The Bluegrass Zone

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Sound. Its’ vibration reaching our ear, becoming converted into nerve impulses and is then sent on to our brain. We’re surrounded by it most of the time. When some degree of silence finally comes it is a welcome break bringing time for reflection and peaceful solitude. Sitting under a shade tree far from any road on a sunny day suddenly we notice the clouds above and feel the breeze on our face as if both just arrived. So much was already there to enjoy but somehow became overshadowed by cars driving by, radios blaring, voices chatting and the constant buzz of civilization assaulting every one of our senses. Hearing birds chirping and wind whistling through the trees is therapeutic for the soul. Day dreams drift in and out of your consciousness. You’ve arrived at a time and place that only a few truly understand and appreciate.

“You unlock this door with the key of imagination. Beyond it is another dimension: a dimension of sound, a dimension of sight, a dimension of mind. You’re moving into a land of both shadow and substance, of things and ideas; you’ve just crossed over into the Twilight Zone.” —Rod Sterling

Snap to. Where are you? Oh yea, now you remember as you open the instrument case and grab your (insert: guitar, banjo, mandolin, bass, fiddle, dobro or whatever stringed instrument you play). The peaceful silence is now complimented by a melody that blends into the natural surroundings. Each note you play inspires another. Fingers move across the wooden neck finding that high lonesome sound you love to hear while the other hand drives the volume and tempo. Wow this is great. This is it. This is “The Bluegrass Zone”.

Your friends have started showing up. Without comment or hesitation they fold seamlessly into the melody and the sound becomes full and rich. Each additional instrument now brings its’ own unique sound to the chorus of strings. It’s time. With only a nod or just momentary eye contact a “break” rings out as one instrument is featured over all the others and then it passes to the next player until it travels full circle. Faces smile as the final note ends what was so inspiring. Then quickly with perhaps only a change of key signaled and a song title briefly spoken, a few notes kick a new tempo and a story begins as words blend with the harmony of strings. A song is born. As if telepathy is at work, each musician friend has joined into the rhythm and melody you set in motion. The verses dominate for a while and then yield to instrumental punctuation’s until the moment arrives…..that moment several others has been patiently waiting for….the chorus. A tenor hovers above you and a baritone compliments from below. This is about as close to Heaven as a circle of friends can get on Earth together. The song ends with a single note still ringing out as the group finally pauses to acknowledge each other with some chit chat and laughter. That was so perfect. Heck, you completely forgot about the clouds, the birds chirping and that cool breeze blowing. You’ve been transformed to a timeless place where your soul is at peace and your batteries recharged. It’s like no other place. It’s a place most people in the World will never experience. Maybe that’s what makes it so unique. It feels like a special secret that you only share with those select few who understand it. It’s sacred and meant to remain untarnished. It is something to be protected and shared with friends and passed down from adult to child, from generation to generation.

The conversation has only lasted a few minutes. Laughter and words of endearment shared. Time to return to the reason we gathered. Time to get back “into a wondrous land whose boundaries are that of imagination. That’s the signpost up ahead — your next stop,” ¹ The Bluegrass Zone.

¹ From Season 2 (1960-1961) of The Twilight Zone – Rod Sterling

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