The Whoever Can Come Band played in one of their many jam sessions Saturday at the Barnes County Historical Society Museum. The band, as the name suggests, allows whoever can come to jam with them every other Saturday.
“It’s just a group of people that get together because they enjoy having jam sessions with each other, just jamming and playing music,” coordinator Mel Olstad said. “It’s been in existence for a number of years now, I would guess probably at least a dozen years.”
The group of musicians includes people from all around the area, including Valley City, Jamestown and Hannaford, who all come together for the love of playing music.
“We just get together and enjoy playing,” Olstad said.
The group, which plays a lot of “older-style music,” including country and polka, doesn’t have a fixed membership, and anybody can show up and play.
He said it’s a funny story how the group got its name. According to Olstad, a reporter from the Times-Record had gone to the museum to take photos of the group and asked someone what the name of the band was. The gentleman replied, “Well, it’s whoever can come.”
“Ever since that, we’ve been called the Whoever Can Come Band,” Olstad said.
A jam session is different than an organized concert because “you don’t have any set lists of songs to play,” Olstad said. “When we show up to perform, we don’t have any idea what to play until someone starts.”
“You don’t have a song that you have to learn. If you can join in, fine, if you can’t, you can listen while the rest of them play,” he said, adding, “it’s the kind of music I enjoy the most personally.”
Olstad, who plays the guitar and banjo, said the group usually has an accordion player, sometimes a drummer and “guitars are probably the most common instruments.”
“Once in a while someone will show up and play the mandolin,” he said.
The group tries to get together every other Saturday afternoon at the museum, and they periodically play other places as well.
“Sometimes, we’ll have a get together because it’s somebody’s birthday or anniversary,” Olstad said. “And we play at the Senior Center about three times a year or so.”
Olstad said playing at the museum works out well for the group and museum curator Wes Anderson, who does not play in the band himself.
“He likes to have us there to get people in the museum, and we enjoy it because it’s a place where we can go and jam without having to rent a facility.”