Bluegrass is bustin’ out all over

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Please let this summer continue – we’re not done with yet!

Is it just me, or does this seem like a banner year for bluegrass around the state? Oh, I’m sure on some level, someone could claim, and maybe even prove that the bluegrass music business is suffering from a down economy, like many other businesses this year. But I’m not talking about bluegrass music in a business context – I mean the music in every form and venue. It looks to me like it’s everywhere, being played by everyone this summer.

The weather this summer has been terrific – cool mornings, followed by warm afternoons and temperate nights. But beyond the climate, I think there’s an actual uptick in demand for the music this summer. I know I’ve been very busy this summer, and I have seen a lot of my friends be just as busy. I’m seeing lots of pictures of smiling musicians at weddings, festivals, barbecues, coffee houses, pizza parlors, bars and about every other human gathering.

I’ve seen George Martin with his Prairie Rose bandmates, Patrick Wade pickin’ and grinnin’, and my buddies in Spinning Wheel are delivering their old time sound to folks all over. Bluegrass seems to be the perfect soundtrack for a summer outdoor event, doesn’t it?

This year’s Father’s Day Festival was amazing – from each of the stages, to every corner of the fairgrounds, folks were smiling, and sharing songs and music day and night. We all locked into the same not-so-well-kept secret of what summer is supposed to sound like.

Further evidence of the special magic of this summer can be found in the accounts of two recent events. The recent campout at the Lighthouse Marina got rave reviews from everyone who was there, and to me, it seemed that the level of enthusiasm was higher than usual. It seemed like an awful lot of good memories were made that week! The Good Old Fashioned Festival was also, by all accounts, a smashing success. The musicians onstage spun their magic and in the campgrounds, pickers gathered in circles, and had their musical conversations by the glow of lanterns.

I believe that 2010 is a year when our need to lose ourselves in music is on an upswing. I am seeing a higher than usual level of attention, and of involvement, in audiences. I am seeing some new converts to bluegrass. It’s great to see folks amazed by the beauty and power of live music, and be moved by it. Think of it – there are a lot of people accustomed to music at social events being provided by DJs. They’re used to dancing to canned music. Faceless music, made by machines. Then, they attend an event where the music is played by real people, with nothing but voices, wires and wood, and they are amazed, and they are transformed. I think a lot of people will be transformed this year.

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