It’s a very Spirit of Crozet thing to do, organize a cause or an event you think needs to exist and don’t wait for somebody else to make it happen. So now we have a guitar jam, led by Jim Pyle, at the depot in downtown Crozet on the third Thursday evening of the month at 7 p.m.
In January the music was songs by The Kingston Trio. Then, after Glenn Frye of The Eagles died in January, February was dedicated to Eagles’ songs. In March the theme will be Beatles’ hits.
Six guitar players showed up for the informal session in February. They were joined by nine singers, including some from the Crozet Community Chorus. Word of mouth has spread news of the sessions so far.
The idea started with Front Porch, a Charlottesville organization that promotes old-time music and offers lessons. “They gave it a try for a couple months and then they pulled out,” said guitar-player Marvin Rankin, who besides having a day job with U.Va. is a maker of cigar-box guitars and dulcimers that are available for sale at the Crozet Artisans shop in the depot.
“Jim picked it up the mantle and we switched to folk and classic rock. We invited the Chorus, too. We play and have fun. I came out to jam and I like the Doc Watson stuff too. Jim is the ramrod. He’s taken charge and done a good job.
“Any instrument is welcome. I’ve been a beginner guitarist for 40 years. We’re trying to provide an outlet for people to get together and play. It’s good for the community. It’s about camaraderie and making new friends.”
Pyle, who was playing a 12-string guitar, is a former health law attorney who retired to Crozet a few months ago after leaving his practice in D.C. “We looked all over the country for a place to retire—seriously in Colorado and North Carolina. We couldn’t find any place that had the people that are in Crozet,” he said. “Everybody in Crozet is so encouraging. They say, ‘Try it.’ In D.C. it’s always ‘it can’t be done,’ or ‘it’s been done.’”
After they ran through the Eagles repertoire, culminating in Hotel California, the group went on to Roger Miller’s King of the Road, then Arlo Guthrie’s The City of New Orleans and then Crosby, Stills and Nash’s Teach Your Children.
“It’s been a blast so far. We’re likely to out-grow our space,” admitted Pyle. “The purpose is to have people of any skill level enjoy music. We invite everyone.
“We would like to build a good core [of players] who can really play well and can carry the music.” He pointed out Brian Foster, who was playing a Gibson guitar made around 1950 and flat-picking. “We’ll probably migrate to amplified in April. In the summer we’ll move it outside. There’s a huge interest in the community.”
Pyle does the arrangements and is compiling a songbook in a loose-leaf binder. “We’re building a library of songs. It will just get bigger and bigger and we’ll be able to do requests.”
Pyle grew up in Shadwell, graduated from Albemarle High School and went to U.Va. before law school at the University of Tennessee.
“This grew out of sessions I had with my brother at Lake Albemarle [when Pyle was in college]. We’d set up amps and string lights and we put out an invitation to U.Va. It was such a blast.”