JamVal FAQs

NOTE:   The JamVal Schedule is now available HERE

Please see below for various details about JamVal and check back here for updates. Please check the JamVal homepage as well since all details are subject to change.

Q1. What is JamVal?

We are so excited to be returning to the Sheraton in Framingham for the first time in four years for an event we’re calling JamVal. JamVal is a weekend-long bluegrass “non-festival” focused on jamming held over President’s Day Weekend (February 16 – 18, 2024) at the Sheraton Framingham Hotel. There will be dozens of workshops and jams hosted by loads of amazing musicians and teachers, and one big difference from usual festivals: no big stage show to distract from the picking!

Q2. How do I reserve a room at the Sheraton for JamVal?

Although we do not expect the rooms to sell out instantly, we do expect them to sell out, and you can only book a room on-site if you purchase a weekend pass on our Wild Apricot page. After you purchase a weekend pass, you will be sent a link to reserve either a PICKING or QUIET room.  Here’s some additional info about rooms on-site:

  • Please be sure to select your arrival and departure dates (on the lower left of the first page) because the default is Thursday through Monday, which may not match your plans.

  • Reservations must include both Friday and Saturday nights, and you can also stay on Thursday and/or Sunday nights at the same discounted rate.

  • The discounted room rate is $144 per night plus taxes and fees.

  • To get the discounted rate, you must book your room by Wednesday, January 31st at the latest.

  • Even if you’re not 100% sure that you’ll be able to stay on-site for JamVal, you could still reserve a room at this discounted rate because you can always cancel it up to 48 hours in advance. And if you don’t book in our block, you will likely have to pay a higher room rate and an additional $10 per day in parking fees.

  • Each room reservation must be accompanied by at least one weekend pass purchase.

  • There are still many rooms available on-site, although we do expect them to sell out eventually. If you have any problems or questions about a new or existing reservation, please contact the Sheraton Framingham’s Senior Event Manager, Kristen Try, at [email protected] or by phone at 508-270-1954.


    (1) Quiet (non-picking) rooms are still available on-site, but future reservations will be at the Fairfield Inn. The Fairfield Inn is in the same building as the Sheraton (in fact, it was part of the old Sheraton), and you won’t have to go outside to get all of the JamVal activities. Please note that no jamming is allowed in the Fairfield Inn guest rooms or common areas.

    We do not expect that quiet rooms will sell out. We anticipate that quiet rooms – now at the Fairfield Inn – will be available at the discounted JamVal rate until January 31st. If you recently tried to reserve a quiet room and got a message that the rooms were sold out, please email [email protected] and we can help you reserve a room at the Fairfield Inn.

    (2) Picking rooms are limited and may sell out soon! All picking rooms are located within the Sheraton itself, and there are a limited number of rooms due to renovations. Although we can’t say exactly when picking rooms will fill up, we assume it will be before January 31st. If you are interested in getting a picking room, we recommend that you book it as soon as possible.

Q3. Why isn’t the BBU putting on a full festival this year?

Due to ongoing renovations at the Sheraton, there are unfortunately not enough rooms available to have a successful festival. So instead, this year we are hosting a new event called JamVal that we’re very excited about. We hope to return to the Sheraton Framingham Hotel for a full festival in 2025, but we need your help! We are trying to impress the new ownership group at the Sheraton, so please be on your best behavior at JamVal, and be sure to fill out your hotel survey when the Sheraton (and/or Marriott) emails you after your stay.

Q4. What’s changed at the Sheraton?

As mentioned above, there is a new ownership group at the Sheraton Framingham Hotel, but that’s not all that’s new. The Sheraton building has been divided into three different hotels: the Sheraton is still in the front, but now there is a Fairfield Inn and TownePlace Suites on the back side of the building.

JamVal will be contained entirely within the Sheraton portion of the building, and we will be allowed to jam nearly everywhere within the Sheraton (but nowhere within the Fairfield Inn and TownePlace Suites). Because the Sheraton itself has been downsized and is currently under renovation, if you stayed in a specific room in the past, please do not expect to get it again this year.

Q5. Will there be any Special Guests at JamVal?

Yes, JamVal will be welcoming our very special “Guest Jammers”: Greg Cahill, Greg Blake, Michael Prewitt, and Dan Eubanks – better known by their collective band name, Special Consensus!

