Opening the stage for local musicians

NINA WILLIS | Evergreen reporter

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Locals can jam together every Thursday night and can earn free pizza and beer at a former auto shop in Moscow.

The Slice & Biscuit started their first bluegrass jam on Feb. 2 with the hope of bringing more live music to the Moscow area. Owner Rebekah Becker contemplated bringing music to her restaurant, thinking first of an open-mic night, but then opened up to hearing suggestions from staff.

Adam Price, bartender at Slice & Biscuit, suggested the idea of a bluegrass jam. Price also plays the guitar and mandolin and sometimes starts the jams at Slice & Biscuit.

Bluegrass jams originated in the South and expanded from there, Price said. Especially in Colorado, where Price used to live, bluegrass jams are all over the place, he said. Many festivals also feature bluegrass jams because the genre is a very traditional style of music and very popular across the U.S., Price said.

Involving minimal set-up, the whole atmosphere is very chill and laid back, Price said. Guests show up at the restaurant at 6 p.m. with their instruments and play. Recently, they got a new microphone, hoping to improve sound quality because the restaurant can get noisy.

Anyone who wants to perform is welcome, even if you have never played bluegrass before, Price said. Everybody can bring a song they want to play, and the participants will go around in a circle and play it.

So far, traditional songs like “Nine Pound Hammer” and “This Train is Bound For Glory” have been played, as well as some fiddle tunes, like “Blackberry Blossoms,” which have no lyrics but make great instrumentals.

“There’s hardly anything involved,” Price said. “Bring your instrument, tune up, grab a beer and that’s it.”

The bluegrass jam fits into the theme of Slice & Biscuit, Becker said. The place used to be an auto shop, which makes it unique. Becker said they also styled it with a vintage feel, so the type of music really suits the place.

The theme of the restaurant centers on what Becker and her husband like, and they strive to have a family-friendly atmosphere. The playground outside gives kids a chance to have fun so parents can relax while watching their kids, Becker said. The live music is performed early so parents can bring their children along to enjoy as well.

“I was just talking with my husband the other day, and I realized this would be our hang out spot if we didn’t own the place,” Becker said. “We made it the kind of place we’d want to go to.”

As an extra incentive, guests who decide to perform get a free slice of pizza and a beer, Becker said. Slice & Biscuit plans on hosting bluegrass jams every Thursday from now on, as long as people stay interested in it. About 20 people showed up to the first jam, and the second had about eight to 10, making it pretty successful so far, Becker said.

Becker also wants to expand the live music aspect to performances every Saturday, and she’s still on the lookout for musicians to play, she said. Since not a lot of restaurants around Moscow have live music, she hopes to have Slice & Biscuit become known as the place with live music.

Bluegrass jams take place from 6 – 9 p.m. every Thursday at Slice & Biscuit in Moscow. Patrons are welcome to bring their instruments and song suggestions.