TrailJams is about making acoustic music together, for the enjoyment of the musicians and of people passing by.

Hi, I’m Jonathan Lay. As a musician, some of the most joyful and satisfying times I’ve had is playing and singing in the company of other musicians. It might be a late night pub sing or an afternoon of playing tunes. Making music with other people is a rich experience that leaves us feeling good for a long time. When the weather is good, taking that music outside where we can enjoy trees, sunlight, and fresh air increases that richness. Adding to that is the joy that we see in people who pause to listen, smile and maybe dance or sing a little bit.

It’s all of that that led to the creation of TrailJams. TrailJams is about making acoustic music together, for the enjoyment of the musicians and of people passing by. That’s certainly not a new idea — people have been doing that for as long as there have been people. But sometimes it can be hard to find other people to make music with, a place to play, and a set of music that we can share. That’s where TrailJams comes in — helping us to connect with other musicians, choose a time and place to play, learn music and technique, and stay in touch with each other.

What’s in the name “TrailJams”?

TrailJams started outside. That was partly out of the necessities of the COVID pandemic, and partly because it is really a pleasure to play music together outside. For our first two years, starting in 2020, all of our musical gatherings were outside in a variety of locations, but always next to a walking path. So that’s the “Trail.”

And the “Jams”? The first handful of us who gathered for what became TrailJams played American old-time tunes, and in the tradition of old-time music, those gatherings are called “jams.” Later we began gathering to play Irish tunes, and in the Irish tradition those gatherings are called “sessions.” But the name “TrailJams” has stuck, and it rolls off the tongue nicely, even if there may not be a trail or a jam every time we get together.

A glimpse of a TrailJams Irish tune session.

Questions & Answers

Why play outside? Because it’s refreshing in the best of times, and now as we shake off the COVID-19 pandemic, getting together outside means there is plenty of fresh air and space.

Why next to a path or trail? So that other people can enjoy your music, or just enjoy that someone is making music. Because it’s a trail, passersby can enjoy the surprise, listen a while, and then move on. Your “trail” might be a river, a sidewalk, a walking path, or a hiking trail.

What kind of music? Whatever you like. At your music gathering you might focus on Irish tunes, American old-time tunes, klezmer, blues, jazz, shanty singing, or any other style or mix of styles.

Why acoustic instruments? Playing acoustic instruments means you don’t need electrical outlets, amplifiers, microphones, or speakers. It also means that you probably won’t be loud enough to bother anybody.

This website and all of its content is copyright Jonathan Lay, 2021-2023 unless otherwise noted.