PacJAM receives grant, performances set for Earl Scruggs Music Festival this Labor Day weekend
Published 11:43 am Tuesday, August 23, 2022
Pacolet Junior Appalachian Musicians (PacJAM) are beginning their 10th year of providing by-ear stringed instrument education to the community this September 7. Spaces are open for youth and adult musicians of all levels, and this year is a particularly special year to help PacJAM “build community one song at a time,” as their logo says.
Tryon Fine Arts Center, which houses and supports PacJAM, has won a generous and competitive In These Mountains Project Grant from South Arts, which partners PacJAM with the inaugural Earl Scruggs Music Festival at Tryon Resorts this Labor Day Weekend.
TFAC will host a regional JAM Gathering on September 2 and September 3. Youth across two states from 26 JAM programs will receive workshops from Earl Scruggs Music Festival musicians, and attend the Festival for FREE!
Three PacJAM groups will perform on the Festival’s Foggy Mountain Stage on September 3 – Clover Pickers, Muddy Boots (made of long-time PacJAM students), and Trakas, Moore, & Jenkins (a trio of the program’s bluegrass teachers). Mary Beth Martin, Executive Director of the Earl Scruggs Center in Shelby, says this grant “provides the students with an incredible opportunity to experience firsthand the history and legacy of our region’s important musical traditions.”
In addition to the grant, PacJAM has a jam-packed schedule for their advanced students this semester – including performances at IBMA’s Wide Open Bluegrass in Raleigh, Fr8Yard’s free Gr8 Blue Wall Celebration featuring Noah Guthrie in Spartanburg on October 15, competition in the SC State Fiddle Championship, and a recording session at Greenville’s Sit-N-Spin Studios.
Long-time student Meredith Peek, who started playing guitar through PacJAM 7 years ago, says the commitment has really paid off. “Learning from different instructors over the years enriches your experience with your instrument. And being in a band or playing in a jam is so much fun, not to mention you get to hear different versions of songs and make new friends.”
The PacJAM semester is Wednesdays from 4 – 6 p.m., September 7-November 9, and offers instruction for beginner, intermediate, and advanced youth ages 8 and up in guitar, mandolin, fiddle, bass, & banjo; and starts students ages 6-8 on the ukulele. The program has a vibrant and dedicated group of adult students too, in both a beginner and advanced weekly JAM, and is always looking to grow their community. Scholarships are available for the $150, 10-week semester, and siblings get a 20% discount. For more information, call TFAC at 828-859-8322, Tuesday – Friday, 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. or visit www.tryonarts.org/pacjam.
Submitted by Julie Moore