Bluegrass is a Participation Sport

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Well, another Great 48 is in the books, and from all accounts, a good time was had by all.  We sure showed the Bakersfield Marriott how many bluegrassers it takes to cause a power outage right?  Just kidding – it wasn’t our fault!

Strolling around the hotel, I was struck once again by what a shared experience a bluegrass event is – every nook and cranny was chockablock with pickers of all shapes, sizes and ages.

The age spread was especially pleasing to see, for me, at least. Yeah, all my old pals were there, and that’s great. But at least three generations were amply represented here, and that’s great. I saw 20-somethings, worn out from playing all night, and I got a kick out of them learning what it feels like to pick way too much, then start again the next day. I also saw a lot of amazing pickers of a pre-teen generation – the music is alive and well.

We also had a very well-attended CBA Board Meeting. All CBA board meetings are open to the public, but not that many people will make a special trip to attend one. But we had a room full of people, and that’s great. The CBA has almost 3000 members, and they’re all important. The Board (and the CBA) exists to serve those members, but 3000 members do not all have the same opinions, motivations or goals.

In trying to serve the needs and desires of the CBA member base, there’s simply no one right answer – ever.  I think there’s a general buy-in to the Association’s charter, but exactly what is or isn’t bluegrass, old tyme or gospel music is subject to broad interpretation, as is how to exactly promote and preserve this music.

In addition, members are often quite passionate about their opinions, and this can make objective examination of differing (not always opposing) viewpoints difficult. What is necessary to achieve any sort of (even partial) consensus , is a willingness to respect the views of other members, and an openness to accept some compromises. All of these things can be difficult, given the heat of the passion we feel about bluegrass, and what we think must be done to preserve, and serve it.

Getting together is a great first step – we get together to pick, and to talk – we actually have goals that are far more similar than it might seem.  Can we all agree to keep talking?

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