Old Time, A Good Time – Tractor Tune Up


Happy Monday, Beer Farmers. Happy Mondays always end with music in Nob Hill. Today, we take some time to talk about the Tune Up – a long time show, with a new name, and the same genuine approach to creating a warm and casual, musical, atmosphere in our Nob Hill tap room. The guest blog we have for you today, is written by Jane Phillips, one of the organizers of the Tractor Tune Up, and long time member of the Virginia Creepers. Jane waxes poetic on the Monday night vibe at Tractor Nob Hill for a little bit of “Funk,” on your Monday. Enjoy! 

If you’ve ever walked into the Nob Hill taproom on a Monday evening, and wondered what was up with all the banjos and fiddles, here’s your answer.

Every Monday for over two years now, Tractor Brewing in Nob Hill has been home to an old-time jam, hosted by a local band, the Virginia Creepers (or a subset thereof, depending on the week).

Old-time music is a style often associated with Appalachia, but forms of it cropped up all over. It’s the sort of home-grown music people used to play on their porches back before radio and TV. Typical instruments for old-time music are fiddles, banjos, guitars, mandolins, and if we’re lucky, an upright bass.

Bluegrass grew from this traditional music, and developed a showier style that appealed to radio (and live) audiences. Old-time retains the back-porch feel of everyone playing together, rather than taking solo breaks, as is common in bluegrass. It’s a participatory, community kind of music. You don’t need to be a virtuoso to join in an old-time jam. Just pull up a chair and play along. If you’re new to the style or don’t know the tunes, you can still pull up a chair and listen until the tune starts to grow on you. Tunes are played over and over so you have some time to let them sink in. Beer can help with that. Tractor’s got a great selection of helpful beers.

A lot of old-time jams, including the Monday night jam at Tractor, are not “round robin” style, where everyone takes turns picking a tune, going around the circle. Instead, the melody players (usually fiddlers, mando players, or brave banjo players) generally pick the tunes, with random input from the others present. It’s a little more organic and spontaneous this way.

We start around 7:30 pm and play until 10 pm, or later if night-owls without day jobs are still there. You can find us in the front corner, right by the door. Listeners are always welcome, as are acoustic instruments.

Tractor has been a supportive host to our jam, and we sure do appreciate them letting us take over the corner every week to fill the space with our special kind of twang. I first got connected to the folks at Tractor a few years ago via my involvement with Tricklock Theatre Company, where they have some deep roots. It’s not just every establishment that answers the question “Hey, whaddya think about having an old-time jam at the taproom? Like, every week?” with “Sure! That sounds like fun!” Thanks, Tractor. You’re swell.

For more info: There’s a lot of information about old-time music on the new-fangled internet. Stop by oldtimeabq.com to find out about old-time music, bands, concerts, and other events in the ABQ area, and see lists of tunes we play at the Tractor jam aka the “Tune Up.”