By Kelsie Thompson
Bath-DeWitt staff writer
Since he was very young, Mike Ross always had a passion for music.
After traveling outside of the area to participate in musical gatherings for a large portion of his life, Ross decided he wanted to share his love for music with the Bath community.
“I’ve been all over the place playing music,” Ross said. “I really wanted to have something like this in my home town.”
Six years ago Ross and a few other Bath residents started the Music Jam, which takes place at the Bath Community Center, 5959 Park Lake Road from 6:30-9 p.m. the third Wednesday of every month.
The Music Jam gives members of the Bath community, as well as anyone in the Greater Lansing area, the opportunity to display their musical talents through instruments, vocals and even dancing.
Although most people who perform at the Music Jam show impressive musical backgrounds, Ross said everyone is welcomed to give it a shot.
“You don’t have to play or sing like people on the radio to be able to get up and perform,” Ross said. “It’s important to enjoy yourself and express yourself through music— if you are brave enough to get up there and perform, we want to hear you.”
In addition to the old country swing/folk music that is featured at the jam, food brought by volunteers and a 50/50 drawing are also important aspects of the event.
Ross said on average, about 30 to 40 people attend the event, with around 20 people performing each time.
“Word got out really fast when we first started,” Ross said. “There was already a (music) community out there— I just didn’t know about it yet.”
Ross said the music jam received a lot of support from the community. Soon after it started, the Bath township bought a sound system that has been stored at the community center ever since.
Bath resident Tom Isanhart said the Music Jam gives people the chance to reminisce about the past and create friendships through music.
“There’s a lot of heritage in this music,” Isanhart said. “This is free entertainment— it gives citizens a sense of belonging in the community.”
Grace Wood, a citizen of St. Johns, Mich. who has been performing throughout the U.S. for many years agrees that the Bath Music Jam is something special to be cherished in the community.
“It keeps people young,” Wood said. “Getting away from home and the friendships you make— it just can’t get any better.”