The Grass is Blue – Bluegrass scene grows at the Gravel Bar

Local musicians play together during a Sunday night bluegrass jam at the Gravel Bar in Ennis. Photo by Ben Coulter

The Gravel Bar in Ennis has been hosting bluegrass music jam sessions every Sunday night starting around 5 p.m. It’s a loose format, designed for anyone who wants to come out and listen to the sweet sound of string music.

Local ranch manager and Ennis resident Ed Coyle and wife Katie organized the jam sessions starting a little more than a month ago in hopes bringing out a surprisingly vibrant local bluegrass scene that lies just below the radar.

“We know there’s some bluegrass pickers out there,” he said. “We’re basically just trying to get people to come out of the mountains and out of the woodwork.”

While Coyle plucked away at his banjo, a plethora of other instruments could be heard from outside the bar. Guitars, fiddles, upright bass and even a mandolin all contributed to the melodic bluegrass music floating through the room.

Ed Coyle of Ennis plucks away at his banjo Sunday evening during a bluegrass jam session at the Gravel Bar. Photo by Ben Coulter

Perhaps the best part of the jam session format is the sheer informality of it all. This week, none of the people who showed up to play really even knew each other, but it would be hard to tell by listening to them.

Katie Coyle explains that the magic of the music comes from everyone contributing his or her own unique sound.

“Everybody brings some new songs to the table,” she said. “It’s a great format to meet people. You show up, you know the same songs, and then you sit down and play.”

Even if one doesn’t want to participate in the jam session, it’s still a nice way to kick back and relax with cold refreshment on Sunday evenings. While the bluegrass jam session is relatively new in town, bartender
Travis Roberts says they try to keep it a family oriented setting, even though he admits “it’s gotten insane on Sunday nights before.”

“It gives everybody a chance to come out, and the parents can have a beer and watch some music,” he said.

After a couple hours of jamming out, the impromptu group began to disperse. One man called it a night to get home in time for supper, while another couple packed it up to drive home to Dillon. As he packed up his banjo, Ed Coyle struggled to hide the smile on his face from playing at the banjo strings.

“We want to make it as comfortable as we can” for anyone who wants to come out and play, Coyle said.

“If you need to teach us a song we’re open to that, because that’s the way everybody learns,” he said, adding “The more the merrier.”

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