The Art Of The Sit In | Allie Kral

JAMBASE: Right on. So looking back, Allie, why was it time for you to leave Cornmeal?

AK: I think it was for that reason – that urge to try new things. I didn’t feel like I was a one-trick pony with Cornmeal or anything like that but I was really wanting to expand a bit more from what I was getting with that band. I still love them and support them fully and I miss them, but I’d been with them a decade, and it was time to move on. Now I really want to try to master this whole sit-in thing, and be in charge of my own schedule and do lots of festivals for the next few years.

[Photo by Mike Kaiz]

JAMBASE: Do you miss being in a regular touring band at all?

AK: I think I will someday, and down the line I might consider joining a group again. But for now I think it would be good for me just to join a group for a month or a tour and try lots of different situations.

JAMBASE: How do you assess how much sitting in you’d do with one band?

AK: It depends on the case. If it’s not a great fit, maybe it’s just a song at a festival. But maybe it’s an entire tour. I think it does work well for me because of the timbre of my instrument. The violin, the fiddle – it can be added on, it’s not a bass or drums or guitar that has to be playing the entire time. I’d love to play with a band that’s never thought of adding a violin sound.

JAMBASE: You’re headed for Jam Cruise in early January. What’s the appeal of that for a musician like you?

AK: It’s a hang out scene. You’re on one boat together, you’re always having dinner together and talking about what you like, what music you’re a fan of and what you want to do, and you have all of these jam rooms and jams together where you’re able to create for the first time. Everyone Orchestra is going to be there, and Matt (Butler) always does a great job bringing people together so I’ll be in that. There are a few bands I know really well that I’ll be a part of, and I also can’t wait to try new things and meet new musicians.

I just did a jazz gig in the Chicagoland area and I was scared about it because I’m kind of new to the whole jazz thing and even trying to play something in B-flat wasn’t my thing. I was like, wow, I might have to bring those chops back up before Jam Cruise, there’s a lot of jazz and funk and fun stuff on there. It’s going to be challenging but it’s a setting where you’re really able to experiment. You can reward yourself by lying out on the pool deck afterward!

JAMBASE: Totally. But I can’t imagine these musical worlds are that foreign to you.

AK: No, well, I guess it’s when people are getting funky – playing lots and lots of funk – it’s new for me because I don’t quite know where to put my instrument and how to find the gaps. With bluegrass…it’s never easy, but it is comfortable. Jazz and funk, these are cats who really know their style and I’m new to it so it’s a little scary. I try not to be too flashy and sometimes I overcompensate for the fact that I might be nervous. I’ve had bad sit-ins and they might be my best stories, you know?

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