Phipps Store’s sixth annual Breakin’ up Christmas jam was standing room only Friday night, with picking room at a premium, and dancing room mostly out of the question.
Phipps proprietor, James “Dawg” Woods, said the gathering has gotten a bit bigger each year, and estimated that as many as 200 came out for the up-county musical event of the season, which sometimes goes until 3 a.m.
According to Woods, “breakin’ up Christmas” is a term for an old mountain tradition of households in a community sharing the chores and expenses of holiday hosting.
“During old Christmas, every night they’d go from cabin to cabin, take out the furniture, and they’d have a big eat and a frolic,” he said.
Vittles were on hand. Highlights included a unique green bean-cashew dish, some pretty good pulled pork, and a sliced Vannoy ham — soaked for a day and baked covered for six hours — which dwarfed all of human achievement.
Breakin’ up Christmas was itself broken up. With Phipps filled to capacity, a second jam, which usually gathers outside in front of the store in warmer weather, filled Wood’s neighboring home with players and listeners cheek-by-jowl.
Musical genres were Bluegrass and Old Timey, with jigs, waltzes, reels and rags filing continuous sets by the hour. Rotating ensembles featured the conspicuous talents of Phipps regulars Larry Blevins, Greg Blevins, Billy Mains, Stu Geisbert and young banjo virtuosos Brandy Miller and Austin Greer, among others.
The event is billed the same as Phipps’ year-round Friday Night Jam sessions: mountain string music only. But a squeezebox and its squeezer were not turned away.
Also like the Friday Night Jams, the event is an all-ages, family-friendly affair, and no alcohol is served or permitted, Woods said.
Phipps Store is located at 2425 Silas Creek Road, Lansing. For information call: (336)384-2382.