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Slow jams will be regulars at Isadora's Cafe

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SNOQUALMIE - There's a new musical event in town for those who like to take things a little bit slower.

An "acoustic slow jam" will be held at Isadora's in Snoqualmie at 8062 Railroad Ave. S.E. every second and fourth Friday from 7 to 9 p.m. beginning in May. The slow jam is for musicians who enjoy playing bluegrass, folk music, country and most other acoustic genres at a slower pace.

Musician John Hansen of Kent organized the event after discovering a large number of "slow jammers" in the area without a venue. He approached Chris Coffing, owner of Isadora's, about using her coffee shop as a jam joint. She agreed.

"I like to support local musicians. Also, we have a good acoustic venue here," Coffing said. "I'm always looking for a new way to bring people in. Also, the gentleman who approached me was very sweet and very earnest, you gotta' appreciate that."

Because they "couldn't wait," the first jam session was kicked off a little early on April 15, and another is set for April 22 at 7 p.m. From there, jam sessions will happen twice a month "without fail," Hansen said.

"We don't know where this thing is gonna' go, but I would suspect there's a lot of people who want to play slow rather than fast," Hansen said. "There's not any slow jams around."

Hansen, a banjo player, tried to start a similar jam night at the train depot in North Bend, but the city didn't want to commit to it, Hansen said. Since then, he's received many phone calls from slow jammers looking for a place to play. "This is a slow jam for people who can't play fast, you might say they're beginners. We're playing slow because we're not hot shots. Bluegrass is normally played about 90 miles an hour, they love to go fast, but it takes a lot of skill and we're just not there yet. ... We enjoy going slower, it's a learning process as much as a fun thing."

Hansen said the jam will be listed in the Washington Bluegrass Gazette as an ongoing event.

Hansen has played music all his life, beginning with the clarinet. About seven years ago he got a mandolin handed down from his mother that he didn't want, but couldn't seem to get rid of, so he learned how to play it.

"Then I fell in love with the banjo," Hansen said. "Now I'm learning to play fiddle."

Hansen said the musicians who will be playing at Isadora's are from all walks of life, with varying levels of experience.

"Some people have played all their lives," Hansen said. "It's not so much a performance; it might be construed that way. We're really just there to sit in a jam circle and practice things."

Hansen said the jam will embrace whatever genre the musicians want to play. "People who call up and say, 'What's going on tonight? Is there a jam someplace?' all have one thing in common, they love to play music. It's not strictly bluegrass. They can play whatever they're familiar with. It might be gospel or 'She'll be Comin' Around the Mountain,' might be a waltz, whatever they are capable of doing. We're very open."

So far, Hansen has nine musicians lined up to play at upcoming jams. He feels that a constant stream of jammers will sign on after that.

"I don't think we will [run out of players], as I say it's kind of a gas balloon up there, we don't know where it's going to go," Hansen said. "There are no specified slow jams anywhere else. I've already had six phone calls from people who want a slow jam. We'll just play it by ear and see what happens."

* To contact Hansen, call (253) 850-6880.

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