Jam Session Info



CORONAVIRUS UPDATE! These sessions are now closed to the public. Hopefully, if and when they can reopen, I will post it here.

It has been possible for us to have safe private music jam sessions with small groups. If you arrange your own jam, the following guidelines are suggested:
– Limit the number of participating musicians. Local sessions have been three to six.
– Play outdoors if possible. We’ve used carports, pavilions, and shade trees.  If necessary, use indoor locations that are large and well ventilated.
– Use face masks.
– Space everyone six feet apart. A circle works nicely.
– Avoid singing as much as possible. It is safer to have instrumental music only. And limit the use of wind instruments.

The above recommendations will remain until West Virginia pandemic restrictions and guidelines are removed or changed.


This page is devoted to information for the Thursday evening music sessions at O’Hurley’s General Store in Shepherdstown, West Virginia. Sessions generally start at 7:30 PM and end around 9:30 or 10:00. It is open to the public; you can come to listen or bring an acoustic instrument and play with the musicians. However, this is not necessarily a recommendation to attend. It is often overcrowded, and the music and experience are better when it is not.

The purpose of Thursday Music at O’Hurley’s is to continue the tradition of people gathering informally to play and sing traditional folk and dance music for fun. Store owner Jay Hurley welcomes musicians to have fun and make yourself at home. Ask your neighbor for any wants. There are a few simple rules:

  • Play acoustic instruments only. Please leave your instrument case in the adjacent room.
  • Sit in one of the brown folding chairs in the central circle if you want to play.
  • You get to pick a tune once around the circle. It can be a solo, or you can lead the group. Or you may request that someone else play a tune.
  • You may play only tunes that are public domain, unregistered, or for which the Store has written permission from the composer. If you need help picking a tune when it is your turn to choose, ask to look at Jay’s Master List of tunes that are safe to play. You may do an original composition of yours. You may introduce a new tune if you have a copy of it for Jay’s records along with its provenance verifying public domain.

It can be difficult to determine which tunes and songs qualify, so this page is meant to help a little. For liability reasons, we err on the side of caution. You can assume that registered, copyrighted, off limits tunes will include most popular music, show tunes, and most of the music you learned from movies and recordings. Some familiar songs that many of us assume are old folk songs, like “Happy Birthday,” are actually copyrighted and off limits. We do have our own birthday song, by the way.

There are some resources. For a huge list of public domain tunes, as well as a list of tunes you might think are public domain but are not, go to: http://rockytopconcert.weebly.com/public-domain-songs.html

Tunes published in 19th century books and earlier are fine. Note that O’Hurley’s Store does have permission to use all the original tunes in the Rizzetta Tune Archive on my Sheet Music page. I also hope to eventually post Jay’s Master List of tunes here.

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