Jam nights bring Bluegrass to Bowling Green

Stephanie Jessie

Jimmy Nalley started the Bluegrass jam that takes place in Bowling Green every Thursday night when his now 18-year-old daughter, Mary Rachel, began playing fiddle at age 11. 

Bowling Green Bluegrass Jams, which started off as a few friends with some pizza at the local KOA campground, has since grown into a 150-person weekly crowd, forcing the group to move to its current location at the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge No. 13, off Corvette Drive.

“We’re the only Bluegrass union I know of in Bowling Green,” Nalley, the main operator of Bluegrass Jams, said.

A typical night shows musicians gathered in a circle, playing whatever comes to mind. Singers step up and the instruments accompany. Fiddles, banjos, basses and guitars are strummed by professionals and hobbyists in the jubilee. 

“We just have fun,” Robert Gilbert said. 

Gilbert began going to the jams near the start eight years ago and still plays his guitar with the group regularly.  

“It’s fast-paced. People dance. They get out there and dance across (the floor),” he said.

Those who want to add to the night’s festivities without an instrument in hand bring in dishes of homemade desserts for everyone to enjoy, giving what Nalley describes as a “Thanksgivin’ feast” to those in attendance.

“They make ya feel good,” Gilbert said. “They make ya feel welcome.” 

Word about Bluegrass jam nights has traveled throughout the eight years of its existence. The group finds visitors often pop in to see what the fuss is all about.

“You don’t never know whose gonna show,” Nalley said. 

The jam begins at 5:30 p.m. every Thursday and is known to last well after midnight.

“It’s a good, safe place to come,” Nalley said. “We don’t have the liquor and we don’t have the smoking. It’s a family-friendly place. The people that participate, they keep coming back and they keep coming back for a reason and that reason is it’s a good, safe place to come.”