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'Fiddling' with fun

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Jimmy Melton, Denver Jesse and Ed Blevins (left to right) blend their musical talents with a band of others Monday night during another bluegrass music event at Baker Park. Bluegrass music is featured from 6 to 9 p.m. each Monday through the second week of October.
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Alayna Whitkinack, a teen from Paris, Ill., joins New Castle’s Derek Carrera in showing the older bluegrass musicians what the youth can do during Monday’s event at Baker Park.

By DARREL RADFORD - dradford@thecouriertimes.com

They come from Hartford City, Anderson, Greenfield, Muncie and more. They bring their banjos, upright basses, fiddles and guitars. Each Monday night, Baker Park comes alive with bluegrass music.

And for a little while, no one has a care in the world.

“All these people come for one reason,” New Castle’s Bruce Roberts said. “To forget about everything else.”

Beginning in May and continuing through the second Monday of October, it is the ultimate jam session. There are no sheets of music, no real order of songs to be played. The musicians just feed off of each other.

“We just like to play music and have fun,” Jimmy Melton said.

“I’ve had as many as 17, 18 players on a Monday night,” Roberts added. “Actually, it’s just one big family.”

Before the music began this past Monday, all the musicians and their family of fans did what close families do – enjoyed a pitch-in meal together.

Roberts and his mother, Jerrie, have been coordinating the bluegrass sessions for more than a decade.

“It’s been very good for me,” Jerrie said. “I’ve met some lady friends. We go out to eat. It’s been very nice, since I lost my husband a few years ago after 46 years of marriage.”

There is no such thing as a generation gap with bluegrass music. Monday’s activities featured senior citizens dancing and teenagers playing. Carolyn Jefferis and Jeaneta Neal entertained the crowd with their dance moves at times during the music.

Meanwhile, New Castle’s Derek Carrera joined girlfriend Alayna Whitkinack up front playing alongside many of the older men in the group. Whitkinack came all the way from Paris, Ill. to play her fiddle alongside Carrera’s banjo.

“One of the things we’ve learned, no matter if it’s here or other places, is that a lot of the older generation welcome the young people because they are the ones who will carry on this tradition,” said Chris Carrera, Derek’s dad. “It’s neat to see them blend together and get along so well.”

Everyone in the community is invited to come and watch the musicians. The group is also looking for an indoor venue to continue these gatherings through the winter months. Anyone with suggestions is encouraged to call Merry Melton at 765-620-7564.