DC Bluegrass Union VFW Bluegrass Jams

The DC Bluegrass Union sponsors Bluegrass Jams twice monthly at:

Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 350
6420 Orchard Ave, Takoma Park, MD 20912

VFW Post 350:    301-270-8008
or Barb Diederich:     barb@barbdiederich.com


Where are the jams?
At the Takoma Park Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 350, 6420 Orchard Ave, Takoma Park, MD 20912, 301-270-8008. The VFW Post is at the corner of Orchard Ave and 4th Ave, just a few blocks from the intersection of New Hampshire Ave and Eastern Ave. Please show appreciation for the VFW Post's kindness in providing a venue for the Jam by being generous to your bartender, especially when we continue playing later than 10:00 PM.

When are the jams?
On the first and third Mondays of each month. Nominally the jams go from 7:00-10:00 PM but if people want to continue we sometimes keep going after 10:00 PM.

Are there jams on the fifth Monday of those months which have them?
No, there are no jams on the fifth Mondays of the month.

Is there a cover charge?
No, the jams are free.

How good does a musician have to be? Are listeners welcome? Are children welcome?
Musicians of all levels of ability are welcome, as are those who simply want to come and listen. We get everyone from the rankest beginners to full-time professional musicians. The jams have something to offer everyone who comes; good musicians get a chance to have a good time with fellow jammers, and novices are supported and encouraged. Children may come but they must be supervised. As the VFW is a bar, minors who come must not drink alcohol and should avoid drawing attention to their age.

What's the format of the jams?
We all stand in a big circle around a table and take turns. Some stand in the front row and some in the back. As we go around the circle, each person has a chance to choose a song (or instrumental). If a beginner wants to play an instrumental really slowly, then that's what we do. If you're not comfortable with your playing, stand in the back; and if you don't want a turn just say, "I pass." No need to feel pressured.

Do we have a "song list"?
No. Some try to sing different songs every time we get together, but others have shorter lists that they repeat more often. Best would be to learn to play songs by ear. Listen to a bluegrass station like bluegrasscountry.org, 105.5 FM in Reston VA, 93.5 FM in Frederick and Hagerstown MD, or Sirius XM, and try to play along.

What instruments are welcome?
Acoustic instruments are used. Guitar, mandolin, banjo, dobro, fiddle, bass fiddle, and sometimes harmonica (if they're good). No drums, no electrified instruments such as pedal steels. (Electric bass is the exception.) I host the jams and play bass fiddle, but as a representative of the DCBU my job is to make all pickers feel welcome, so if another bass player comes I let him or her trade off or even play the majority of the time.

What types of songs are permitted?
This is a bluegrass jam, but country, pop, rock, and folk songs may be acceptable if played in a bluegrass style. We ask only that you choose a song at least vaguely bluegrass-related, and easy to follow.

Do we send out announcements before each jam?
Yes, a few days ahead of each jam, I send out an email notification. I maintain an email list, and also send the notification to DCAB-L. To be added to the list, send an email to barb@barbdiederich.com.

Do I have to RSVP?
You may if you wish, but it's not necessary.

What's the VFW Post like?
The VFW Post is a bar. Since it's a bar, it's not polite to bring your own drink. Also, since the VFW Post is defined as a private club for tax purposes, guests must sign in (this is the law). The signin sheet is to the right immediately upon entering the door. Please show appreciation for the VFW Post's kindness in providing a venue for the Jam by being generous to your bartender, especially when we continue playing later than 10:00 PM.

Does the VFW Post serve food?
No, the VFW Post serves drinks but no food, so plan to eat before you come.

Is the VFW Post accessible by public transportation?
Yes. The closest Metro Station is the Takoma Station on the Red Line. At Takoma Station, walk to Bus Bay D. Take the F1 Bus towards Cheverly Station. Get off at the stop at Eastern Ave and Tuckerman St NE. From there, walk to 6420 Orchard Ave, Takoma Park, at the corner of Orchard Ave and 4th Ave (about 0.2 mi.)

Last updated 1/30/2016