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Seniors jam out on Friday nights
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The music could be heard before you enter the doors. Inside, a band of drummers, singers and guitar pickers are belting out tunes of the country's past.

A packed room of onlookers clap their hands, tap their feet and sometimes get up to dance.

If you thought you were at your local dive bar, think again. It's the Dawson County Senior Center.

Every Friday night at the center, a group of musicians and admirers gets together for a jam session. They've been jamming out at the center for about two and a half years.

"It's a fun thing for seniors who don't want to be out late," Mary Gilstrap said. Her husband, Dean Gilstrap, plays steel guitar at the jam sessions.

Mary Gilstrap and her friend Janice Thomas serve coffee for the seniors during the sessions. Thomas's husband, Johnny, is also the lead guitarist.

The musicians play everything from Merle Haggard to old hymns and other country classics.

When the evening winds down around 8 p.m., the musicians have a tradition of closing out with the hymn, "Amazing Grace."

"Everyone gathers together and holds hands while they sing," Thomas said.

Senior Center Director Dawn Pruett said the music sessions are something they want to continue at the center. "I'm just really glad we're able to provide them a place," Pruett said. "There's not any place around that has anything like that for our seniors."

Pruett said the sessions have provided a great way to build relationships with other seniors. "They have bonded so great together," she said. "They do special parties for birthdays every month."

The group meets at the Senior Center every Friday at 6 p.m. The public is invited.

But get there early if you want a seat. The sessions usually end up being standing-room only.