcoming atmosphere at Slocum Hall and the Snake River Heritage Center auditorium. We hope you will all join in next year.