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BEST PLACE TO HEAR BLUEGRASS Minneapolis 1999 -

The first thing you'll notice about the Homestead Pickin' Parlor is that it looks damn down-home despite its Richfield strip-mall surroundings. Once inside the shop's cozy environs, which are stocked with the best and latest in bluegrass recordings, you'll find a wide selection of jam sessions on many weekday nights and weekend afternoons, including a gathering for advanced players Saturdays at 3:00 p.m. where the speed limit is only defined as "reasonable and proper." Gene Walton invites beginner- and intermediate-level players to hone technique at 7:00 p.m. the second and fourth Tuesday of every month or alternate Wednesdays. Folk, Cajun, and flatpicking jams are also regularly scheduled, and a Sunday free-for-all allows those in attendance to pick the musical genre du jour. Remember, it's fine to watch or join any session, but if you plan to play, stick to your skill level, and be sure to bone up on jam etiquette (don't disrupt the tunes!). If you have a yearning to pick up the banjo or fiddle and join the fun, Homestead keeps an all-star roster of teachers who'll have you picking in no time.

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