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Sample this new ‘jam’ at River Falls farmer’s market

A group of musicians comes together for an Old Time Jam Saturdays at the Farmer’s Market. Anyone is welcome to join in, so the people playing any given weekend may be different. Shown last Saturday, from left: Ann Patten Larson, Tom Schreiber, Bruce Mann, Brian Mulrooney, Ben Toppel, John Timmerman. Chris and Ari Silver (not pictured) also showed up to play that day. (River Falls Journal photos by Gretta Stark)1 / 5
Brian Mulrooney (left), Ben Toppel (center) and John Timmerman (right) pick out some “old-time music” on banjos and a guitar -- some of many instruments Old Time Jam players used Saturday at the Farmer’s Market.2 / 5
The Old Time Jam players brought chairs and formed a circle, in which they played their foot-tapping tunes at the Farmer’s Market Saturday. From left: Tom Schreiber, Bruce Mann, Ben Toeppel, Brian Mulrooney, and John Timmerman.3 / 5
Musicians bring a wide variety of instruments to the Farmer’s Market each week, form violins and guitars to accordions and spoons. From left: Eric Hatling, Ann Patten Larson and Tom Schreiber.4 / 5
Shown, from left, Tom Rauch, Eric Hatling, Ann Patten Larson play some music at the Farmer’s Market Saturday with the Old Time Jam.5 / 5

For years River Falls residents have gone to the Farmer’s Market on Second and Locust streets for a taste of locally grown produce.

Lately that market is producing more than just tasty food.

Starting last year, a group of ever-changing, local musicians has gathered every Saturday morning to treat Farmer’s Market-goers to some tunes.

“It’s a great community event,” said Ben Toppel, one of the musicians. “Put that with the Farmer’s Market which is... and you’ve got just a great community event happening every Saturday morning.”

While the group has several core members that like to show up and play “Old Time Music,” Toppel said it’s an open jam, so anyone can play along -- whether a master musician or a beginner.

All a person needs is an instrument and a chair to sit on. Or just a pair of kitchen spoons.

“There’s free lessons online,” Toppel said. “I just looked it up, found a teacher I liked, took a couple lessons and brought them to the jam.”

Toppel also plays banjo and guitar.

Toppel said usually between five and nine musicians show up. They bring a variety of instruments: Fiddles, guitars, banjos, upright bass, mountain dulcimer, mandolins, tenor banjo, harmonica, accordions, ukuleles, washboard, and kitchen spoons.

But those with no instruments can also join in.

“There’s a lot of singing,” Toppel said. “It fluctuates between tunes -- which are just songs that area played instrumentally -- and we have... a lot of people will sing on the songs.”

“Old time music” includes waltzes, and reels -- the type of music one might hear at a barn dance, Toppel said.

The Farmer’s Market is open 8 a.m. to noon Saturdays, but the musicians don’t start until 9 a.m. Toppel said anyone is welcome to drop by with an instrument and play.

For the complete story, please see the July 10 print edition of the River Falls Journal.

Gretta Stark

Gretta Stark has been a reporter for the River Falls Journal since July of 2013. She previously worked as a reporter for the New Richmond News from June 2012 to July 2013. She holds a BA in Print and Electronic Media from Wartburg College.

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