PORT RICHEY — It’s been said there is a fellowship that exists between musicians, so perhaps it was fate that weekly jam sessions should come to the King of Kings Lutheran Church Fellowship Hall.
Jams at the Port Richey church began a couple of years ago, and today there are three sessions a week, with country, bluegrass and gospel favorites always on the menu. Spectators pay $3 to enjoy the tunes, or coffee, cake and ice cream. It’s a modest price that really helps support the struggling church, said Wayne Wilkens, president of the King of Kings church council.
“There was a time we had 300 members, but this time of year we might have 65 or 70 who come to Sunday service,” he said, adding the church doesn’t bring in enough money to afford a full-time pastor, opting to hire one each Sunday to provide a sermon.
Wilkens said the big jam of the week takes place 1-4 p.m. on Saturdays. As many as 20 musicians join in, with many taking the spotlight, opening with a joke and leading the rest in a song of their choice. There also is a session 1-4:30 p.m. each Thursday, and a third, 1:30-4 p.m. on Sundays.
“The musicians like playing here,” said Wilkens. “They like the hall and the acoustics here.”
Sonny Hind, 94, plays guitar and sings. He’s a former professional musician, who used to have a radio and television show.
“I once won a singing contest,” he said, adding that the jam sessions are a big part of his week. “I lost my wife 15 years ago after 60 years and this helps keep me going.”
Jim Morgan plays guitar, and he’s been jamming for six years. He started out singing karaoke, learning the guitar and has a great time.
“I’m still learning,” he said. As for his singing, “I sound better when there are good players behind me.”
Maurice Piche, of Hudson, comes most Thursdays, and sometimes Saturday’s. He’s been a regular since the days when the group jammed at the Hudson CARES center. He followed the sessions to King of Kings, at 10337 U.S. 19.
“It’s a lot of fun; we always have a good time,” he said.