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POP / FOLK : Open Acoustic Jam Jells Into Tradition

August 06, 1992|FRANK MESSINA | Frank Messina is a free-lance writer who regularly contributes to The Times Orange County Edition.

Like about 10 million other Jimi Hendrix wanna-bes, I took guitar lessons as a kid and dreamed about fame, females and fortune.

The band never hit it big, and I never got rich, but learning the guitar won me a great consolation prize: the ability to jam with other amateur musicians.

Jamming is simply merging your music with someone else's. It can be a soulful expression that is absolutely addictive.

It's also generally free, as it will be on Friday, when Shadetree Stringed Instruments in Laguna Niguel holds an open acoustic jam in its parking lot. About 100 pickers and grinners have come to the jams over the past five years.

"We're all players here (at the shop), and this is a great excuse to get together," said Greg Mirken, who owns Shadetree with his wife, Margie. "You can only develop so far if everyone just goes home and plays music in their bedroom. The opportunity to meet with other people helps everyone to grow as musicians."

You don't even have to be good to have fun. Players with all levels of ability are encouraged to participate.

Beginners are invited to show up at 7 p.m. for a "slo-jam," which is a "a non-threatening way to ease them into the jamming scene," Mirken said. More experienced musicians begin arriving at about 8 p.m.

The jams are somewhat impromptu, with people breaking into small groups according to musical interests such as bluegrass, Irish, folk or blues. Any non-amplified instrument can participate.

Mirken holds the musical gatherings during the summer on the first Friday of the month. Next month's jam will be on Sept. 4.

What: An open acoustic jam.

When: Friday, Aug. 7, beginning at 7 p.m.

Where: Shadetree Stringed Instruments, 28062 Forbes Road, Laguna Niguel.

Whereabouts: San Diego Freeway to Crown Valley Parkway west. Go left on Forbes Road. Turn left into the parking lot at the end of the street.

Wherewithal: Free.

Where to Call: (714) 364-5270.

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