Author: Tatar, Yvonne

Somewhere Over the Rainbow

Playing music takes you to places and situations you’d probably never imagine. The first of the month, Mike Sr. and I traveled to the Lake Havasu festival Bluegrass on the Beach which is promoted by Larry & Sondra Baker. It’s such a great event and we love the drive through the late winter desert areas to see how things are beginning to bloom, etc. This year our friends Kit and Mary Birkett were caravaning with us in their motorhomes. Did it rain at the festival? Yes, a little, BUT beautiful rainbows encapsulated the festival several times that weekend. Sorta of the icing on the cake, or festival, in this case. Were spirits dampened? No! Did the festival fun ensue? Yes!

Last year at Lake Havasu fest, Mike, Kit & I were jamming one night at our campground and two guys from Manitoba, Canada walked up out of the night with their mandolin and guitar and a terrific jam ensued. This led to another great jam the next night. We exchanged emails and vowed to keep in touch. This year the Manitoba boys, Stephen and Terry, let us know that they would be at the festival again and would be looking forward to another jam with us. Friday evening found us jamming inside our motorhome as it rained outside. And Sunday afternoon found us enjoying another Canadian-American summit.

Delightfully, we got to know the Canadian boys alittle better this year. Between songs, we talked about the weather, where they left -50 degree temps to come to the festival. And then we discussed the drought here in the California and the Southwest. Stephen is a dairy farmer and he had a lot of current information on water usage and worldwide drought concerns that are affecting people globally. Terry is a financial planner so he had some definite takes on the state of current affairs. And let’s not forget our unique discussion on the latest dairy farmer acquisition – robots that milk cows. You heard first here, folks.

They also shared that growing up in a small Canadian town before the internet, they had little access to bluegrass music. They literally relied on one or two bluegrass albums that the large town music stores carried. They learned their bluegrass from those records like the Bluegrass Band Album and couple Bill Monroe LPs. Because of this, they surmise that this is why a great many other Canadian pickers like them are steeped in the traditional bluegrass songs yet today. They also felt that through playing traditional bluegrass songs they somehow could more closely experience the feeling coming out of Kentucky when Bill Monroe was playing bluegrass. This is the nostalgia that bluegrass music holds for them - the idea to re-live those days through the music of the era. “This was the only way we could really feel what the music was since we lived so far away from it.” Indeed, they feel the music captures most Canadians in that way. As such, they weren’t exposed to much progressive bluegrass but stayed playing the more traditional songs even today.

So, through our jams we had a new understanding of why they usually played the more traditional numbers and we played the more progressive numbers which they weren’t as familiar with. It was a real pleasure to hear them sing the high harmonies and traditional numbers of Monroe, Stanley, etc. and they, in turn really enjoyed our more modern choices. Because of our music selections and our current events and history discussions, these jams have now become the annual meeting of the “Polar Vortexans.” At the close, we all shook hands and looked forward to our next summit jam in 2015. And thinking on a larger scale, I think this is only one jam story amongst many others out there happening all the time. Heartwarming.

Posted:  3/24/2014

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