By Paula Cronic: PNT Staff Writer
Anyone who walks past the Wesley Foundation on Eastern New Mexico University’s campus between 2 p.m. and 5 p.m. every second and fourth Sunday will likely hear the sounds of traditional old-time, bluegrass and Irish music drifting out the front doors and into the streets.
That’s because the Portales Traditional Jam sessions are being held at that time. Musicians who play any instrument and of all ages are welcome to join.
“When I said all instruments welcome I meant it. I really, really did,” Rhomylly Forbes, founder of the group, said. “The first time we were here, a guy came with a trumpet, which was kind of neat because we’re playing bluegrass music, and he was just playing his trumpet right along with us.”
Forbes created the group about a month or so ago because she had often thought about how there wasn’t a place in Portales where musicians could go and play the three genres of music.
When people started asking her about any places to get together in the area, she decided to do something about it.
“I play up at Hastings in their coffee shop most Saturday nights and I had people saying, ‘I play Irish music. Is there anywhere to play Irish music here?’ and I finally said to myself, I’m going to start one,” Forbes said.
According to Forbes, there are other local country jam sessions in the area, such as Floyd’s Backporch Pickers, which performs every first and third Sunday, a country jam in Farwell, held every Thursday night, and a gospel jam held on Friday nights at the Victory Life coffee shop.
Forbes said she picked the second and fourth Sundays in hopes that some of the musicians who attend those jams would be interested in attending this one as well. She also said the group is open to playing a few country jams as well as gospel jams too.
“We’re encouraging new musicians to come, just to learn some tunes, pick up some styles and just have a good time playing music on a Sunday afternoon,” Forbes said.
Anne Cable and her husband, Dave Batten, are members of the group and attend the sessions regularly.
“It’s just a nice community,” Cable said. “Playing music together is a nice way to get to know people.”
Cable and Batten both feel it’s good for musicians to venture out and get together with other musicians.
“You can sit around the house and play your instrument and learn to play by yourself, but then you get with other people and you can’t play a lick because your timing is different than other people’s timing,” Batten said. “So when you get a chance to play with people twice a month or something like that, it really helps you.”
The jam sessions are usually held from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. or, as Forbes said, whenever the musicians get tired and run out of tunes to play.
The sessions will occur throughout the summer and into the fall.