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Bluegrass Jam Moves to Six String Cafe

Bluegrass Jam Moves to Six String Cafe
Every second & fourth Monday, 7 p.m. – 11 p.m.
1040 Buck Jones Rd, Raleigh, NC

Dave Hedrick

Dave Hedrick

Bluegrass pickers and singers frequently jam together across the country, and Raleigh is no exception. A longstanding bluegrass jam group in the area found a new home in January when they met for the first time in the newly re-opened Six String Cafe and Music Hall. Many changes have happened recently for this Bluegrass Jam. In addition to its new location, it meets on a different night than it used to, and its leaders are also relatively new as hosts, though both have been regular attendees at the jam.

Due to the Six String’s schedule, which will include an open mic on Tuesday nights and a bluegrass performer on most Wednesday nights, the jam is now held the second and fourth Monday of every month (it used to meet on Tuesdays).

The jam’s format remains unchanged – it is still gather-round-the-circle style, and anyone from beginners to advanced players are welcome, and listeners, too! So update your calendars and come on by for some pickin’ and singin’! For more information on this jam, e-mail Doug Pratt at dpratt14[at]nc.rr.com or Dave Hedrick at stringsof9[at]hotmail.com.

Back in October, former leader David Cauthorn, who had led the bluegrass jam since its inception in 2006, turned over the reins of leadership to Pratt and Hedrick, both regular attendees of the jam.

Doug Pratt

Doug Pratt

Pratt was born in Charlotte, graduated from Davidson (1966), and earned a Ph.D. in zoology specializing in birds at Louisiana State University. He lived in Baton Rouge, Louisiana for 35 years, then moved back to North Carolina to take his current job as Research Curator of Birds at the North Carolina State Museum of Natural Sciences in Raleigh. When he’s not working at his day job or playing music, he sidelines as a bird illustrator, and he writes and illustrates books and research papers about birds.

When he was in third grade, Pratt received a ukulele and started learning to play. He got a guitar in sixth grade, learned to play autoharp from his grandmother, and picked up the dobro while he was in college.

Pratt won the International Autoharp Championship at the Walnut Valley Festival in Winfield, KS, in 2006. He also earned first place in autoharp contests at Fiddler’s Grove (2009) and Happy Valley Festival (2008), and he placed in several others. He has plans to put out a CD later this year.

He has been a bluegrass fan from an early age, when he used to see Flatt & Scruggs and the Foggy Mountain Boys on their Saturday afternoon TV show in the ’50s. That show was where he first saw Maybelle Carter playing autoharp “Appalachian style.”

“In those days, there were no ‘bluegrass police,’ and several groups had autoharps (Stonemans, etc), but today I play mostly dobro in the bluegrass jam,” Pratt says. “I used to play and sing with my sister, and still do when I can (she now lives near Elizabeth City), and in the church choir and high school chorus, so I have been singing tenor harmony for a long time.”

Pratt has played all kinds of acoustic music, from old time to light jazz, over the years. He also played semi-professionally for five years with singer-songwriter Jerad Perck in Baton Rouge before moving back to North Carolina. He’s a regular patron at several local festivals, including Galax and Fiddler’s Grove, and the Mountain Laurel Autoharp Gathering in Newport, PA, every June.

Like Pratt, Raleigh native David Hedrick began his musical explorations with a ukulele in the third grade. In fifth grade he switched to the baritone ukulele and began to entertain with it, particularly at Friday afternoon parties at his school.

Hedrick performed with various bands from seventh grade through college, playing tenor banjo and singing. During his college days in the ’50s, he gained what he considered his first exposure to folk music; he formed one folk band, then was invited to join another, called Legends, whose members still perform together every so often for fundraisers and various other events. Today, he is also the lead singer for the Clear Run bluegrass band.

As small as the folk music scene was at the time, Hedrick met and became friends with the Kingston Trio, hanging out with them before their gigs, going to their shows, and partying with them after the concerts.

In 1964, Hedrick learned about festivals like Union Grove and Galax by spending time at Raleigh’s old Sidetrack coffee house. He heard bluegrass and old-time musicians, and to this day he still attends a few festivals each year.

Though he did a lot of listening in those days, he didn’t pick up the bluegrass style of music himself until about 10 years ago at a jam session that was run in Raleigh by George Williamson. Hedrick tries to keep up with singing a wide range of music, but he has a particular soft spot for being around acoustic music.

“Having the music around you is one of the greatest things in the world; THE greatest is having acoustic instruments surrounding you. It doesn’t get any better than that,” Hedrick says. “Knowing you can go pretty much anywhere in the country and be able to play in jam sessions…that’s what makes bluegrass so great.” John Fried – bass player

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