Big Tent Small Tent; A Parody of…Act One Scene One

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Act One Scene One Recap: enter stage right a confident, maybe arrogant individual, in business attire, wearing a Stetson, polished boots, gently strumming a mandolin. He looks out on the audience and says in a strident voice “fake instruments should be banned; dobros ain’t no part of no bluegrass music Son, they ain’t no part of nuthin”……

Over the years the Big Mon ruled the genre with an iron fist. Oh there were challengers, many were successful, and indeed due to Big Mon’s managerial style there was an exceptionally high turnover of his band members, such that many of those successful challengers came from his entourage. Several of those pickers went on to cross trad lines and dabble in styles that verged on pop and jazz and folk, all in the hope of making a few dollars to buy yet another guitar to fill the missing gap in the 50 or so guitars stored in the back of a van parked behind the old home place a mile up a hollar. This evolution of the music led to chaos among the followers and split the community into vocal factions pitted against each other across dueling jams. The bluegrass police had an unenviable job of trying to enforce trad versus nontrad statutes but to no avail because the music evolved so quickly…while everyone could jam over a standard like Blue Ridge Cabin Home, the big tenters would take it to unimaginable places and throw in new cords and do so-called enhancements of the melody that rendered the song an arrangement that might appeal to Miles Davis. What to do about this schism in the dogma? How do festivals adjust? What is even the definition of blue grass anymore? Meanwhile, ol Bill kept cranking out the tunes, some even were jam busters like Jerusalem’s Ridge played by the elite where only the cognoscenti knew where and when there might be a crooked measure.

Musical strife reigned across the land…standards were pillaged, mercenary jazz and folk players infiltrated the bluegrass corps, carnage appeared to be on the horizon.

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