Abo’s Pizza is a local favorite every day of the week. But, when Thursday nights roll around, the homegrown pizza shop receives some help from homegrown bluegrass musicians, turning it into a lively music venue. When the tunes start flowing, a bustling hill crowd migrates to Abo’s to enjoy great pizza, beer and bluegrass.
The session is open to all musicians from all levels and musical backgrounds. A variety of age groups who play a variety of instruments participate in the jam. While Abo’s has hosted the jam session for only a year, it has been an ongoing practice in Boulder for several years, migrating locations and constantly changing players, with the exception of a group of older musicians who provide a basis for the jam.
One of the group’s organizers and players, John Ware, a 59-year-old fiddle and guitar player, said he has been jamming with this session since Abo’s started it eight years ago.
“We welcome all levels and have a great time,” Ware said. “We especially love to welcome beginners. We keep playing because we love bluegrass. Abo’s has been great in hosting this and they have the best pizza in town.”
Ware said the jam session started with a group of CU students who called themselves the Buffalo Grass. They began playing at Masa Grill and moved to Sidney’s Cappuccino coffee shop, before migrating to Borders on Pearl Street and continued to play there after its move to the 29th Street Mall location.
Ware and a few other musicians have kept the session alive as it moved into Abo’s and said they are always looking for new musicians to join in on Thursday nights.
Sarah Walls, a 21-year-old senior environmental studies major, said she is an avid bluegrass fan who enjoys the picking while flipping pizzas in the back. She said the bluegrass has been great for business and the restaurant.
“I have friends who pick all the time and have asked them to come in and join,” Walls said. “It brings good energy to the restaurant and is fun and open. Everyone is welcome from all different ages. It’s been great for business.”
As the evening grew and the picking began, the energy that Walls spoke of was apparent. The crowd was loose and friendly without the usual cares that come with eating at a restaurant. The musicians played a variety of tunes, from upbeat songs with fast paced rhythms to soft ballads.
The musicianship and talent within the group was evident when they sang in harmony and traded improvisations. Yet, the most obvious and important aspect of the music was the sheer joy and fun that the musicians displayed. It was clear that they loved to play with one another and fed off of the laid back appeal provided by Abo’s.
Justin Gurss, a 22-year-old senior political science major, said he enjoyed the atmosphere that comes with a bluegrass session.
“I have seen live music here before, but this is a very homely vibe,” Gurss said. “It’s very authentic.”
Contact CU Independent Staff Writer Davis Brown at firstname.lastname@example.org.