Smile Politely

The Upper Bout to debut Guitar Club tonight

In the early 1960’s during the burgeoning period of folk music in Greenwich Village, a young Bob Dylan would hang out at the Northwest corner of Washington Square Park and listen to buskers and groups of people strumming on instruments. It sounds absurd, but the truth is that this communal space was attractive in that it allowed artists to share pieces of themselves with a larger audience. You might think of it as an ever-changing jam session that sometimes saw Dylan or other notable neighbors participating.

Regardless of whether or not those situations sparked Dylan to write one of his classics on The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan or The Times They Are a-Changin’, they did allow for this exchange of ideas and music that was important to the culture and music scene in Greenwich at the time. Despite having coffee houses and performance spaces in which more prominent performers can play, the lifeblood of the whole scene was the opportunity for the everyman to participate.

Champaign-Urbana is not Greenwich Village in the 60’s. That does not mean, though, that the music scene in town is lacking because it doesn’t have a corner of a famous park dedicated to busking and jamming. But, as a music community, it’d be cool to re-ignite that type of camaraderie with local musicians, whether they’re in a well-known local band or a novice who’s learning what kind of music that they want to play. Fostering relationships and discussions and jam sessions is something that’s tough to do in the age of digital media and needing everything to happen immediately. Life gets in the way and we get busy or our schedule fills up so fast that free time is unheard of.

Tonight at 7 p.m., though, the Upper Bout is hosting their first-ever meeting for the Upper Bout Guitar Club. It’s an opportunity for guitar lovers and players to meet and connect over music. It sounds so simple, but in reality, the idea of scheduling a time for musicians to just meet and BS about music without pretense is such a cool thing. This has a chance to bridge the gaps in ages and styles of local musicians to the point where collaboration and discussion could foster lifelong musical partnerships. Outside of any lofty expectations like that, though, music is supposed to be fun and this will absolutely be that.

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