Down at the Idiot Jam - Trust Me Shops

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Down at the Idiot Jam

Down at the Idiot Jam

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What happens when members of an online guitar discussion forum decide to break the physical boundaries of the Web and meet in person to play music? A gathering called Idiot Jam, that’s what. I had watched it from afar since its inception, in 2006, but the first time I could attend was in 2016. I flew from LaGuardia Airport to Midway, in Chicago, and was dutifully retrieved by my hosts, LJ Mattingly and his wife, Barb, whose gracious hospitality I have enjoyed several times during our 20-year friendship. LJ and I are members of “The Soundhole,” an online guitar discussion forum; we might never have become friends but for the small-world nature of the Internet.

After a pleasant afternoon and evening, a delicious dinner, and some guitar picking, we packed up LJ’s SUV with gear and snacks the next morning and set the GPS for Vinton, Iowa, about a four-and-a-half-hour trip due west. We drove across Illinois, traversed the Mississippi River on a bridge, and entered Iowa; for me, a strange new landscape that featured many miles of corn beneath a very big sky.

Above photograph: Marshall Hjertstedt strums a vintage Harmony Rocket at the Depot; Marty Reynolds checks his messages; and Roger Anderson examines the Harmony’s original case.

Photographs © Howard Gotfryd unless noted otherwise

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