After years of research, legal maneuverings, and clandestine message drops, I finally secured an interview with one of the most shadowy, yet ubiquitous figures in Bluegrass: The JamBuster.
You all know him, by his habits, if not by his appearance. He’s the guy who causes circle jams at festivals to disintegrate, like a drop of vegetable oil on a foamy pot of boiling water. Here, for the first time, we have a first-person account of what makes this guy tick….but he was careful not to reveal his motives…
JamBuster: There are a number of tricks, really. Every jam is a little different, so different techniques may be required. One of the most effective is the Tune Nobody Knows. This tune is not only a mystery to everybody in the circle, it has no less than 11 chords, and arrangement is so complicated, nobody ever gets comfortable. Also, I make sure there are a lot of verses, and I never play the chord pattern quite the same way twice. It’s quite impossible to follow. When I call the Tune That Nobody Knows, everyone starts to realize how late it is, and how they have pressing business elsewhere.
BC: Yeah, but people are stubborn – that trick can’t work all the time.
JamBuster: No trick works all the time. If the Tune That Nobody Knows doesn’t work, I have other strategies. There’s Loud Out Of Tune Harmonies, for example. That one is fun. I lustily sing tenor or baritone harmonies that are louder than anybody else in the circle, and make sure my pitch is a little off. That will sometimes break up multiple jams at once! <