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Miss Melody Berger, feminist writer and fiddler extraordinaire, presents a weekly event in the East Village for your toe-tapping pleasure. Banjo Jim's, a dim yet flashy venue for some of the best local music in the city and equally entertaining national acts, is the home of many a jam session. Jams, like Melody's late-nite Saturday Bluegrass Jam are often the best attended music events in the city. Bluegrass tunes played at this jam and others, such as Michael Daves' first Monday at Parkside Lounge (at 317 East Houston Street on the Lower East Side) and the weekly Wednesday Grisly Pear jam (at 107 MacDougal St. in NYC's Greenwich Village), feature spontaneous solos and multi-part harmonies yet the standards are always there. Audience requests are common, although the jam band is more often than not the entire audience, playing their favorites. These favorite tunes aren't just whistlin' Dixie, either. Like Berger, other musicians including Hilary Hawke, Elio, Michael Daves, and others are some of the best local Bluegrass musicians this side of the Hudson. My personal favorite murder ballad "Down in the Willow Garden" is one such standard
I drew my saber through her It was a bloody knife I threw her into the river It was an awful sight My father often told me That money would set me free If I'd but murder that dear little girl Who's name was Rose ConnelyHead on down to the LES on the first Saturday of the month, 10pm 'til late! To attend this and any jam, just bring enough for the tip bucket and a few drinks. To play with the band, bring your instrument and some polished tunes. "We keep it simple, so don't bring a drum." Reminds Berger, "bluegrass is fiddle, banjo, bass, guitar, dobro, and mandolin."