Appalachian Old Time Jam

Old-time stringband music from the American south is the foundation out of which bluegrass emerged. But this traditional form of music still enjoys enormous popularity in its own right across North America and beyond.

If you play fiddle, guitar, mandolin, bass, dulcimer, or clawhammer-style banjo it would be great if you could join us. All skill levels are welcome.

We have prepared a description of how we plan to conduct our jam and a preliminary tune list, shown below.  Additional old-time resources will be available at the jam. In the meantime, you may be interested in the following video, which is a 30 minute PBS documentary about the Clifftop Festival, the premier annual old-time festival: 


If you have any questions, please contact Bruce at 780-660-9433 or email
or Don at 780-913-9157 or email

Edmonton Old Time Appalachian Jam
Tune List – October 2014


Angeline the Baker

Arkansas Traveler

Forked Deer

Rock the Cradle Joe

Bonaparte Crossing the Rhine

Whiskey Before Breakfast


Julianne Johnson

Over the Waterfall

Midnight on the Water

Johnny, Don't Get Drunk

Mississippi Sawyer

Fly Around My Pretty Little Miss

Duck River

Fisher's Hornpipe

St Anne's Reel

Soldier's Joy

Spotted Pony

Year of Jubilo

Wind that Shakes the Barley

Cumberland Gap

Bonaparte's Retreat


Little Rabbit

Little Billy Wilson


Cotton-Eyed Joe

Sourwood Mountain

Shenandoah Falls

John Brown's Dream

Booth Shot Lincoln

Bill Cheatham

Squirrel Heads and Gravy

Liza Jane

Hanged Man's Reel

A Modal 

Frosty Morning

Squirrel Hunters

Greasy Coat

Kitchen Girl

Cluck Old Hen


June Apple

Red Haired Boy  

Sandy Boys


Mrs McLeod's Reel

Sandy River Belle


Shove that Pig's Foot

Nail that Catfish to a Tree

Seneca Square Dance


Elk River Blues

Coloured Aristocracy

Red Wing

Big Scioty



Billy in the Lowground

Texas Gals

Old time Appalachian jams possess many of the same elements as other music circles: the emphasis is on creating an inclusive, supportive, friendly, and enjoyable musical environment.

Some features differ, which is especially true of the first two points mentioned below. Here are our jam pointers.

1. Old time jam circles usually play a cluster of tunes in a given key before shifting to another key. This is done to benefit the banjo players (mainly), and the fiddlers. For clawhammer banjo players, a change of key almost always necessitates re-tuning. Likewise, some tunes work best for fiddlers if played in what is termed "cross-tuning". To minimize the disruption in the flow of the jam that this might cause, one stays in a selected key until the mood in the room suggests that it is time for a change. That might occur after, say, 10 tunes or more. Jams have been known to stay in one key all night.

2.  Playing is treated as a collective endeavour. In consequence, we will not take breaks or solos.

3. Tunes tend to be played for a long time, often six to ten times through or so; sometimes even longer. The hope is that the circle can get 'locked into' a groove. In addition, playing a number of rounds allows people unfamiliar with a given tune time to pick it up on the go.

4. Tune selection is shared around the circle. We will proceed clockwise around the circle with each participant choosing a tune. If do not feel like choosing a tune, simply pass to the next person in the circle. The person choosing the tune usually kicks it off and brings it to an end. If you are uncomfortable starting a tune, just request someone else in the circle start it for you.

5. Especially during this formative period of the Edmonton Appalachian Old Time Jam, we would like to stay as close as possible to old-time tunes and songs, played with an old time sensibility. Of course, the precise scope of these concepts is hard to define, especially since many old time tunes are also found in Canadian Old Time and Bluegrass music. As far as the repertoire is concerned, a starting set-list of old time tunes has been created; see above. One does not have to play a tune on the list, and the list itself will grow over time.

6. We would like to limit the instruments to those normally found in Appalachian Old Time music, namely: fiddle, clawhammer banjo, guitar, mandolin and bass. All skill levels are welcome.