| Jun 04, 2009

Back to HomeFeature Article - June 4, 2009 Popular Piccadilly Jam Changes venueby Julie Druker

Priscilla Smith of Battersea step danced while her husband Ken fiddled along with other regulars at the first Bedford jam held at the Bedford Hall

In an effort to accommodate the growing popularity of the Piccadilly Hall Jam Session, organizers moved the bi-weekly event from the Piccadilly Hall in Godfrey to the Bedford Township Hall located on the Westport Road just east of Godfrey.

The event, which costs only one dollar to attend, has been taking place in Godfrey since 2007 and has grown steadily in popularity to the point where the hall could no longer safely contain the audience and the constantly growing number of participating musicians.

Joan Shepherd, one of the founding members of the jam session, informed me that the decision to move was made by organizers on May 1. Last Sunday was the first time that the event took place at the new Bedford Hall location.

Joan explained the benefits that the new hall has to offer: more washroom facilities, a roomier kitchen and a legal capacity almost twice the size of the Piccadilly Hall. There is also ample parking, which was becoming an issue at the former location.

Judy Albertson who often co-hosts the jams, manages the sound system and participates as a guitar player and singer, admitted that the move was a difficult decision to make.

The Piccadilly Hall has been the home of the jam for most of its existence and for many musicians and audience members the hall is a nostalgic location closely tied to their lives.

But judging by the turnout on Sunday in Bedford, jam goers seemed more than willing to make the move to the new locale. By 2:00 pm every single seat in the Bedford Hall was filled and for late comers there was standing room only. It was estimated that there were close to 160 people in attendance, which proved that the move was indeed justified.

Gerry Webster hosted Sunday’s jam and as usual a slew of local musicians sat on the sidelines playing softly along to the music coming from the stage while waiting their turn in the spot light.

Brother Brian of CFRC radio at Queen’s University attended the event and raffled off two tickets to Tommi Fest, which were won by Delbert Gibson of Bedford.

The jams are renowned for the variety of music played by the performers: country, bluegrass, folk, gospel music, and yodeling. The usual instruments are banjo, guitar, mandolin, fiddle, dulcimer, and spoons and it is not uncommon for step dancers to take a turn tapping out a tune on the slatted wood floor.

Musicians are asked to sign up on a sheet and then are called to play. Everyone is welcome.

According to Joan “The Piccadilly (now Bedford) jam is a place that takes people back to simpler times when folks got together and played just for the sheer pleasure of the music.”

She added, “The jam sessions seem to have taken on a life of their own and truly they carried on not only by the performers, but by the audience as well. Where will it end, only time will tell, but with the quality of performers we are seeing, it’s no wonder the sessions are being called Nashville North!”

The Bedford Jam Sessions take place every other Sunday from 1:30-4:30pm at the Bedford Hall. The next one will take place on June 14.

For more information on the Bedford Jam and their upcoming old time music competition please visit www.frontenacoldtimemusic.com

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