Community Jams

At LEFF you’ll find plenty of opportunities to play music with others, in informal pop-up jams or organized sessions lead by knowledgeable performers.

Besides the scheduled jams, Jammers are welcome to play in other locations as long as they are considerate and don’t block halls, stairways or exits.

Feel like being a part of an organized jam?  Check out one of the sessions below.

Old-Time Jam at a former Lake Erie Folk Fest. Photo by Jen Hearn

2024 Jam Sessions

Old Time Jam (Beg/Int)

Joel Specht, Erin Johnson, Bill Braun

1pm • Room 201

One of the most precious aspects of Old Time music is passing the traditions to the younger generations. This is a chance to participate in that process by joining our second LEFF Youth Jam led by our Hawken Youth Jam students. We will play some straightforward tunes with few chord changes, and make sure our pace in inclusive to all. A tune list resource page is available to download in case it is helpful.

Joel Specht
Erin Thomas
Erin Thomas
Bill Braun
Bill Braun

Joel Specht is a fretless clawhammerer and an old time fiddler with twenty-six years of playing experience. The foundation of his rhythm and funk comes from 11 years of percussion performance during high school and college, and an eclectic listening playlist. This mild mannered D&D enthusiast has a day job as a fifth grade math and science teacher with the Conneaut City Schools.

Erin Thomas began her musical journey composing, singing, and playing piano. Old Time music stole her heart and she began learning fiddle, mandolin, baritone ukulele, a bit of banjo. She works at Hawken school as the Assistant Director of the Middle School and teaches art, also running ErinEccentric Original Art and playing in the Piney Mountain Stringband with her friend Bill Braun.

Irish Seisiun 

Maureen Conway Reich & Mary Ann Beach

2pm • Room 201

Join Maureen and Mary Ann as they lead a traditional seisiun.  Bring your instrument and play along, offer your favorite set of tunes, or sit back and enjoy listening to a great mix of Irish tunes including some rollicking reels and lively jigs!

Maureen Conway Reich
Maureen Conway Reich
Mary Ann Beach
Mary Ann Beach

Maureen Conway Reich is the fiddler for the Celtic Roots band Ballinloch. Her love for Irish tradition came from growing up in an Irish household surrounded by music and song. 

Maureen welcomes all traditional musicians to join the LEFF Irish music seisiun, whether you know one tune or 100!

Video: Lonesome Boatman/O’Neill’s March

Mary Ann Beach is a flute and whistle player from Akron, Ohio. She grew up with her musician father, Gordon Shaffer and siblings who also performed. She currently leads a traditional Irish session at the Rialto Theater in Akron Ohio the first Tuesday of every month from 7 to 9pm.

Bob Miller Memorial Jam (Int/Adv)  

Ken Roby, Village Blacksmith, Bill Braun, Lynn Frederick, Barb Withee, Jim Richards and many more hooligans!

3:45pm • Room 201

For jammers who want to just want to dig in and rip some tunes so people can watch and enjoy and be inspired (without having to seek us out in dark rooms and alleys)! A demo and inspirational jam, intended to encourage less experienced folks to keep at it, not to get frustrated with learning. Not a closed jam, but a more experienced full speed jam. 

Robert A. Miller, PhD, of Brecksville, passed away quietly at home after a long and courageous battle with ALS disease on December 4, 2023. He was 76 years old.

Bob was born in Youngstown, Ohio the son of Alden and Peggy Miller. He grew up in Girard, Ohio and was a 1965 graduate of Girard High School. Bob received his Bachelor of Science degree in Inorganic Chemistry from Youngstown State University and earned his PhD in Physical Chemistry from Case Western Reserve University.

After completing his doctorate, Bob began a 43-year career at NASA-Glenn Research Center in Cleveland. While at NASA, Bob conducted ground-breaking research into Thermal Barrier Coatings (TBSs), which at the time, had only begun to be considered for protecting components in turbines and advanced combustors. Through his research, Bob published a wide variety of primary references that helped grow the TBC industry into the important industry it is today.

A disciplined and rigorous researcher, Bob authored or co-authored over 150 research papers and held 15 patents. His work continues to be extensively cited globally with thousands of citations in “Google” scholar.

While at NASA, Bob received the “Exceptional Engineering Achievement Medal”, the Abe Silverstein Medal for Outstanding Research and several other research awards. After retiring from NASA in 2013, Bob continued to serve as a part-time researcher until 2019. As a testament to his contributions to the Coating’s industry, Bob was inducted into the international “Thermal Spray Society” Hall of Fame in 2020.

One of Bob’s greatest loves in life was music, especially “old time” music which served as the precursor to “blue grass”. He was an accomplished mandolin, banjo and guitar player and loved playing with his friends in the “White House Brothers” band over the years.

The band “played gigs” all over the Cleveland area as well as a variety of music festivals and fiddle conventions in Ohio and nearby states. Bob put the same energy and passion into his music that he put into his research, and he played until he was no longer able due to illness.

Bluegrass Jam

The Sugar Mules

5pm • Room 201

The Sugar Mules
Sugar Mules

Piedmont Blues: Ragtime to Rock

Charlie Mosbrook & Mark Freeman

5pm • Room 301

Charlie Mosbrook
Mark Freeman
Mark Freeman


Lake Erie Folk Fest logoNortheast Ohio Musical Heritage Association
10848 Chillicothe Rd.
Kirtland, OH 44094

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