Hooked on Bluegrass

Wayne Grabowski

When I was a kid I was interested in music, but never made much progress. Piano was neat but practice was drudgery and the tunes being taught weren’t interesting. Trumpet in the 5th grade was ok but went back to the rental outfit when the term was done. Asked for a guitar one Christmas and got a plastic toy instead of a real instrument.

One day, during my senior year of high school, it dawned on me: if I don’t learn how to play something now, I never will. But what to play? All the cool kids were already playing guitar & I figured I’d never catch up with them. So I made a plan. I’d give myself two weeks to decide what to play, and another two to get one and start learning. The next day someone brought a banjo to school and I got to hold it & plunk the strings. The next weekend my girlfriend invited me to come along with her to a Bluegrass festival. Wow. I’d never really listened to Bluegrass before, but liked what I heard. What hooked me, though, was the jamming. It didn’t appear to matter who you were, if you could play, you could join in. That really appealed to me when I was a long haired punk of 17 years and still does today, several decades later.

So I went home determined to learn the banjo. My Dad surprised me by supporting my interest and even found one to buy. I took lessons, slowly learned to play with others, jammed, went to festivals, played in some contests, put it down, took it back up---lived a lot in my time, to quote a tune.

I’m not the best picker in the world. I’ve performed on stage & can take it or leave it. But sitting in a circle making music with friends and/or strangers is one of the true joys of life, IMHO.

(At this writing, summer of 2012, Wayne runs a small a lunch jam at Shady Oaks Park in South San Jose, Fridays from 12 to 1, weather permitting. It's a small jam due to the location and short time, so folks should contact him at wbg@ieee.org.)

(posted 7/5/2012)

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