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

Youth Old Time Jam – Hosted by Erin Thomas, Bill Braun & Joel Specht
1 – 2pm, Room 258

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.

Erin Thomas

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.

Bill Braun

Joel Specht

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.

Irish Seisiun – Hosted by Maureen Conway Reich & Mary Ann Beach 
2:15-3:15, Room 258

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 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

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.

Old-Time Jam – Hosted by Joel Specht, Erin Thomas and Bob Kachurek  
3:30-4:30, Room #258

The Old-Time jam will be led by Joel Specht on banjo, Erin Thomas on fiddle and Bob Kachurek on guitar. We welcome anyone into the jam. If you want to just listen or are looking to join the jam circle, a good time will be had by all. Band member Erin Thomas shared that she has never experienced more kindness and inclusivity than she has with the Old Time community. Come experience it for yourself!

Joel Specht

Erin Thomas

Bob Kachurek

Bob Kachurek has played acoustic guitar since he was in eighth grade. He was introduced to the Old Time music community a few years ago through music jams hosted by Erin Thomas where Joel Specht inspired and encouraged him to learn banjo as well. Bob is a retired middle school science teacher.

Bluegrass Jam – Hosted by Sugar Mules  
4:45-5:45, Room 258

Sugar Mules welcome all levels of musicians and all acoustic instruments to join them in an open bluegrass jam. We will explore the traditional repertoire together. Whether you are just strumming along or ready to show us your chops on a break we can’t wait to play with you!

Sugar Mules is a Cleveland based six piece bluegrass band combining traditional favorites, with originals and new covers to provide an inescapable need to stomp your boots and let loose a holler.

Sugar Mules Website

Video: Mules in the Wild

Sugar Mules




Lake Erie Folk Fest logoShore Cultural Centre
291 E. 222nd Street
Euclid, Ohio 44123


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