Special Consensus will be at JamVal all weekend long to host jams, teach workshops, and even play a show on Saturday night at 7:30 pm. All of this will be included with your ticket (either a weekend pass or Saturday-only).

Q6. Where in the hotel will we be allowed to jam?

Much like the full festival, we will be allowed to jam almost* everywhere in the hotel:
(*see below for where we cannot jam)

(1) On the Picking Floors (in and around the guest rooms): from Friday at 3 pm through the end of Saturday night (into early Sunday morning).

(2) On the First Floor (including in and around the Lobby, Bar & Restaurant): from Friday at 3 pm through the end of Saturday night (into early Sunday morning).

(3) On the Lower Level: from Friday at 6 pm through the end of Sunday night (into early Monday morning).

Q7. Where in the hotel will we be prohibited from jamming?

Much like the full festival, we will be allowed to jam almost everywhere in the hotel with just a few exceptions:

(1) All Weekend Long: No jamming on the Quiet Floors (in and around the guest rooms), however since the hotel is under renovation, we will not know exactly which floors those are until it gets closer to JamVal.

(2) Sunday Only: No jamming on the First Floor – including in and around the Lobby, Bar & Restaurant – on Sunday because the Sheraton will be welcoming new guests. But jamming on the First Floor – including in and around the Lobby, Bar & Restaurant – WILL be permitted from Friday at 3 pm through the end of Saturday night (into early Sunday morning).

(3) Friday Afternoon Only: No jamming on the Lower Level before 6 pm on Friday.

(4) No jamming on the Picking Floors (in and around the guest rooms): before Friday at 3 pm and after the end of Saturday night (into early Sunday morning).

Q8. Do I have to reserve a room to attend JamVal?

No, you will not need to reserve a room at the Sheraton to attend JamVal, but you will need to have a valid wristband to participate in any of the scheduled activities such as workshops, teacher-led jams, the Special Consensus concert, etc.

Q9. Where will the scheduled activities such as workshops, teacher-led jams, etc. be held?

All of the scheduled activities such as workshops, teacher-led jams, etc. will be held on the Lower Level of the Sheraton.

Q10. Will there be a Kids’ Academy at JamVal?

Unfortunately, we are not able to offer a Kids’ Academy at JamVal, however, we hope to return to the Sheraton Framingham Hotel for a full festival in 2025, including the Kids’ Academy. And children under 12 are FREE all weekend long.

Q11. Will there be Master Classes, Fast Track Classes, etc. during the day on Friday?

Unfortunately, we are not able to offer Master Classes, Fast Track Classes, etc. at JamVal, however, we hope to return to the Sheraton Framingham Hotel for a full festival in 2025, including Friday-daytime classes.

Q12. When does JamVal start and end?

The schedule will vary from day to day, but here are the most important details:

3 pm: Hotel check-in begins

3 until 6 pm: Jamming begins on the Picking Floors (in and around the guest rooms) and the First Floor only

6 pm: the Lower Level will officially open (please come to the ticket table on the Lower Level near the elevators to get your wristband)

7 pm: the first scheduled jams and workshops will begin on the Lower Level

Friday, Saturday & Sunday Late-Nights
We will have access to the entire Lower Level for 24 hours a day from 6 pm on Friday through the end of Sunday night (into early Monday morning), so Friday, Saturday & Sunday nights’ jams can go all night!

Saturday & Sunday Morning
Workshops and jams will begin at 10 am on both Saturday & Sunday

10 am: workshops and jams will begin
1 pm: the final scheduled workshops and jams will end
After 1 pm: we’ll still be able to jam on the Lower Level through the end of Sunday night (into early Monday morning)

Q13. Will styles other than bluegrass be represented at JamVal?

Yes, the main styles other than bluegrass that will be represented at JamVal are Old-Time and Swing. We will have a variety of Old-Time and Swing workshops and jam sessions. But it’s also likely that other related styles of music will also be represented at JamVal… anybody interested in Swedish nyckelharpa? It just depends on who shows up!

Q14. What do I need to know about tickets to JamVal?

Here are a few important details about tickets for JamVal:

  • No physical tickets will be issued, although registered attendees will receive a wristband when they check in. All ticketing will be done online, and we will have a list of registered attendees when you arrive. Please bring your ID with you when you come to check in.

  • Single-day passes will be available for sale in mid-January.

  • Tickets will still be available for sale at JamVal itself. Both weekend and single-day passes will be available for sale at the ticket table on the Lower Level (near the elevators). You can purchase tickets at the event with cash, credit card, or by check.

