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Winter Park / Maitland Observer Friday, Jul. 14, 2017 4 months ago

Winter Park family starts up an open jam session

If you have ever had the desire to play with other musicians, well here's your chance.
by: Troy Herring Associate Editor

There’s nothing quite like playing music with others, and for some musicians, that opportunity doesn’t happen often.

If you’re looking for musicians to play with, there’s good news: Winter Park soon will have a new place for you to jam.

Thanks to the Seel family of Winter Park, musicians from around the area will have the chance to participate in an open jam session July 20 at the Winter Park Community Center.

“There is a big difference between just practicing at home in your bedroom and playing live music with a drummer, a bass player, and a real singer — it makes it sound so much better and is so much more enjoyable,” said Larry Seel. “You can only do so much playing along with records or practicing on your own. It’s just fun and very helpful to your learning to get to play with other musicians.”

While his wife, Bethanne, isn’t a musician, Larry and their sons — Gregory, Nolan, and Griffin — have been playing music for years. Their daughter, Lindsay, also plays music.

Larry has been playing guitar for a while now, and his kids grew up surrounded by music. Gregory picked up the saxophone and a few other instruments, Nolan enjoys the organ, while Griffin plays the violin.

The concept of an open jam night was largely inspired by personal experiences. The biggest issue the family faced as musicians in Winter Park was that there wasn’t a local place to play.

“Gregory and I have played at various open-mic and music jams at bars and restaurants, and different places around town, and we have always enjoyed getting together with other musicians to play,” Larry said. “But not around town here. It was always in Sanford or Longwood.”

“We go to the one in Sanford most frequently, so it being 45 minutes to and from — we just wanted something a little closer,” Gregory said.

A part of that problem, too, was that the closer places, especially bars, are not kid friendly places where families can enjoy music.

After a year of sitting on the idea to start up an open jam session, the Seel family approached the city of Winter Park around a month ago to discuss plans and see if there was any space where they could hold the event.

Larry, Bethanne, and Gregory all met with Parks & Recreation Manager Jason Seeley at the community center

“We have the outdoor amphitheater on the back of the facility, so it just seemed like it would make sense for the community center to work with one of our residents and offer this type of program,” Seeley said. “We are really just helping them with marketing and giving them space to do it — no one is making any money; there are no fees. It was a win-win opportunity to give our local musicians of all ages a place to come out and perform, and also our residents to come out and take it in.”

For the Seels, the program is not only about giving musicians a chance to play, but also about bringing the community together. 

“A big part of it is bringing people together through music,” Larry said. “Gregory and I certainly have met people we never would have run across in the course of our everyday lives through music. Music is good for your soul and your spirit … it’s just an opportunity to have a good time.”


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