Sunday, April 3, 2011

God Bless America and God Bless the Banjo

In Ecotopia, Ernest Callenbach’s middle finger to the modern world, the pre-enlightened protagonist explains to the reader what he values in life.  To be out on the town with a beautiful woman, who catches the gaze of the people around him, to be seen by the best people, to be with the best people.  Well, readers, that was me last night. 

I went to a local Bluegrass show, a quadruple booking of regional bands.  The gig was held in the auditorium of a somewhat run down community center.  One web site listed it as a BYO show, which it turns out is different than BYOB- it means feel free to bring your own snacks, but we’ll have candy bars and bottled water in the lobby.  Our wine bottle stayed in the car.

Bluegrass shows are all strings, from mandolins to fiddles to banjos, guitars, and vocal cords.  There are no preening rock stars on Bluegrass stage.  The band literally shares the stage, moving in and out of the lead mike throughout each song in an egalitarian way.  God Bless America, and God Bless the Banjo.

By our count the average age of the attendees was around 50.  That is actually younger than the average age of the musicians, which was closer to 60.  Bluegrass shows tend to attract a mix of aging hippies, vegans, cowboy dreamers, retirees, and environmental activists.  These are the best people, and I was with them.

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