Local musicians to release second recording
A group of local musicians, who began performing "jam sessions" in a spare room of a grocery store, are in the process of completing their second "live" compact disc.
Two years ago, a few of the musicians needed a place to hold their jam sessions and Mark Bichelmeyer, owner of Bichelmeyer Bros. Meats and Grocery, provided a spare room at the store.
The number of people coming to the jam sessions increased so much that George Mills, co-owner of Doc and Brutie's Pizza and one of the musicians, invited the group to play in his restaurant.
"People just kept coming in," said Garry Bichelmeyer. "so we had to start taking some of the people to their other restaurant in DeSoto."
According to Bichelmeyer, people from Leavenworth to Osawatomie, ages 8-80 come and perform in the jam sessions.
Bichelmeyer explained the jam sessions, which are on Wednesday evenings beginning at 6:30 p.m. at the Doc and Brutie's locations in Basehor and DeSoto, provide local musicians a chance to play with others in a public setting, along with allowing area residents a chance to enjoy live music.
"The good thing about this is that you play in front of people, your shyness goes away every time you do it. It makes it easier to perform," Bichelmeyer said.
"We're hams," Bichelmeyer said of playing in front of a crowd. "We like to perform. If you sit on your back porch and play by yourself, you only have yourself to learn from. But some of these older fellas that know a lot about music can help people out immensely in a short amount of time."
Bichelmeyer said there is no charge to attend the jam sessions.
"Rightfully so, because sometimes the music isn't that good," Bichelmeyer joked."
But, he added, most of the time the music is good enough that some people come out to scout musicians to try to get them to join their bands. Bands have also been formed as a result of the jam session. Bichelmeyer said most of the performers play country music, with a little bluegrass and blues mixed in.
"We don't have anyone playing heavy rock and roll. Maybe a little CCR (Creedence Clearwater Revival) or something."
The jam sessions led the group to put out a live CD, "Pickin'-n-Pizza," with a follow-up recording on the way.
"A live CD doesn't have the quality that a Garth Brooks would make," Bichelmeyer said. "It was done more for the experience of doing it."
Recently, Bichelmeyer was driving through Eudora and noticed a recording studio that was getting started up, Red House Recording.
"I asked them about doing a live recording at one of the jam sessions in DeSoto. We told everyone what we were doing and a couple of weeks ago, they came out and did it."
It will be another month or so before the new CD comes out. Bichelmeyer said the recording should be available at the Doc and Brutie's locations.
"We don't sell it for profit. It all goes to charity," said Bichelmeyer. He said that proceeds are used to help fellow musicians, but that money has been given to charities such as the American Cancer Society.
If Bichelmeyer had his way, he would probably just want to have his guitar or banjo in his hands playing in front of a group of listeners.
"When I was in Vietnam and getting ready to leave, I heard these guys playing music and I went down to listen to them," Bichelmeyer said. "They were having the best time. I thought that was the way to live, everyone sitting around playing music."