Author: Campbell, Bruce

In Case You Need Something Else to Worry About

I’ve always said “Safety is No Accident”, and with bluegrass festival season upon us, I think it’s important to raise awareness of some of hidden dangers that await happy festival denizens. After all, we’re going to festivals to have FUN, not fumble around for the first-aid kit or tubes of Ben-Gay, right? Let’s have a safe festival season, free of these dreaded maladies:

Banjo Lugger’s Asymmetry
This insidious condition sneaks up slowly and catches banjo pickers unawares. It often isn’t noticeable until after the festival is over, when banjo players return to their day jobs (I’m speaking of the small subset of banjo players who are actually employable, of course) and discover that one sleeve of their dress shirt looks too short. It’s not the shirt – it’s Banjo Lugger’s Asymmetry, where lugging a banjo around for three or more days actually causes one arm to elongate. Some banjo players are proud of being able to scratch one ankle without bending over, but for the rest of us, who want to fit in with non-banjo-playing society, the prevention is easy – just make sure to alternate arms when lugging the banjo around at a festival. (Duh!)

Digital Performation Syndrome
This is not a festival-related problem per se, but we see it crop up a lot in environments where extended picking leads to broken strings which leads to restringing, which leads to Digital Perforation. Simply put, it’s when you effortlessly and thoughtlessly drive a .011” wire into your finger. It slips in like a hypodermic needle and before you know it, you’re hopping up and down, waving your finger around and getting everyone’s RVs splattered with blood. These perforations will bleed a LONG time, too! Don’t expect sympathy, either – everyone’s been there, and they’re too glad it finally happened to
someone else. Sadly, there are no known preventions for DPS. Sooner or later, you’re gonna do it.

Imbiber’s Elbow
By no means is this malady isolated to bluegrass pickers, but again, the bluegrass festival provides an environment for this condition to flare up frequently. The human elbow simply wasn’t designed to bend five or six hundred times a day to sip beer or wine, and the result is often a swollen and creaky joint. Those who can drink ambidextrously have an advantage, of course. Contraptions that hold cans of beer in a hat and connect to the mouth via a straw may mitigate the elbow stress, but the wearer will look truly ridiculous. The alternative would be to simply drink less, but to my knowledge, this has never been tried.

Lingual Hyperextension
When the music’s playin, and folks are singin’ and sippin’, the tales start to flow, and tongues start to wag. Once again, stresses are placed upon body parts that were never designed to take such abuse. Occasionally, certain folks (I will NOT be naming names) will talk SO much during a bluegrass festival, that the tongue becomes stretched out and loose in the mouth. Symptoms will be visible bruising, a tongue that lolls towards the lips, and occasionally, lisping occurs. The only cure for this problem is a rigorous regimen of listening.

There isn’t space here to go into all the possible physical ailments that befall festival goers (and the mental ailments would be a whole other article), but perhaps awareness of the dangers will prevent some of these irksome inconveniences from deterring from the fun of attending your next bluegrass festival. I sincerely hope so!

Posted:  5/30/2012

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