Bella Vista Strings

The Weekly Vista - - Front Page - LYNN ATKINS latkins@nwadg.com

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.

Lynn Atkins/The Weekly Vista

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.

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