Blues Jams At Wilmington's Rusty Nail Saloon
Were Jimi Hendrix or Stevie Ray Vaughan still alive, picking up a guitar and joining the weekly blues jams at Wilmington’s Rusty Nail Saloon would be a natural occurrence. Every Tuesday night, starting at 8:00 PM musicians, professional and amateur, and fans of the blues, primarily electric blues, flock to the club across from the Longshoremen’s Union Hall to experience some of the region’s best live music.
Sponsored by the Cape Fear Blues Society (CFBS), the jam sessions have been an institution for over a decade, and continue to thrive.
Enter the Nail and it is reminiscent of a 50’s blues club – seductive, intimate and jumping. Admission is free. To drink alcohol one must purchase a low priced membership of less than $5.00. The jam’s atmosphere is open and inviting, making it comfortable for anyone to sign up on the grid patterned white board by the front door. Write down your instrument of choice, your desired timeslot and wait your turn.
No worries on your skill level – just come armed with the desire to be part of a great experience. Here mentoring occurs with little fanfare. The old teach the young and vice versa. Everyone is assured of a 20-minute or three-song set whichever comes first.
The ground rules are few. You must play the blues, and the performance is neither to be used as a band practice, nor an audition for the Nail’s management. In other words, if “grandstanding” is your style, this is not your venue.
Another unique aspect to the jam, and appreciated by musicians and audience members alike, is the musical equipment provided free of charge by the CFBS. Fender Hot Rod & Peavey Delta Blues amps, Pearl drums and a complete Peavey bass rig with a full-bore professional P.A. system add a professionalism to every performance.
Enthusiastic devotees and curious newcomers to the musical genre enjoy the wealth of talent presented. Often visitors from other blues’ rich regions, like Austin, Memphis and Chicago, remark on the unique flavor of the North Carolina coastal blues where Piedmont and low country rhythms meld.
Here it is not uncommon the see young teens, complete with family and friends, trek several hours across the state for the chance to sing the blues. Or old rockers showcase their ability to still make a guitar wail. On occasion the famous, like Taj Mahal, Peter Tork and members of Earth, Wind and Fire have joined the jam.
Blues jams are also performed the first Saturday of every month at 9:00PM.
“Preserving, promoting and presenting the blues” is the motto of the CFBS. Join their journey whenever you are in Wilmington.
by Linda J. Bottjer
by Linda J. Bottjer
added: June 23, 2009
updated: June 29, 2009