X Hooked--Brian McNeal
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Well, first I don't know about this coming clean stuff. I mean this isn't really the Bluegrass Anonymous Service Society (BASS) and I don't know about admitting in an open community about being “hooked” on anything.

But, if you promise to maintain my confidentiality...

Hi, my name is Brian and I am a former Rock-N-Roll addict.

I had it bad too: spending the last five dollars to my name on more Rock-N-Roll was not even a care. I had it so bad that I eventually lost all of my Rock-N-Roll friends and even my family went in other directions. I was a lost cause to all of them. Even my main fix, Rock-N-Roll, got to the point where it no longer satisfied me and eventually abandoned me. I was lost and alone.

I stumbled around for years, trying all sorts of replacement “fixes” - Country, Blues, Jazz, Folk, you name it ... whatever was out there, I tried it. But nothing filled that void. Nothing gave me the thrill I was seeking.

I think the first time I tried Bluegrass I was excited. It had something that nothing else had. I wasn't really hooked right away, but then I don't think I got the full dose the first time. It was back in the dark ages, before digital everything and immediate gratification. You know, somewhere around the 1970's when we had to employ stone chiselers and wood carvers just to make a copy of a document like a band contract or something. We took everything slower and we didn't know about mainlining or getting pure stuff. So my first dose may have been watered down some.

I was a country music disc jockey on a large-market, Hundred-Thousand Watt, Powerhouse FM radio station in the southwest. Bluegrass was just something they tolerated at the time. It was normally kept down in the basement or elsewhere out of sight and out of availability for the public.

Then one day someone let the secret out. It wasn't such terrible stuff, matter of fact, it was pretty darn good and many will swear that it was the premium stuff – much better than your standard over-the-counter country music. Guess it was just that the supply of bluegrass in those days was not adequate to meet the demand should the word about it's quality spread so they tried to keep it quiet.

Once it got around, and was more available to us, we had a chance to get some of the bluegrass pushers, those guys and gals who had the strings and picks and other bluegrass paraphernalia like acoustic music instruments, down to the local recording studio and we got them to do a live radio program for an hour. That's when the bluegrass police began their campaign to harass us. It seems we broke some law we weren’t aware of. Heck, we didn't even know that bluegrass had it's own police. We thought the Grand 'Ol Opry controlled everything in country music.

But anyway, we put that show on the air and folks from Nogales, Mexico to Flagstaff, AZ and from Lordsburg, NM to Blythe, CA heard about bluegrass from our FM station. But now I also got to tell you that we simulcast that broadcast on our sister AM Radio Station. AM radio has peculiar characteristics at night and can bounce the signal over great distances. So people all the way from Sweden west to Hawaii were getting a bluegrass fix.

They immediately wanted to know where to get more. They were lighting up our switchboard at the radio ranch like Las Vegas at night. Then we made another error in judgment. We re-broadcast the show the following week – hoping to give them the “more” that they'd demanded. Little did we know that each and every one of them shared it with their friends and family. Shared it by the thousands. We had compounding interest that would make a banker blush.

Some of those bluegrass pusher guys and gals with the strings and picks are no longer with us today and I don't know that I ever got my chance to stand up in court and accuse them of aiding and abetting to get me hooked on their special brand of rural music. But one that I know was there is still around today and, boy, let me tell you that he's never heard the end of his attempt in those days to infect millions with this foot-tapping, hand-clapping musical Viagra for the brain. He got the crazy notion to take Stevie Wonder's monstrously popular romance drug with a street name of “You Are The Sunshine Of My Life” and turn it into an uptempo, hard-driving banjo & fiddle mutation. To avoid confusion, it's street name became “Bluegrass Sunshine.” Wonder's management firm has no comment on the matter even after all this time so we know that millions were indeed hooked. Apparently, I was one of them but never came to the realization until just about ... hmm ... uhumm ... 5 – 10 ... hmm ... 20 years ago.

That's the way it is with some. It seeps in slowly with stealth and grabs you before you have a chance for escape. That's the way it happened with me.

Incidentally, Marty Mitchel's “You Are The Sunshine Of My Life” made it into Billboards Top 50 Country Songs at #34 in 1978 and is still available in limited quantities today. You can get a free sample here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gaBErWULhvc

Anyway, here I am today, hooked on bluegrass and not ashamed to stand here and admit it. Fortunately for me I've found that a good healthy dose of Prescription Bluegrass at least once a week in each ear is a good remedy for rehabilitation maintenance.

Click here for past Welcome columns written by Brian.
Posted By:  Rick Cornish

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