Author: Campbell, Bruce

Bluegrass Seasons

It shouldnít be surprising that a musical form like Bluegrass, with its deep roots in back porch pickiní, would have its seasonal variations.

When the weatherís warm, thatís when Bluegrass is in full bloom. Festivals are in full swing around the country, and warm nights are perfect for pickiní and grinniní deep into the night. Clusters of jammers crowd around campfires and in the aluminum canyons between RVs, to pick, sing, share a bottle (or two), and admire each otherís latest musical instrument acquisitions.

Perfect strangers converse freely in the musical language. You might meet a fellow from Japan who knows barely a word of English, but can provide pure tenor harmonies on Blue Moon of Kentucky.

Some pickers like to find a spot and stay there all night, exhausting their repertoires while learning a tune or two from those who wander by. Others, (like me) like to roam the campsites to find strangers with whom they can pick some tunes, compare their skills, and learn some new songs, and, in the process, make some new friends.

The Bluegrass Festival is a microcosm of the human experience. You will meet some fantastic people, and when a person youíve never before met makes some kind comments on your playing or your singing, you feel great for hours (maybe days) afterwards. Eventually, youíll meet some folks who lack warmth or kindness, too, but just like the rest of the world, they make up the minority.

So what do we do when the weather turns bitter and the festival ďseasonĒ ends? Do we put our instruments away and turn to heavy metal and gangsta rap to get though the chilly months? No! The winter is time for intimate pickiní parties in homes warmed by fresh-baked turkey, bread and desserts. Itís the time to get reacquainted with those folks we just seemed to busy to visit during the months when we out on the go all the time. Time slows down a bit in the winter, and we savor time spent with family and friends, and recharge our batteries. Itís also a good time to take some serious time to carefully learn that fiddle tune that you couldnít quite learn during the rest of the year.

And so the cycle continues. Me, Iím weary of winter and ready for the weather to turn warm, and the Festivals and the gigs return for another year! I just know 2013 will be even better than 2012, which was a terrific year. I love California. (And the Spring Campout is almost here!)

Posted:  4/3/2013

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