What Is Fife Mojo?
Fife Mojo, Inc. is a corporation, founded in Virginia in summer 2006, which wants to be a fife and drum corps when it grows up — but kinda doesn’t want to grow up. It will also be a non-profit someday, if and when its president gets the paperwork done. Right now it has no funds, but sponsors occasional fun, free events to bring together fifers and drummers and propagate, you know, that whole F&D thing.
What Does Fife Mojo Do?
Basically we (and by “we,” I mean “I”) sponsor free jams, once a month, thanks to the generosity of the Colonial Williamsburg Fifes and Drums, which allows us to use their building free of charge. We are otherwise unaffiliated with the CW corps—or in fact with any corps. Our jams are open to anyone. (If there’s ever any trouble, we reserve the right to ask individuals to leave or not to attend—but we don’t anticipate that will be a problem because fifers and drummers are all great people. Aren’t they? … I said… aren’t they?)
Maybe someday we’ll sponsor bigger jams, like with pizza and sodas, or even road trips to other jams or musters. Depends on the interest, who plans to show up, and/or who will donate gas money.
What Are These “Jams” Like?
Just what you’d expect: people show up with their instruments and jam.*
Just for attending, you win a free pair of Fife Mojo earplugs, which come on a cord and feature hot-rod flames. See? What could possibly top this?!
*CW alumni interested in using CW drums may contact the CW F&D director ahead of time to request permission. If you don’t know who that is or how to contact him/her, email me and find out.
The jams differ in some ways from traditional F&D jams:
1) You can bring music or notation if you want.
2) To avoid playing endless monthly repetitions of Harum Scarum and Downfall of Paris, there are Tunes of the Month.
Tunes of the Month (TOTM)
They’re optional—but they allow everyone to stretch and learn something new. They also make jams more interesting. Suggestions for TOTM are welcome!
Attention fifers with a penchant for the esoteric: kindly remember that drummers like to play new stuff too. If your tune doesn’t have a drumbeat to go with it, at least suggest something drummers could play that would fit. Or, team up with a drummer buddy and make something up.
Past Tunes of the Month
Miss Susan Cooper
Governor’s Island Quickstep
Peeler’s Pink Phyfes
American Patrol/The Red, White and Blue
The Black Pearl
Barren Rocks of Aden
Where Are the Jams Held?
They’re currently held at the Colonial Williamsburg Fifes and Drums building on Franklin Street in Williamsburg, which features:
drum pads installed along one wall, with mirrors
bathrooms (indoor plumbing rocks!)
Occasionally, if the corps needs the main room, we’ll be asked to use a relatively sound-proof side room.
Are They Any Good? (a.k.a., “I heard those jams were lame.”)
We’re approaching our first anniversary, and so far the jams have been pretty small, with something like 20-22 unique attendees, not all at the same time. We have never jammed for less than two hours, and playing loud music for two hours with new people is always worthwhile. A good, big jam requires lots of people spreading the word and encouraging their friends to attend. We cannot make people come—or even just ask them to—if we do not know who they are or how to contact them. So sign up, and tell your friends to sign up, on the JamList! Go here.
In our second year, our goals are
to continue to sponsor monthly jams (thanks to the generosity of the Colonial Williamsburg Fifes and Drums)
to use the new mailing list as a way for “regulars” to keep in touch, to facilitate jam scheduling to accommodate the most attendees, and to encourage new friends to introduce themselves
to plan at least one large jam session per year, ideally featuring workshops and other incentives for out-of-town corps to make the trip (the first one will be in January 2008)
and finally—hang onto your hat if you’re wearing one—to field a corps at the Deep River Ancient Muster in 2008
Why Have a Large Jam? (a.k.a. “Won’t that take money?”)
Yes. Do you have any to spare? (Someday, when my nonprofit paperwork is done, I’ll put a PayPal donation link here. I’m reluctant to officially solicit for funds before that’s legally squared away… but be forewarned!)
to attract folks who can’t come regularly because of scheduling or distance
to liven a dark and cold time of year (midwinter) with loud music
to wake people from post-holiday ennui
to make a whole lotta noise
to give out free earplugs
Are You Crazy?
This is how I get to play with and learn from other musicians. Many thanks to the folks in the following corps who have invited me to play with them and been great friends!