HAZEN - Once a month from spring to fall, the Hazen City Hall turns into a music hall, with old time, gospel, country, and other tunes filling the building.
The Hazen Jam Sessions draw in musicians, singers and other entertainers from around the area as well as Minot, Bismarck, Dickinson, Canada and other places. The entertainers range in age from 4 to 95.
And they pack in large crowds into the City Hall anywhere from 300 to 450 people who come there to watch the three or four hours of entertainment.
Eloise Ogden/MDN • Alice Neuberger, center, Bismarck, formerly of Hazen, and her late husband, Shirley, started the Hazen Jam Sessions 13 years ago. She is shown here with some of the musicians at the Sept. 2 event. From the left are Gilbert Ost of Beulah, Orlin Larson of Washburn, Neuberger, Jane Opdahl of Zap and Delores Hensel of Bismarck.
Eloise Ogden/MDN • 95-year-old Rudy Hildebrand, of Hazen, gets ready to read a poem at the Hazen Jam Session Sept. 2.Hildebrand is a regular at the jam sessions that draw from 300 to 450 people.
Submitted Photo • Grandchildren of Ron and Sharron Crowley are some of the youngest performers at the Hazen Jam Session. They are shown here at the Aug. 5 jam session. From the left are Ron Crowley, Madelen Wick, 11, Minot, Abigail Nelson, 9, Mandan, and Corbin Wick, back right, 12, Minot.
Eloise Ogden/MDN • Ralph Schultz, who moved to Hazen recently from Fredonia, sings “Folsom Prison Blues” at the Hazen Jam Session Sept. 2. He also played accordion at the event.
Eloise Ogden/MDN • Pauline Maynard, left, of Wilton, sings a song. Ron Crowley, right, and other musicians accompany her at the September Hazen Jam Session in the Hazen City Hall. Crowley is the host of the event. In the background at the right is Otto Voegele, of Beulah, who has been at almost all the jam sessions since they started.
"They absolutely fill that auditorium," said Carol Frank, of Garrison, who attends the jam sessions.
"It's so enjoyable," said Bobbie Johnson, Frank's niece, also of Garrison.
The two women are among a group from Garrison that uses the shuttle bus from Garrison to bring people from that community to the monthly jam sessions. Shuttle buses from other communities including Hebron and New Salem also bring visitors to the jam sessions.
The next Hazen Jam Session will be held Sunday, Oct. 14, beginning at 6 p.m. in the Hazen City Hall. The jam session is being held in conjunction with a benefit fleischkuechle supper for Paiton Delday, 15, son of Wade and Dorinda Unterseher, of Hazen. Paiton has brain cancer. Supper will begin at 4 p.m. and is sponsored by the Hazen Lions.
For more information about the jam sessions call Ron Crowley, of Hazen, at 748-2199.
The musicians and other entertainers can give a solo performance if they wish, or they can perform with the other musicians. Other entertainers will help them if they need some assistance.
At the August jam session, about 30 people performed.
At the most recent jam session Sunday, Sept. 2, about 20 people entertained, including musicians and singers. There was other entertainment, too.
Ninety-five-year-old Rudy Hildebrand, of Hazen, a regular at the jam sessions, read a couple poems to the audience.
Kathy Herchert, of Wilton, told some jokes.
The late Shirley Neuberger and his wife, Alice Neuberger, Bismarck, formerly of Hazen, started the jam sessions. Shirley Neuberger enjoyed music, especially playing his accordion and playing at jam sessions.
Alice Neuberger, who played guitar and sang at the Sept. 2 jam session, said it was 13 years ago when they began the jam sessions. Her brother, Ivan Dschaak, of Beulah, also was at the Sept. 2 session playing drums.
When the Neubergers moved to Bismarck, they asked Ron Crowley, of Hazen, if he would take over as host of the jam sessions. That was in 2010. Crowley, who is retired and now part time Veterans Service officer for Mercer County, emcees the jam sessions and coordinates the activities.
The Crowleys Ron, his wife Sharron, and their family are music enthusiasts. Their 11-year-old granddaughter, Madelen Wick, Minot, takes part in the jam sessions. "She has sang at the Jam every year since she was 4," Ron Crowley said. Her brother, Corbin, 12, also played guitar at the August jam session. Both students at Ramstad Middle School, their parents are Kristen and Dave Wick. Their mother also sang a song with Madelen. Their cousin, Abby Nelson, 9, daughter Andrea and Dave Nelson, Mandan, also performed at the August jam session.
The Crowleys said the jam sessions first were held in a smaller room in City Hall but it outgrew the area and now the crowd fills the big meeting room.
On Sept. 2, musicians played numerous instruments, including accordion, guitar, drums, violin, double piano, piano, harmonica, tambourine and spoons. Some sang while they played their instrument and some people just sang.
Clarence and Ardella Wiedrich, of Hazen, were honored that day, in recognition of their 60th wedding anniversary. Alice Neuberger said the Wiedrichs have been helping with the jam sessions since the beginning.
The Wiedrich family provided cake for the crowd during the half-time break. Grandchildren modeled Clarence's military uniform and Ardella's wedding dress for the audience.
Normally coffee and cookies are provided during the break. Cenex makes the cookies and various businesses donate them.
The jam sessions are free to the public. .
This year's jam sessions conclude with the October event scheduled for Sunday, Oct. 14. Jam sessions will resume in May 2013 and will be every first Sunday of the month through October 2013.
"People love the music. It's a universal language," said Sharron Crowley.