For the past 16 years, pickers from around the region have gathered in western Loudoun to swap stories, hone their skills and enjoy the camaraderie of fellow musicians during the Bluegrass jam sessions held on the last Friday of the month.
Since 2004, the events were held at the Old Furniture Factory building in Round Hill. With that location being converted for Joan Wolford’s expanding Savoir Fare catering business, the players gathered at a new home last week.
When word spread about the need for a new location, Stephen and Shannon Mackey reached out to offer their space at Notaviva Craft Fermentations on the side of the Blue Ridge west of Hillsboro. They opened their doors to the group for the first time Feb. 28 and drew a lively crowd for the four-hour event.
“Our vision for the rebranding of Notaviva by adding beer, cider and hard seltzer to our lineup goes well beyond our authentic craft fermentations. We endeavor to become the go-to hub of our local original music scene, to help nurture not only our agritourism experiences, but also our regional cultural identity,” Stephen Mackey said. “By bringing together musicians from the tri-state area into our scenic Loudoun Heights Agritourism Trail, we hope to foster both creativity and friendships over our handcrafted beverages.
“Our goal is to inspire younger artists and leverage emerging technologies to help bring their music to a wider audience, all while preserving revered traditions such as the Bluegrass Jam. Tourists today have so many destinations from which to choose, we believe that by creating the most authentic sense of place we can deliver the most unforgettable experiences,” he said.
Program founder Wally Johnson has said that at its peak the jam session has attracted up to 250 people, including appearances by the likes of Ben Eldridge, The Seldom Scene’s former banjo player; Dick Smith, a former banjo player with The Country Gentlemen; and Tara Linhardt, a mandolin player with Bluegrass Collusion.