Q15 If I purchase a Single-Day Pass can I jam all night?

Yes, single-day passes are valid until 7 am the next morning as follows:

Friday-Only Pass: Friday at 6 pm until Saturday at 7 am

Saturday-Only Pass: Saturday at 10 am until Sunday at 7 am

Q16. Is there a discounted ticket price for listeners (those who don't jam)?

JamVal is for jammers, learners, and listeners alike, and just like other weekend-long bluegrass events, we do not have discounted tickets for those who don’t jam.

Q17. Will food be for sale at JamVal?

Yes, The Postern Grille Restaurant and Bar will be open for breakfast, lunch and dinner during the duration of JamVal. The Sheraton will also be providing a variety of quick eats at different times throughout the weekend. The food concession will be set up at the base of the Central Staircase, just across from the Carlisle Room for the following meals:

Friday Dinner: from 6:30 until 8 pm (and possibly later)
Saturday Lunch: from noon until 1:30 pm (and possibly later)
Saturday Dinner: from 6:00 until 7:30 pm (and possibly later)

Q18. Will there be a stage at JamVal?

Yes, the room closest to the elevators on the Lower Level, the Ashland Room which is normally used for the Showcase Stage at Joe Val, will be used for the JamVal Stage on Saturday from noon until 9 pm as follows:

  • Open Stage from noon until 2:30 pm: Bring your jam to perform on stage. Sign up immediately beforehand to perform a short slot on the JamVal Stage.

  • Band Scramble Performance from 3 until 4:30 pm: Sign up by 12:30 pm in the Carlisle Room to join a band for the afternoon and perform! See below for further details.

  • Bluegrass Karaoke from 5 until 7 pm: Sing or play a song with a house band of ringers. The JamVal Bluegrass Karaoke House Band will include Tony Watt (guitar), Korey Brodsky (mandolin), Sofia Chiarandini (fiddle), G Rockwell (banjo), and Josh Dayton (bass).

  • Special Consensus Performance from 7:30 until 8:45 pm: Special Consensus will perform a single set on the JamVal Stage starting at 7:30 pm on Saturday. Please note that the Ashland Room has limited seating, and you will want to arrive early to get a good spot.

Q19. What's the bluegrass band scramble?

If you’ve ever played in a jam session, or if you can play three chords in rhythm, then you can join the Bluegrass Band Scramble at JamVal! People enter the Band Scramble individually, and bands are created by picking names out of hats – roughly one for each instrument so that all the bands have the musicians they need. You and your new bandmates then have a two-hour practice session to prepare songs for a short stage performance. Rich Stillman will guide you through the process; here’s the schedule:

Noon until 12:30 pm — Band Scramble Sign-Up
12:30 pm until 1 pm — Band Formation
1 pm until 3 pm — Rehearse with your new bandmates
3 pm until 4:30 pm — Band Scramble Performances

Goals: The Band Scramble will give people a chance to develop their jamming and performing skills. No one who enters has any idea who they’ll be playing on stage with just hours later – your bandmates are picked at random, and it’s up to you as a group to find your strengths – and even your band name – and get ready for a short performance on stage in front of your friends.

Entry and Registration: Participants should sign in at noon on Saturday and indicate their instrument and whether or not they sing. If you sing but don’t want to play an instrument, please indicate “singer” as your instrument. Please note: singers are encouraged to join us even if they don’t want to play an instrument!

Band Selection: Bands will be selected by choosing roughly one of each instrument from a hat. The decision of the hats is binding, although we reserve the right to make adjustments to be sure all bands have enough pickers and singers.

Preparation and Performance: Each band will be assigned a practice space and will prepare roughly three songs for stage performance, including introductions of the tunes and the band members. Preparation should include the selection of a band name as well. The tunes selected for the performance should include one instrumental at most. Rich will provide a list of common songs on Saturday, but you can also email him in advance at [email protected]

Space in the Band Scramble is limited, so please try to arrive early!

Q20. Will there be picks, capos, strings, tuners, straps, etc. available for sale at JamVal?

We are excited to welcome two wonderful vendors so far offering instruments and accessories:

Rick’s Musical Instruments

Mockingbird Music

New Q: How can I volunteer to help at JamVal?

Send an email to [email protected] indicating your interest and you will receive details about volunteering at JamVal.