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Town Square Bluegrass Jam marks 20th anniversary

Nearly every Friday night for the past 20 years, a group of musicians has met in Collierville’s Historic Town Square to play together. They call it the Friday Night Bluegrass Jam. However, sometimes the music strays to folk or some other acoustic genre.
Regardless of what niche the songs being played and sang fit into, they’ve served as vehicles to bring this group together and keep them together over two decades, and have added to the lore of Collierville’s Town Square.
The most recent bluegrass jam met in the Collierville United Methodist Church, as it will do until mid-April, when the jam will return to its original venue of outside in the Town Square.
There were about 12 musicians and a dozen spectators at the March 1 jam, which met in coffee shop behind the church at 454 West Poplar. The circle of musicians took turns choosing songs, and the collective set included Angeline Baker, Angel Band and Sitting on Top of the World.
If you don’t know these songs, some of them are as old is Collierville, and their longevity in acoustic music circles is the reason why groups like this one gather regularly to play and sing. Space would’ve been a little tight in the coffee shop but for the cooperative attitude of everyone involved. People scooted over and allowed for folding chairs brought from across the hall. Some came in for just a little while to visit and sing, and then filed back out to make room for someone else.
The music continued while all of this coming and going went on, and sitting by the door to both welcome you and warn you not to block the door was Betty Westmoreland, the instigator of all this organized chaos.
It was at her suggestion 20 years ago that a group of musicians approached the board of Mayor and Aldermen to ask if they could have a weekly bluegrass jam in the Square.
Who knew it would come to this. And who knew, except those who know her, that Westmoreland would still be involved in organizing communication between the musicians and finding new venues when necessary.
Her hard work has paid off and now the jam is now part of Collierville history and hopefully will go on for another 20 years.
If you’re up for a good time that doesn’t cost a penny, come on down and bring your guitar, banjo, mandolin or just your hands to clap.
The jammers meet every Friday at 6:30 p.m. and play until everybody’s tired and goes home. Bring supper in a sack or eat at one of the restaurants around the Town Square.
Standard bluegrass instruments only. Fans are encouraged to attend for a “country-dog good time.”

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