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Acoustic Jam

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"I first came out here when I was learning to play the Mandolin," said Paul Donovan of Springfield as he and Vance Bonner of Oregon, warm-up while waiting for others to join a bi-monthly, drop-in acoustic jam session at Frying Pan Farm Park in Herndon. The session is held the first and third Sundays of every month and anyone is welcome to attend. "It’s a pretty good social event and I enjoy getting to know the people that come out here to play and learning new songs," said Donovan. Bonner, who lives in Oregon, spends every summer in northern Virginia and attends the sessions when she is in town.

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Don Browning of Winchester, plays along on his guitar at one of the recent acoustic jam sessions at Frying Pan Farm Park. Browning who works at the park said that this was his first time attending the session, saying, "I thought I would give it a try."

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Traditional bluegrass instruments can usually be seen at these jam sessions, like banjos, mandolins, fiddles and washboards.

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Every first and third Sundays of each month, residents from all over the northern Virginia area come to Frying Pan Farm Park in Herndon to jam bluegrass music with others bluegrass fans in what is an informal, drop-in session. Don Browning, Mike Mears of Fairfax Station and Freddi Szilagi of Alexandria, are regulars to these session that usually last about 3-hours.

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Every first and third Sundays of each month, residents from all over the northern Virginia area come to Frying Pan Farm Park in Herndon to jam bluegrass music with others bluegrass fans in what is an informal, drop-in session. The group usually plays traditional bluegrass and country music on traditional instruments like; guitars, banjos, fiddles, mandolins and even the occasional washboard.

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Each week brings out the regulars and new people all with the same interest in bluegrass music. "Sometimes we have a lot of people out here and sometimes only a few," said Debbie Billodeaux of Herndon. "Sometimes when there are a lot, they will split off in several little groups doing their own thing. It’s a lot of fun."

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"There is a pretty good bluegrass group that play’s in Arlington that I used to go to all the time to play," said Debbie Billodeaux, one of the founders of the acoustic bluegrass jam at Frying Pan Farm Park, "but there was nothing in the western part of Fairfax County. I live right across the street and approached the park about letting us play here on occasion and they were very accommodating." The group will usually play in the country store at the park during the winter or at he visitors center. "It gets kind of crammed in the store, so playing outside is nice when the weather is good."

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Vance Bonner and Freddi Szilagi play a fiddle solo while jamming with other bluegrass musicians from across the northern Virginia area at a bi-monthly acoustic ham session at Frying Pan Farm Park in Herndon. "I live in Oregon, but visit this area every summer and look forward to coming to these jams every year. It’s a wonderful, wonderful jam," said Bonner.

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"These jams are really informal," said Debbie Billodeaux. "This jam is a really good beginning jam. As my husband says, "Every jam has it’s own personality.’" Someone can come out here and just jump right in, or they can hang out in the back and just play along at their own pace. We come out here just to have fun and play good music."

Bring an instrument or come by the Frying Pan Farm Park, 2709 Ox Road, Herndon, Country Store on Sunday, Aug. 3, from 1-4 p.m. and enjoy a free, drop-in session. For more information, call 703-437-9101.