Bella Vista Strings
One group in Bella Vista is meeting weekly with only one agenda item. The members of Bella Vista Strings just want to jam, organizer Richard Clark said.
There are about 28 members in the group, although not everyone is present for every meeting. Usually, there are 12 to 14 members present. That’s a more manageable size, Clark said.
They meet at 1 p.m. every Friday at the Artist Retreat Center on 71 B.
Most of them bring along a stringed instrument. There are a lot of guitars, but there are also basses, banjos, fiddles and
mandolins. One percussionist attends, usually with his bongos and one member plays an autoharp. One woman attends without an instrument — just to sing along.
The experience levels range from professional songwriters and musicians to beginners, but everyone contributes.
“We’re strictly a jam session club. We’re not doing it for performance,” Clark said. A few members have formed smaller groups and they do perform, but they also come back to jam with the big group.
Once in a while, someone comes in to listen anyway, he said.
“We’re not playing Bella Vista style music,” he said. “We play what we like — old country, blue grass, soft rock, hard rock, folk. We just play and we have fun.”
All the members can submit a song to the club’s song book. Clark takes the songs and creates an arrangement that all the musicians can play. It’s not always easy, he said.
A PDF of the song will be added to the group’s song book and to the web page. When possible, he also provides a link to a YouTube video of each song, so members can hear the rhythm and see the chords. If there’s a good version on YouTube, it can be played in slow motion to let a less experienced musician see how to reach the chords. Some of the members submit original music for the group to try.
During the jam sessions, they sometimes go through the song book, but sometimes play “call outs” when a member has a suggestion.
It’s a nonthreatening environment, Clark said.
“We want to let people know there’s a place to play,” he said, “For live music to continue, you need to bring people into a safe environment.”
There are no dues, although many of the members contribute a few dollars to help the Artist Retreat Center pay its utility bills. Some will also volunteer at ARC concerts.
For more information, contact Clark at 479-3660045 or BVStrings@gmail.com. The club’s website is www.bvstrings.org.
Members of the Bella Vista Strings, a group that gets together once a week to play all kinds of stringed instruments, moved their jam session to Concordia last week. They played in the dining room of the nursing home.