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'Anybody can come play with us'
From left, Dianne Whitney, Gloria Blaser, Deb Thompson, LouAnn Hanson and Kathy Whitaker jam with the Junction Jammers at the Junction House on Wednesday. (Times photo: Marissa Weiher) To order this photo, click here.
MONROE - What began as rehearsal for the 100 Accordions, an event that brought more than 100 accordion players together to play the Cheese Days song at the 2014 Cheese Days festival, has turned into a weekly jam session.

Kris McGinnis of Monroe didn't even know how to play the accordion when her mother bought her one. She started practicing with Mary Zimmer-man and Deb Thompson to get ready to perform with the 100 Accordions. More joined the jam session at the Junction House tavern just north of Monroe until eventually they became known as the Junction Jammers.

Every second Wednesday of the month, the Jammers still perform at the Junction House where they've built a large audience, including some who enjoy dancing to the Jammers' music.

"Anybody can come play with us, whether it be the guitar or whatever," McGinnis said.

The group even started going to local retirement and nursing homes to perform, and it just took off from there. Now the Jammers are booked every Wednesday for the next two months.

McGinnis said she loves performing for the residents because they seem to enjoy it.

"Half the time they're moving their legs and singing along to our music once we get to hootin' and hollerin'," she said. "After playing at the Monroe Manor, if you had just walked in, you wouldn't of known it was a rest home."

The Jammers members who perform at nursing homes include McGinnis; Merikay Ellefson of Monroe; Deb Thompson of Monroe; and Gloria Blaser of Darlington. The regulars who jam at the Junction House include LouAnn Hanson of Monroe; Dianne Whitney of Juda; Amber Rae Thompson, who is from Monroe and lives in Columbus; and Ron Blaser of Darlington. Ron Thompson and Dewey McGinnis of Monroe also help them set up before performing.

McGinnis said she learns a lot from more experienced accordion players, Thompson and Whitney, who are able to play by ear.

"It's just so much fun as a team," McGinnis said. "We just get along so much. They all give you advice for this little and that and the more you play, the better you get. Just like anything, it takes a lot of practice, and we practice a lot."

When the Jammers play at the Junction House, they play from 1 p.m. until they decide they don't want to play anymore - usually at least a couple of hours.

"It's just something to do," McGinnis said. "The music's good and soothes the soul."