Looking back while assessing the present, Bill Landow sounds pleased.
“When I was young, I always wanted to be a folk singer,” he said. “Now that I’m an old guy, I am one.”
Land’s also a songwriter — he estimates he’s penned 120 tunes — and owner of Second Song Musical Instruments at The Old Bag Factory in Goshen. This week, his resume also includes “organizer.”
Landow is helping put together a “Bluegrass and Gospel Jam Session,” set for Friday night at the Bag Factory, 1100 Chicago Ave. It will take place in the Book Exchange in the lower level of the Bag Factory.
The gatherings got started in November. Some people at The Old Bag Factory had wanted an event to tie into downtown Goshen’s First Fridays, Landow indicated.
“I said, ‘Well, we could try to hold a jam session,’” he recalled. So they did, and Landow said the sessions have been a success.
“We get different musicians,” he said. “Some play fiddle or banjo or guitar. I play mandolin and guitar. We’ve got an upright bass for somebody to use.”
Land’s musical history predates the Bag Factory jams; last year, he celebrated 50 years of playing the guitar. He grew up in Chicago, and was involved in the bluegrass scene there when he was in his late 20s and early 30s. When he moved here to work for Crown International, Landow said, “I lost track of all those music people.”
Landow also had a photography business at the American Countryside Farmers Market. Watching musicians perform there was a catalyst for his re-involvement in music.
Now, Landow gathers with like-minded players to perform a music steeped in tradition. It’s also a music that lends itself to budding musicians as well as professionals.
“Bluegrass has a very simple structure,” Landow said, with a steady rhythm and two-, three- or four-chord songs. “...As you grow, the musicianship can get quite advanced. But the song structure is simple.”
Landow indicated the Bag Factory jams lean heavily on the gospel element. Along with bluegrass, Landow has been an enthusiast of that music for decades.
“In gospel, the message is important,” he said. “That speaks for itself.”
If you want to go
The Bluegrass and Gospel Jam Session will take place from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Friday in the Book Exchange, located in the lower level of The Old Bag Factory, 1100 Chicago Ave., Goshen. The event is open to all bluegrass and folk musicians and the general public. Admission is free. For more information, call Bill Landow at 202-5502.